The thing I love most about Paris is that I always end up walking around a lot, and I’m never sure quite what I’m going to find. So on the trip back to the hotel last night, in a small side-street near the Place des Vosges, my eye was taken by the shop window of one Joséphine Vannier, announcing itself as “chocolat artisanal”. This is chocolate as you’ve never seen it: the window was packed with a display of beautifully crafted musical instruments, sculpted in chocolate. I can’t even begin to imagine how the surface finish was done (how exactly do you do a sunburst guitar finish in confectionery), but you can see the general idea in the picture.

But next door was even more extraordinary: the shop front of André Bissonet, dealer in antique musical instruments. Inside was an Aladdin’s cave of musical treasures: antique harps, hurdy-gurdies, lyre guitars, some very unique looking harpsichords and all manner of wind and stringed instruments. The owner was obviously encyclopaedic on the provenance of each one. There were several instruments that I’d only ever seen before in museums, and several more that I’ve never seen before at all: a real treat.

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A few streets away, close to the Jewish religious quarter, the Paris historical library was advertising an evening show of the history of Paris set to music, with guitar, voice and percussion. You never quite know what to expect in these parts.

David Karlin 5th June 2009

If anyone visiting Paris is interested, both shops are on the quaintly named rue du Pas-de-la-Mule, 75003 Paris, just on the west side of the Place des Vosges heading towards Bastille.