Timeless Paris: Marin Montagut
Updated: Nov 19
Book Review: Timeless Paris by Marin Montagut. Published on 7 October 2021 by Flammarion. Between £22 - £30, depending on retailer.
[Disclosure: Flammarion provided me with an advance copy this book for the purposes of this review but due to delivery and Covid issues, my review is published a little late. Apologies!]
Artist and designer Marin Montagut has released this beautiful book, Timeless Paris, just in time for Christmas! Coming from a family of artists and antique dealers, Montagut loved beautiful, unique, handmade objects from a very early age. As a child he dreamed of moving to Paris to immerse himself in la vie artistique. His dream came true when at 19, he moved from Toulouse to Paris, with a box of watercolours, some paint brushes and not much else. He has spent the intervening years getting to know the City of Lights intimately – seeking out the quiet places; examining exquisite objects and learning about craftsmanship and history.
Timeless Paris is the culmination of those hours and years of exploration. It is quite a unique hard cover book that includes fascinating one-page summary pieces on each of Montagut’s favourite places, often shops, in Paris. Each piece is accompanied by beautiful photographs by Ludovic Balay, Pierre Musellec and Romain Ricard as well as elegant drawings and story boards by Montagut himself.
When I first saw the book, I thought it looked a bit old fashioned, with strange spacing and font choice on the front cover. As I read through, I realised that I’ve become so habituated to the Scandi aesthetic, which has colonised the world (including this blog), that when something breaks those rules, it looks odd to me. But gradually, by spending time with the book, its quirky, old-fashioned charm converted me.
I‘ve loved dipping into Timeless Paris to read about the history of each of the places described and the beautiful objects that they contain. There are ribbons, buttons, doorknobs, soaps, books, art supplies, insects, minerals, taxidermy...Two of my favourite shops listed are the artists’ pastel makers, Sennelier and La Maison Du Pastel. I buy pastels regularly, particular from Sennelier, and I had no idea of the history or the origins of these lovely products or that the companies are still run by the founding families.
I took this photo of my copy of Timeless Paris - in La Maison Du Pastel's shop.
It was incredible to read that La Maison Du Pastel family still makes its pastels by hand and the family can identify which member made each stick by recognising the fingerprints imprinted in them. I can’t wait to drop in on the Sennelier shop, just across from the Louvre, which has not changed since the 1800s. I’ll be in good company – Picasso and Degas used to frequent Sennelier to buy their pastels. Perhaps any pastels I buy directly from Sennelier, instead of online, will imbue my own works with some special brilliance?
I took this photo of my copy of Timeless Paris - in Sennelier's shop.
I think this is the true value of Timeless Paris at this particular moment in time. Travelling for most of us is fraught right now…especially travel for the sheer joy of moseying down the backstreets of a beautiful city just to see what you can see.
Timeless Paris is that, in book form. Though in some senses, even better, as there is no disappointment – turn every page and you will find something unique, quirky, beautiful, unusual and historic. Each time I dip into this book, I add another destination to my list of what I will visit when things get a little easier.
The unique travelogue aspect of Timeless Paris makes it a rather lovely gift to give someone who is feeling down and a bit claustrophobic with the realities of international travel right now. Or perhaps, you can buy it for yourself and explore the backstreets of Paris, browse the beautiful and unique shops and examine exquisite objects all from the comfort of your own armchair.
If you enjoyed the idea of travelling through reading, then you might enjoy my post on Mind Travel: Books To Take You To Another Place and Mind Travel: Books To Take You To Another Place Part II.