Monday, 19 October 2009

Art shop review: Magasin Sennelier, Paris

Name of shop: Sennelier
Address: - 3 quai Voltaire 75007 Paris
Travel to:
  • Métro: Palais Royal - Rue du Bac - Saint Germain
  • Autobus: 24 - 27 - 39 - 48 - 68 - 95
  • Parking: Drugstore - Louvre Carrousel - Saint Germain des Près - Montalembert
Hours: Open every day except Sunday and Monday morning from 10am to 12.45 and from 2.00pm to 6.30pm
Telephone: Tél:0142607215 / Fax:0142610069
Online Store: The website is not really set up for dealing with online orders from people from places outside France. It's more along the lines of providing an online catalogue. I noted that the minimum order is 50.00 euro. Orders should be addressed and signed and confirmed by a deposit or the number of your credit card. The postage and packing are charged to the customer. Goods travel at the risk of the recipient.
Of interest to: Artists who specialise, like me, in the use of dry media - pastels and pencils. Also of interest to those who would like to purchase pigments.
  • fabulous range of raw pigments sold
  • independent supplier and hence not tied into stocking product ranges 'approved'elsewhere
  • customer service appears helfpul; some English spoken
  • supplies a range of pastels (not just Sennelier)
  • excellent choice of coloured pencils - both artist grade and water soluble
  • very good range of different paint media (including some which are not often found elsewhere) and an extensive range of brushes
  • Good range of pastel supports
Think Again?
Summary: A traditional shop which has been around for over 120 years and is likely to be around for a long time to come. I don't think you'll find a bargain but you will see the complete range of some products which are difficult to see elsewhere.
Magasin Sennelier
Le spécialiste de la restauration, des toiles à peindre, des chevalets, des papiers du monde, de la calligraphie mais aussi de la sculpture, de la gravure... et de la la couleur.
Gustave Sennelier set up his art shop at 3 Quai Voltaire in 1887 - some 122 years ago! You can read (in French) about the history of the firm and the shop.

Since that date, many an artist from countries other than France have found their way to its front door.

If you don't have an opportunity to visit, you can see a slideshow of all the photos I took in the Sennelier Shop at 3 Quai Voltaire in Paris on Flickr - with explanations of what each picture is showing.

A very traditional art shop

The shop includes more of a focus on dry media and pigments, soft pastels, coloured pencils and pencils than most. For UK readers I'd liken it to Cornelissens in London in terms of layout and style - wood floors and a limited presence of modern product display units. One got the impression these were only used if they were more effective than alternatives. Personally speaking I like to see a shop which specialises in pastels with old fashioned pastel drawers - and these were of course present!


It's a shop which most pastellists who get to Paris try and visit - if only to see the complete range of Sennelier soft pastels and oil pastels. The display of the giant oil pastels is certainly very impressive. Other pastels stocked included Unison, Pan Pastels and Derwent pastel pencils

Coloured pencils

I paid a visit to see the complete Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 range on display. I like the pencils a lot but I don't like the price and don't quite know what possessed me to pay €3.95 each for several of them! I did notice that the shop price was significantly more than the price quoted on the Sennelier website.

This is a shop for all coloured pencils fans as it also stocks the complete range of Faber Castell Polychromos, Caran d'ache Pabo as well as Neocolor, Cretacolor and Aquamonolith.


I wasn't paying attention to the paints on offer but the store does offer a good range of good quality paints - for oils, acrylics an watercolour paintings - plus associated media and brushes.


The wall of jars of pigments is simply stunning.

Website and online ordering

The website is written in French and small parts of it have been translated quite badly (automatically?). I wouldn't feel confident about trying to order anything from the shop using the website but if you're good at French or are prepared to persevere I'm sure it's possible. The minimum order that they will deal with is €50.


My Favourite Art Shops - Resources for Artists
As more and more sales move online, it's crucial that all artists continue to patronise and support our favourite 'bricks and mortar' art shops in our towns and cities. These are where we can find the specialist art materials which can be impossible to find online. This site contains:
(1) reviews of favourite art shops
(2) photographs of what they look inside
(3) details of how to find them.


Astrid Volquardsen said...

what I really liked about this shop was its atmosphere. If you squint your eyes, you wouldn't be surprised, if one of the old masters would show up.
If you go to Senneliers website, you can actually see on the old photographs, that the shop hasn't changed at all.

Making A Mark said...

I knew there was something else I wanted to say when I was writing this review yesterday but it stubbornly refused to emerge - but you've nailed it with your comment!

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