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Paris

The old and the beautiful

The quiet Nouvelle Athenes neighborhood in Paris' Ninth Arrondissement has long drawn aesthetes to its tranquil streets. In the late 19th century, Place Saint-Georges was the haunt of painters, composers, and writers, including Balzac, Chopin, and Victor Hugo. Around the turn of the century the area was eclipsed by the flashier Grands Boulevards nearby. But these days the city's bohèmes have rediscovered its leafy courtyards and delightful squares, opening a host of affordable antiques shops on and around Rue Saint-Georges. The finds here are charmingly eclectic, if less luxe than their Left Bank counterparts. In fact, dealers here go by the more modest appellation of brocanteur, the equivalent of a secondhand store or thrift shop. But they're well worth the trip. The experience is less daunting than a foray at les puces and the finds just as serendipitous.

GILLES OUDIN This dealer's store, on the wide, tree-lined Avenue Trudaine just above Saint-Georges, is a modernist junkie's paradise (and a favorite of designer Andrée Putman). The sleek, high-ceilinged shop is stocked with industrial artifacts from the late-19th to mid-20th centuries, and only the savviest buyers will be able to guess the oversized pieces' original uses. An elegant slab of black slate fitted with wrought-iron legs was originally a fishmonger's stall dating back to the 19th century ($11,230); an oblong metallic table is actually part of an industrial ironing board from the 1940s ($1,125).

Oudin and his partner, Lydia Manic, are quick to point out that they deal exclusively in functional pieces. "We have objects that were once useful in a work environment," Manic says. "They have been used, they're not made by decorators." Specialties at Oudin include include rare early-20th-century lamps made by the Manufacture Gras, which were used by architects and designers like Le Corbusier and Robert Mallet-Stevens and run from $565 (for the classic desk models) to $3,370 (for older pieces or those that were designed specifically for architects). Among our favorite items are the workshop chairs made by the Manufacture Bienaise, which were produced in the 1920s in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some were even made out of unusual materials like papier-mâché ($610-$3,090). $ At 20 Avenue Trudaine; 33-1-48-74-04-24. Closed Sunday and Monday. Oudin and his partner, Lydia Manic, are quick to point out that they deal exclusively in functional pieces. "We have objects that were once useful in a work environment," Manic says. "They have been used, they're not made by decorators." Specialties at Oudin include include rare early-20th-century lamps made by the Manufacture Gras, which were used by architects and designers like Le Corbusier and Robert Mallet-Stevens and run from $565 (for the classic desk models) to $3,370 (for older pieces or those that were designed specifically for architects). Among our favorite items are the workshop chairs made by the Manufacture Bienaise, which were produced in the 1920s in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some were even made out of unusual materials like papier-mâché ($610-$3,090). $ At 20 Avenue Trudaine; 33-1-48-74-04-24. Closed Sunday and Monday.

RICHARD CHALMONT This antiques dealer is a relative newcomer to the area; he set up shop last March after more than a decade at the Marché Serpette in Saint-Ouen. But his small, uncluttered store, painted an elegant shade of dark orange, fits right into the bohemian neighborhood. His avowed specialty is paintings—any paintings—and offerings can vary widely, from a drawing of a boy's profile by Jean Cocteau ($1,685) to a painted pastel wood panel from the 1940s depicting a scene from the Commedia dell'Arte ($675).

Chalmont's personal taste is for cubist works or paintings from the Italian Baroque, which he buys from colleagues and at various fairs. The son of an antiques dealer, Chalmont decided to specialize in paintings early on when he noticed that those were always what moved him among his father's finds. But he insists you'll find a little of everything in his store, including items such as a small Louis XVI desk from the 1880s ($2,810). "It's almost more difficult to deal in paintings," he says. "They're often unsigned and it's harder to attribute them." $ At 27 Rue Saint-Georges; 33-1-49-70-07-40. Closed Sunday; open Saturday by appointment. Chalmont's personal taste is for cubist works or paintings from the Italian Baroque, which he buys from colleagues and at various fairs. The son of an antiques dealer, Chalmont decided to specialize in paintings early on when he noticed that those were always what moved him among his father's finds. But he insists you'll find a little of everything in his store, including items such as a small Louis XVI desk from the 1880s ($2,810). "It's almost more difficult to deal in paintings," he says. "They're often unsigned and it's harder to attribute them." $ At 27 Rue Saint-Georges; 33-1-49-70-07-40. Closed Sunday; open Saturday by appointment.

