We took the métro to eastern Paris expecting the worst. Climbing the stairs, we came out into a wide street full of traffic and noise and tired old buildings. The first sign we saw pointed down the tiny Passage de la Voûte. Those passages are always pissoirs, so we held our breath and descended the stairs, coming out on rue de la Voûte and to a pleasant surprise. It is a charming street, probably the quietest street in all of Paris, and seems not to have changed since 1936. There are a couple of post-War buildings, but most are older, modest but well-maintained. There were green, flower-filled alleyways, small shops selling accordions or violins, and one of those lovely small boulangeries that are disappearing from Paris. People walked more slowly and were more polite than in other parts of Paris. To be there was to step back in time to another era. What better place to find a shop devoted to the past?
La Librairie de la Voûte is a small treasure trove of a bookshop devoted exclusively to French genealogy. There were genealogy guides, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, directories, children's genealogy starter books. There was every brand of genealogy software offered in French and books explaining how to use each of them. Along with standard publications on genealogy, including nearly all that are listed in the column to the right, were books on local history of every part of France. (We could not find, however, anything on a region we have been researching : Vexin, but they had books on every other corner of France.) One table was a display of back issues of Généalogie Magazine (more on that in a future post) and in the corner were a dozen blank family charts of different and charming designs.
Without doubt the best thing about the librairie de la Voûte is its extensive list of its own publications. Most are A5-size pamphlets of 20-25 pages, and most cost €5, though some can be as much as €25. In the series entitled "Communes et Anciennes Paroisses de France", there is a pamphlet for every département, listing all of the pre-Revolutionary parishes and communes. In the "Collection Familles" are early genealogies of various ancient families, nearly all from Bretagne. Of course, there is also every possible book on the French nobility, their coats of armour, their genealogies, their mottos.
They have a very good website from which nearly everything can be ordered (but do, please, support this site by ordering some from the side column!) However, if you are in Paris, skip the website and stroll down the delightful rue de la Voûte to visit the best genealogy bookshop in Paris which, since its absorption of La Librairie du Généalogiste in the 6th arrondissement, it is the only genealogy bookshop in Paris.
Librairie de la Voûte
24 Rue de la Voûte
tel: (00 33) 43 07 81 63
métro : Porte de Vincennes on line 1
©2009 Anne Morddel