Behind the grand cobalt-blue coach doors of 52 rue de l’Arbre-Sec — the old Hôtel de Trudon (in the 18th century it belonged to the family of Cire Trudon 1643 candle fame, once the King’s official wax providers) — you’ll find another portal into old-world Paris.
Nestled into the back corner of the calm cobbled courtyard is La Galcante — part gallery, part brocante (French for second-hand shop). You can’t miss it — your nose will be lured by a uniquely musty, musky scent trail. It’s the aroma of centuries’ worth of ink-infused paper, well-thumbed glossy magazines and crumbling, yellowing prints.
Creak through the arched doorway and you’ll swear you’re stepping into a Woody Allen movie. The soft golden light shimmers with dust particles, and zippy notes of jazz dance in the air. The effect is no less than hypnotic. Prepare to spend a good hour here, tumbling into this rabbit’s hole of paper paraphernalia, some of which dates back to pre-Revolutionary times.
Flip through 1950s Vogues, locate the Le Monde of your birth date, and flit from one subject to another; whether you want to research Brigitte Bardot or Latin America, there’s a file box of preciously saved information waiting for you. The palpable past, right there at your dusty fingertips.
Warning: for those of you who trained in, or remember, media in the Good Old Days, this will have you hankering for a time when information, and life in general, was slower, more carefully edited. I personally could have wept for this disappearing world.
Dieu merci for La Galcante — which performs a nice double-duty as a museum to the power and poetry of paper.
Scroll down for a virtual trip along La Galcante’s memory lane …
La Galcante can be found at 52 rue de l’Arbre-Sec, in the 1st arrondissement (walk east along Rue Saint-Honoré, away from its designer epicentre, to the curious Fontaine de la Croix-du-Trahoir; and nip down to your right). For more information call +33 (0) 1 44 77 87 44, or look out for the launch of its new website.