La boutique de la cour de Marbre / © François Guillemin
Retail spaces and veritable beacons of culture, designed as experiences through which to share culture and heritage.
[Sponsored article] No need to present the Château de Versailles, the French jewel that attracts millions of visitors each year.
But did you know that this place also hosts some of France’s most beautiful book and gift shops, filled with cultural treasures made in France? From books to luxurious decoration objects, from beauty products to true pieces of art, there’s something for everyone. These libraries-boutiques are managed by Rmn-GP.
Besides, the great news is, the boutiques’ product are also shipped to the United States, so even if you’re not planning on going to Paris or to the Château de Versailles anytime soon, you can enjoy exquisite French products from the comfort of your home.
To know more about Rmn-GP and its boutiques, we got an exclusive interview with Nicolas Petrou, Head of Rmn-GP Retail Spaces at the Château de Versailles.
What exactly is the Rmn-GP?
The Rmn-GP is a major cultural operator under the aegis of the French Ministry of Culture, which contributes to the knowledge and dissemination of museographic heritage.
Through its exhibition policy, it aims to increase and diversify audiences. As part of its retail operations, it manages 34 bookstores and gift shops at cultural institutions in France and abroad.
With its unparalleled network of stores, it offers museum visitors – including tourists, art lovers and art shoppers – a high-quality experience through carefully-selected ranges, expert staff, custom retail design, and innovative layouts.
How many bookstores and gift shops does the Rmn–GP run at the Château de Versailles?
The Rmn-GP operates five separate retail spaces, each with specific offers:
- The Librairie des Princes – which opened in 2011 and is accessible without a ticket to the Château de Versailles – is located to the left of the Cour d’Honneur at the Château de Versailles. In a historical yet contemporary setting spanning 200 m² (2,150 sq ft), it offers specialist books and a meticulous selection of items inspired by the splendor of the former royal residence, which celebrate the French art de vivre (crystal glassware, porcelain, scented candles).
- The Pavillon Dufour shop – also known as the “Citerne” in reference to its historic location once occupied by the cisterns of the Bouche du Roi, beneath the Cour des Princes – which opened to the public in 2016 and is located at the tour route exit of the Château. The Pavillon Dufour shop offers an innovative perspective on its products, with a resolutely modern choice of materials and new ideas on how a retail space can operate. The store’s offer is mainly made up of touristic products: postcards, books/guides, souvenir art objects…
- The Marble Courtyard boutique, which opened in 2018 at the foot of the Queen’s Staircase, at the end of the Grand Apartments tour, showcases creation and expertise over 150 m² (1,615 sq ft).
- The Grand Trianon shop, which was refurbished in 2019, is located at the end of the tour and features a selection of books and gifts relating to the collections and history of the Grand Trianon, nicknamed the “Marble Palace” by its architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
- The Gabriel shop, which is currently being refurbished and will open to the public in early 2024, is located in the lower vestibule of the Gabriel Hall, will offer a tourist-focused range centered on the highlights of the tour.
What products can one find in these bookstores and gift shops?
Rmn-GP’s aim is to appeal to an international visitor base, from first-time visitors to regulars.
At the Château de Versailles, the Rmn-GP is continuously developing its offer through over 4,350 references, including nearly 2,000 books. Throughout the Versailles estate, their different stores offer a host of souvenirs, books, visitor guides, postcards, jewelry, toys and games, stationery, tableware and more.
The excellence of the Rmn-GP is especially well-recognized in the field of museum bookstores, which showcase culture in a way that is accessible to all. The Librarie des Princes is a good example of this, as it offers books aimed at a wide audience alongside scientific publications intended for more specialist readers.
The Rmn-GP is also particularly committed to its range of products for children and young people. At the Librairie des Princes, there is a dedicated room where children can explore at their own scale, with a variety of reading and picture books that offer an initial entry point into art. At the Marble Courtyard boutique, which is a 150 m² (1,615 sq ft) space, little ones will also find a selection of T-shirts, toys and games, and children’s books. A few examples include a figurine of Marie-Antoinette for children to cast and paint, by Mako Moulage, a Napoleon Playmobil set, and a Château de Versailles picture book by Lamartine.
Does your product range evolve with the changing exhibitions?
We support the Château with its exhibition program and permanent collections. We take care of merchandising for the store offers and we adapt it with each new exhibition.
Why purchase a Château de Versailles-branded item?
Visitors come to the bookstores and gift shops because they would like to extend their experience at the Château.
Purchasing a branded item from the château they have visited gives it an “official” dimension; it is a cultural guarantee, a label of authenticity and quality. So, when you purchase a cast or engraving from our Art, Casting, and Chalcography Studios, which hold France Savoir-Faire d’Excellence (Excellence in French Savoir-Faire) and Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company) certification, you can be sure that you are getting a reproduction made using ancestral expertise in fine crafts.
What upcoming plans does the Rmn–GP have for the Château de Versailles?
We are continuing to develop our gift range with French brands.
In 2022, we launched the Herbier du Roi (King’s Herbarium) collection with Maison Baluchon, as well as a range in partnership with the brand Gangzai.
Showcasing the expertise of local businesses is another of our central commitments. A few examples of this include the “Biscuits des Châteaux” by Galland Terroirs, Fallot mustard, and natural soaps from the Savonnerie Royale (royal soap factory).
We are also boosting all our environmental efforts across the entire chain of creation, by working with French companies such as Garnier Tiebault, Gien, Bernardaud, and Lampes Berger.
Our key ambition is to make the Rmn-GP‘s bookstores and gift shops a cohesive part of the museum routes at the cultural institutions that house them, and to contribute to disseminating culture to all through our products.
Not planning on visiting Paris? Rmn-GP products are shipped to the United States! Visit the website and order your French products now. To discover more about Rmn-GP, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
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