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France’s Oldest—and Most Esteemed—Hardware Store

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France’s Oldest—and Most Esteemed—Hardware Store

May 8, 2017

Paris may have E. Dehillerin, France’s oldest kitchenware store, established in 1820, but Marseilles has Maison Empereur, a family-run institution opened in 1827 by Francois Empereur. The shop, overseen since 2000 by the decidedly discerning Laurence Guez, has the distinction of being the oldest hardware and cookware shop in the country; Guez is the sixth generation to carry on her family business.

All the essentials once offered by France’s traditional (and now shuttered) neighborhood kitchen emporiums can still be found at Maison Empereur—along with hardware items, bathroom goods, toys, and a slew of classic French staples for the home, from wicker chairs and enamel sinks to espadrilles. Think of Maison Empereur as the local hardware store meets Merci. Well worth a detour should you be in the South of France.

Photographs courtesy of Maison Empereur.

The shop is located in the heart of Marseille in a trio of storefronts; the Quincaillerie Generale is at 3 Rue d’Aubagne, shown below. The Arts Culinaires is at 4 Rue des Récolettes, and the Coutellerie is at 6 Rue des Récolette.
Above: The shop is located in the heart of Marseille in a trio of storefronts; the Quincaillerie Generale is at 3 Rue d’Aubagne, shown below. The Arts Culinaires is at 4 Rue des Récolettes, and the Coutellerie is at 6 Rue des Récolette.
Locally made Savon de Marseille (another area institution) and a display of woven striped towels.
Above: Locally made Savon de Marseille (another area institution) and a display of woven striped towels.
The cotton Maison Empereur Tea Towel is 5.90 Euros.
Above: The cotton Maison Empereur Tea Towel is 5.90 Euros.
Among the wares: classic French toys, including music boxes, playing cards, and string fishing nets.
Above: Among the wares: classic French toys, including music boxes, playing cards, and string fishing nets.
More pans for every occasion (blinis, crepes, chestnuts, and an oval Poele í Poisson for fish).
Above: More pans for every occasion (blinis, crepes, chestnuts, and an oval Poele í Poisson for fish).
A Maison Empereur Nut Gatherer tool is 6
Above: A Maison Empereur Nut Gatherer tool is 62.90 Euros.
Part of Maison Empereur&#8
Above: Part of Maison Empereur’s appeal is the traditional Old World setup, with leather bags hanging from the ceiling, straw hats piled on tables, and linen sold by the meter.
Traditional enamel sinks and porcelain fixtures on display in the bathroom section. Note the hammocks strung from the ceiling in the distance.
Above: Traditional enamel sinks and porcelain fixtures on display in the bathroom section. Note the hammocks strung from the ceiling in the distance.

Check out our posts on E. Dehilleren, the go-to source for kitchenware in Paris, and La Trésorerie, Paris’s new housewares shop. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay near Saint-Tropez (about a 30-minute drive from Marseille), consider La Suite Cassis, and for a worthwhile outing, see our post on a Provení§al Winery.

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on September 24, 2014.

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