Behind the Louvre

The oldest guitar shop in Paris is François CHARLE, located in the Galerie Véro-Dodat, one of the most elegant covered streets remaining in the centre of the city. Dating from 1823, it is one of the only galleries surviving in ‘period’ condition. Located between rue Croix des Petits Champs and rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, just off rue St Honoré at the back of the Louvre, the gallery is home to numerous other arts-related enterprises. It’s a tiny place and one for serious aficionados. An English speaking salesman who could play like Django Reinhardt took me up a narrow wooden staircase. About forty or so instruments were displayed cheek-by-jowl in a space the size of my bathroom. I looked at the four-figure plus price tags. The guy gave me a 1932 Gibson L Series Custom, sunburst, great original condition down to the tortoiseshell firestripe pickguard  – astonishing for something twenty years older than me – a steal at 4,800The thing sang like an organ – I counted eleven seconds of sustain on the bass E string. They are an authorised Martin repair shop – about twenty or so Martins were on show, from forty year old 00-18’s to a spectacular double necked open G minor tuned (12+6) D45 made on Martin’s Goliath frame. I knew they existed but have never seen one. The pictured highlight was a Martin 3.17, dated 1860. Oh, yeah.

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