CURIOSITES-CONTRASTES The sign outside Jean-Pierre Malga's store reads Curiosités. It is a difficult concept to translate—it roughly means "odd knickknacks"—but it is a fitting description of the range of Malga's merchandise. With a passion for anything bizarre and out-of-the-ordinary (dating from the 1850s to the 1950s), Malga has assembled a cluttered treasure trove in his store: Chinese jars filled with 19th-century canes grafted from ivory, precious woods, or rhinoceros horn ($170-$1,685); a prototype lamp that looks like wrought iron but is, in fact, a wooden trompe l'oeil painted black and surprisingly light to hold ($900); and a haberdasher's plate in the shape of a gigantic wooden hat, from the Sarthe region ($4,495). For gardeners, Malga recently had a metal planter made with rows of upturned scissors. "I like things that scare people, things with teeth and eyes," he says with a smile. Most of his clients are other dealers from the Rive Gauche and decorators, but he has his share of famous followers too: Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier is a regular, as is Catherine Deneuve, who knows to get Malga at the nearby café if he's not minding the store. $ At 46 Rue Saint-Georges; 33-1-40-16-93-03. Closed Saturday and Sunday except in December. CURIOSITES-CONTRASTES The sign outside Jean-Pierre Malga's store reads Curiosités. It is a difficult concept to translate—it roughly means "odd knickknacks"—but it is a fitting description of the range of Malga's merchandise. With a passion for anything bizarre and out-of-the-ordinary (dating from the 1850s to the 1950s), Malga has assembled a cluttered treasure trove in his store: Chinese jars filled with 19th-century canes grafted from ivory, precious woods, or rhinoceros horn ($170-$1,685); a prototype lamp that looks like wrought iron but is, in fact, a wooden trompe l'oeil painted black and surprisingly light to hold ($900); and a haberdasher's plate in the shape of a gigantic wooden hat, from the Sarthe region ($4,495). For gardeners, Malga recently had a metal planter made with rows of upturned scissors. "I like things that scare people, things with teeth and eyes," he says with a smile. Most of his clients are other dealers from the Rive Gauche and decorators, but he has his share of famous followers too: Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier is a regular, as is Catherine Deneuve, who knows to get Malga at the nearby café if he's not minding the store. $ At 46 Rue Saint-Georges; 33-1-40-16-93-03. Closed Saturday and Sunday except in December.

FREDERIC SPORTIS Another former puces dealer, this one from the more eclectic Vanves market, Frédéric Sportis draws unanimous praise from his Ninth Arrondissement counterparts for the quality of his window displays. Showcasing his whimsical taste and penchant for the Neoclassical, they might include late-19th-century albums of Grand Tour photographs, such as the pictures of Greek sculptures and Florentine views that belonged to one of the founders of Paris' Musée Guimet ($225-$900). Or he may display a head of Nero ($280) and a small Art Deco, Egyptian-style wood ship painted black and gold and containing a dozen rowers and a majestic pharaoh in the center ($450). Sportis has crammed every inch of the narrow store with his finds, from original costume reproductions (those for Edmond Rostand's 1910 play Chantecler sold for $1,685) to sculpted frames and 1920s ceramics. $ At 42 Rue Saint-Georges; 33-1-42-80-96-16, 33-6-08-03-46-05. Closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. FREDERIC SPORTIS Another former puces dealer, this one from the more eclectic Vanves market, Frédéric Sportis draws unanimous praise from his Ninth Arrondissement counterparts for the quality of his window displays. Showcasing his whimsical taste and penchant for the Neoclassical, they might include late-19th-century albums of Grand Tour photographs, such as the pictures of Greek sculptures and Florentine views that belonged to one of the founders of Paris' Musée Guimet ($225-$900). Or he may display a head of Nero ($280) and a small Art Deco, Egyptian-style wood ship painted black and gold and containing a dozen rowers and a majestic pharaoh in the center ($450). Sportis has crammed every inch of the narrow store with his finds, from original costume reproductions (those for Edmond Rostand's 1910 play Chantecler sold for $1,685) to sculpted frames and 1920s ceramics. $ At 42 Rue Saint-Georges; 33-1-42-80-96-16, 33-6-08-03-46-05. Closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

XAVIER EECKHOUT and ARTHUR BRUET Les petits jeunes (the young ones) is how other dealers in the area affectionately call these two 30-year-old Vanves merchants who recently set up shop on Rue Saint-Lazare. More brocanteurs than antiquaires, Eeckhout and Bruet like to keep their inventory moving fast, which explains why prices can range from $35 to $28,070. "The best days to come and visit us are Mondays and Tuesdays," Bruet says, "because we'll have spent our weekend scouring markets and buying things." A complete set of antique silverware can go for as low as $340, but it's also possible to find an early-20th-century marble lion by French sculptor Georges Gardet for $7,860. Eeckhout and Bruet specialize in hunting and riding themes; their selection includes a pair of hunting scenes after Carl Vernet, the 19th-century French military artist ($565) and a lithograph by Georges Busson depicting a 19th-century postilion ($1,010). At 30 Rue Saint-Lazare; 33-1-42-80-49-22. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.

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