At first, there were three. Three Cartier brothers, three iconic cities, three historical addresses, like an almost-sacred trinity. But within this venerated network, Cartier Paris, now known as 13 Paix, reigns as the first among equals, as the birthplace and matrix of all for which the maison stands.
Influencing the Parisian luxury and society scene just as much as it has been influenced by the City of Light, Cartier’s era-defying flagship serves as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the treasures of its past and future. As it adjoins the magnificent Place Vendôme, Rue de la Paix was the place to be in Paris for luxury shopping – then as much as now.
Back in the day, Cartier had been one of the first firms in Paris to offer electricity and a telephone. So entrepreneurial were the Cartier brothers that they even had their own company automobile designated for deliveries. This service offered added privacy to clients, while simultaneously promoting the family name. More significantly, the boutique has also been a treasured sanctuary for the maison’s most eminent creative visionaries, such as Louis Cartier, Jeanne Toussaint, Charles Jacqueau and many more.
Today, it raises the curtains to a bold rejuvenation of its storied interiors that seeks to change the face of luxury watch and jewellery retail as you’ve never before imagined. This complete overhaul rivals the boutique’s landmark expansion between 1910 and 1913, where Cartier took up the entire stretch from 11 to 13 Rue de la Paix, which formerly belonged to the Hôtel Westminster. Entirely rethought, redesigned and refurbished, suffice it to say that all 3,000sqm of the house’s Parisian store has been totally reinvented, where nothing of its previous interior has been preserved.
Says Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage, “In a little over a century, this mythical address has never ceased to transform, evolve and adapt to the times and customs, in a quest to open up even more of its spaces to customers and visitors, and to constantly take into account their freedom and desire to move around and choose.”
Envisioned through the eyes of three teams of architects all dear to the maison, the new boutique offers a spectacular transformation sharing the multi-faceted persona of the maison with perfect harmony across all of the building’s six floors. From one of Paris’ most hallowed luxury destinations, the boutique has metamorphosed into a place of discovery and life. Fans of its beloved Neoclassical facade in black and gold Portoro marble need not fret, as the boutique retains its distinguished presence among the many iconic sights on the luxury streets of Paris.
The big difference now is that once you walk through its gilded doors, it’ll seem like you’ve stepped into a miniature universe unto itself, one where clean lines and perfect symmetry of Parisian Haussmannian architecture have been transmuted to a modern embrace of organic curves, nature inspiration, and intermingling of intimate coves and communal spaces, all bathed in natural light streaming in directly from the roof and touching every single floor.
This is the first time in Cartier’s history that the boutique is completely opened up to clients and friends of the maison, as all previously-secret spaces (located beneath the rooftop) are now designed for exploration and interaction. “13 Paix is Cartier’s historic and Parisian home,” says Nicolas Vérine, director of Cartier’s architecture department. “We had to consider this legacy, find a contemporary narrative for its classic architecture and play with the codes of this iconic symbol.
Promising a unique retail experience not unlike a visit to an art and culture museum, 13 Paix offers much to explore for every kind of Cartier customer, because not only has the store been completely rejuvenated, but the range of services rendered as well. A Cartier kiosk stationed up front has been introduced as your first point of contact with the boutique, which runs a full concierge team the way all the best five-star hotels do – by showering you with so much special attention that you’ll feel like a proper Duke or Duchess.
That’s all very nice, although one does expect to be pampered while shopping at Cartier. So the real magic is what happens the moment you enter the boutique proper and the full 13 Paix experience unravels before your very eyes, ears and noses too. Soundscapes and olfactory ambiences, artful displays and objects of fascination, everything has been meticulously curated to reveal much and more about Cartier and its creations, inspirations, stylistic codes, history and all that embodies the maison’s virtuosity.
“The architects we chose to accompany us on this exceptional adventure had to provide their talent to the fullest in an uncompromising way, while being part of a multi-voiced ensemble,” adds Vérine. “It is this meeting of perspectives, approaches and styles that makes the new 13 Paix an architectural and decorative ensemble like no other, and the most accurate reflection of the Cartier spirit.”
An Icon Reborn
Jostling for your attention are numerous watch and jewellery vitrines and glass cases spread over the ground, first, and second floors, offering all of Cartier’s contemporary collections. However, you can’t help but be drawn deeper towards the back of the boutique, where a towering atrium extends all the way to the glass roof six storeys above, illuminating the spaces within. Like a secret courtyard in a Parisian building, it anchors the boutique, imparting it a bright, welcoming atmosphere and surprisingly, more breathing space than one would think possible. These breathtaking interiors are the brainchild of the Moinard Bétaille agency, a trusted Cartier architecture partner for over 20 years. Armed with in-depth knowledge of the maison’s identity and deep respect for its heritage and codes, they’ve updated 13 Paix with a contemporary, fluid, elegant and precious version of its former self.
Two freshly refurbished wood-panelled rooms serve as historic salons showcasing vintage Cartier timepieces and objets d’arts. These include Jean Cocteau’s famous academician sword from the Académie Française, as well as a collection of rare books and archives in the library of the Louis Cartier Salon. Beside Cocteau’s bejewelled sword is a lacquered wooden panel crafted by Atelier Midavaine that bears this memorable verse by the French poet: “Cartier, the subtle magician, who dangles slivers of the moon on a thread of sun.”
Another salon you shouldn’t miss is the Jeanne Toussaint Salon dedicated to the world of La Panthère as she was affectionately known. Nearby, Emerald and Ruby are two small salons dedicated to boutique exclusives and limited editions.
Wedding jewellery flesh out the remainder of the first floor, while the second storey is dedicated to high jewellery. Overlooking bustling Rue de la Paix, the Art Deco, Indes and Inspiration Salon is where VIP clients can enjoy a spot of privacy, while the Faune et Flore Salon immerses all visitors in Cartier’s many stylistic universes.
The third and fourth floors are all about Cartier’s savoir faire and heritage. This is where the full range of Cartier services may be enjoyed, from maintenance and repairs to personalisation and more. Renovation of this level, the high jewellery atelier above and the Archives room on level five, were entrusted to Studioparisien, an agency that brings modernity, sobriety and functionality to Cartier’s codes of classic elegance.
Parents shopping with children will be delighted by the Quartier de Petits kids’ corner, which is chock full of creative activities inspired by the maison’s icons and style references.
Art and Living
Next to the Archives, the Residence occupies much of the fifth and uppermost floors, offering an incredibly intimate space for clients and friends of Cartier to enjoy.
With a reception and living space featuring a dining room, salon, kitchen and lovely winter garden where two small patios open into the sky, this beautiful space is decorated by Laura Gonzalez and kitted out in furniture and fabrics created exclusively for Cartier.
At the same time, luxury artisanal craftwork is found throughout the boutique, exhibiting nearly 40 art workshops and showcasing a plethora of métiers including lacquer, woodwork, stone, leather or straw marquetry, mosaics, fine metalwork, carpets, glass, wallpaper or staff work, custom-made furniture and patinas.
“By reinventing itself in 2022, this place which laid the foundations of modern and contemporary jewellery, which saw the invention of the modern wristwatch and the birth of the Panther, continues and reaffirms its place and role in a radiant Paris. A Paris of taste and savoir faire that remains a reference for the entire world,” remarks Rainero.