Place du Palais Royal, accross the Musée du Louvre, the Louvre des Antiquaires represent amongst 10 000 m2, 250 galleries, 30 specialities of works of art from Europe, Asia, Middle-East, from classical antiquities to the 1960's in a 19th century historical building.
1978-2008: The Louvre des Antiquaires today
Completion of the Louvre and Rue de Rivoli was ordered by Napoleon III for the Universal Exhibition of 1855. At his request, the first luxury hotel in Paris, the Hôtel du Louvre, was built on the Palais Royal square to accommodate people visiting the Universal Exhibition. The Neoclassical drawings were made by architects Charles Percier and Pierre-François Léonard Fontaine; brothers Emile and Isaac Pereire took charge of the construction of the Louvre des Antiquaires and became its owners.
When finished, a number of stores surrounded the Hôtel du Louvre on the ground floor in the four streets bordering the building. Five years later, brothers Emile and Isaac Pereire acquired all the stores and established the Grands Magasins du Louvre department store. In 1860, the Grand Hôtel du Louvre, which had 700 rooms, and the Grands Magasins du Louvre were the sole occupants of the immense building owned by the Pereire brothers. If you can imagine, the Grands Magasins du Louvre was like an immense trading post, a veritable beehive of activity throughout the year with its fifty-two departments and special counters.
The luxury and diversity were sufficient to satisfy the most demanding of customers …
Special theme exhibitions were held regularly: they were veritable events in Parisian life. It was said that, one year, for the year-end celebrations two million toys were on show in the hall of the Palais Royal – of course it was a tremendous success.
The Grands Magasins du Louvre, traces of which can still be seen in the form of the stone lions on either side of the main entrance, aroused such enthusiasm that soon the whole building was devoted to the store, with the hotel being moved to the other side of the square.
However, a century later, in 1975, the Grands Magasins du Louvre were in a sad state and a British investor decided to renovate the building. There followed three years of intense work and, on 26 October 1978, the new Louvre des Antiquaires site opened its doors, close to one hundred and thirty years after the building's inauguration by the Pereire brothers. The upper floors are devoted to the Louvre Business Centre – home to prestigious tenants such as the Ministry of Finance until 1990, the United States Embassy and the Banque de France…. But the really new element resides in the commercial concept of the Louvre des Antiquaires.
This group of 250 antiques and jewellery shops offers a wide panorama of specialities, sufficient to satisfy an experienced collector searching for a specific item or an impulse buy by a bargain-hunter. With an atmosphere enhanced by the amassed multitude of objects, giving an impression of profusion and consistency, refusal of specialisation by sector within the building and muted lighting and corridors that accentuate the display windows, spotlighting them like jewels in their cases, the Louvre des Antiquaires stands out as a unique place in Europe.
Every year around 500,000 international visitors pass through the porch of the Louvre des Antiquaires, which is open every day of the week except Mondays and Sundays in July and August, all year round. For many tourists, this site has become an essential part of their trek around the artistic attractions of Paris.
They find rare objects and meet dealers obsessed with art and history who share with them a love of fine objects.
The Louvre des Antiquaires is pursuing its destiny in the 21st century by adapting to the new situation of the art market, at the same time remaining loyal to its mission to help people discover the treasures inherited from History.