Frank Sans C had the honour and the privilege of being given an early morning private tour of the Cartier boutique at 13 rue de la Paix in Paris. Cartier president Cyrille Vigneron gave our very own tick-tock fanatic a golden ticket to unlock the secrets of the Maison. Here’s everything you always wanted to know about 13 Paix. Just follow the bellboy – our bellboy!
The genesis of 13 Paix
One of Cartier’s three historic boutiques, together with the Mansion in New York and New Bond Street in London, 13 Paix is the birthplace of the Maison’s creative inspiration. This is the home Louis Cartier chose for his brand, amid the hustle and bustle of Paris, at the dawn of the 20th century.
The boutique soon became popular with artists and celebrities, but it was first a sanctuary for the founder and his creative director Jeanne Toussaint – who was also known as “La Panthère”.
13 Paix, reinvented
13 Paix was revamped many times and now reveals a new aspect of its character after over two years of renovation work. The six floors of the famous building were entirely rearranged and redecorated, in order to better welcome customers and visitors. The three architect firms in charge of this colossal undertaking remained faithful to the historical elements and atmosphere of the interior, while masterfully orchestrating a modern overhaul. Sustainability and responsible design were at the heart of their vision.
The façade of 13 Paix
The majestic black marble façade that 13 Paix is known for has been preserved. To restore and enhance its timeless glory, Cartier perfume designer Mathilde Laurent worked closely with Studio Mary Lennox. An expert in floral styling and botanical design, the studio created vertical plant decorations for each window of the building.
The façade boasts seven display windows, each of them designed to perfectly showcase the maison’s remarkable jewels. These are displayed on purpose-built sculptures made using natural and burnt wood, green wax, plaster, etc. A marriage of raw materials and precious stones. Perfection down to the smallest detail…
Some details are bigger than others: there is now a kiosk outside in front of the boutique with valet service. Customers are also offered coffee or hot chocolate if the boutique is a bit busy.
First, the ground floor…
The design of the ground floor as well as the two first floors was entrusted to the Moinard & Bétaille agency and carefully thought out. These areas are dedicated to sales: the Maison’s creations on the ground floor, then the engagement and wedding pieces on the first floor, and High Jewellery on the second floor.
Visitors are immediately struck by how luminous and bright the entrance hall is. The eye is caught by a remarkable atrium, bathing the boutique in light. This design opens up the space and makes it easier to meander around the hall.
In addition, two historical sitting rooms were also restored. The Jean Cocteau salon, with the writer’s sword from the Académie Française proudly on display, and the Louis Cartier salon with his collection of rare books.
… Then on to the 1st and 2nd floors
Wonders never cease as visitors climb the magnificent grand staircase and its plant pattern bannister up to the first floor. Engagement and wedding jewellery pieces are surrounded by pastel and golden hues.
The first floor also houses Jeanne Toussaint’s office, adjoining two intimate salons: Emerald and Ruby.
And on to the second floor, where High Jewellery takes pride of place. Exclusive salons – Faune & Flore, Art Déco, Indes, and Inspiration – provide a luxurious backdrop for privileged clients to make special orders.
3rd and 4th, the exploration continues
The 3rd and 4th floor are dedicated to customisation services, Cartier workshops and the archives. Their modern and refined design was entrusted to the Studioparisien agency. Elegance, curves, subtle colours and noble materials are de rigueur.
Customers are invited to linger around the third floor and visit the “customisation bar” to have a Cartier piece engraved, whether watch, jewel, box or perfume bottle.
Entirely constructed in wood panelling marquetry, this wall displays delicate and ornate finishes. Simply marvellous.
Another marvel awaits on the 4th floor: the workshop of the masters of the arts. This highly secret place of mystery can only be accessed by a happy (select) few.
A Residence beneath the rooftops
The 5th floor houses the Maison’s archives, which are accessed via a winter garden allowing visitors to relax and admire the Parisian skies. The true highlight of the tour.
The space is also shared with a gorgeous salon, a dining room and a large kitchen.
Orchestrated by designer Laura Gonzalez, the interior decoration of the Residences makes it a warm, cosy space, where friends, artists and major clients of the maison can gather. Here, in the heart of 13 Paix, every object, every colour, every pattern, was hand-picked and carefully designed to welcome its exceptional guests.
A beautiful tribute to the Métiers d’Art
Many artisans have worked on the reinvented 13 Paix. No less than thirty-seven masters of the arts have played a part in the rebirth of the iconic boutique. Constantly striving to preserve traditional and ancestral craftsmanship (see our video on les Métiers d’Art de Cartier), Cartier gathered the very best of artisans, experts in complex, sophisticated techniques: lacquer, woodwork, stone or leather marquetry, mosaics, carpets, glasswork, wallpaper, custom-made furniture, etc. Feast your eyes!
The mosaic of the Lilikpó workshop
To create this panel designed to hang in the Indes Salon, mosaic artist Sika Viagbo took inspiration from a cuff watch from 2018 in the shape of a tiger, in yellow gold, diamond and black lacquer. The striped coat of the feline is crafted from various gold tesserae –smooth, hammered, smooth copper, hammered copper, white – and pieces of red-brown and black enamel.
Screen by Atelier Midavaine
Crafted from lacquer with touches of gold leaf, this screen bears a pattern inspired by the Cartier bird brooches created in the 1940s.
Leather marquetry by Baqué Molinié
Architects Laetitia Baqué and Victor Molinié upcycled scraps of leather used by Cartier and created two marquetry panels. These are reminiscent of the bestiary and floral repertoire that are emblematic of the maison.
A stage for the new Tank Française
13 Paix is also where customers can see up close one of the new hit watches of the season: the Tank Française. This iconic Cartier watch was recently revamped into seven alluring variations.