Paris at 78rpm

With the advent of Google Street View starting to move beyond the U.S. (creepiness in tow), we can now investigate some of the forgotten locations that long ago were once gramophone record shops, dealers, or labels. Unlike the street views in New York City, Google snapped fairly crisp images on their jaunt through Paris. Here are some present-day locations that once played an important part in the dissemination of folkloric music on 78s throughout Europe. Click on the images for full-sized photos and locations via Google.




Top Row

Left: 26 Rue des Talliandieres, the former hardware shop and home of Le Soleil records, active from the late 1920s through the mid-1930s and owned by Martin Cayla. Le Soleil pressed hundreds of authentic recordings of French folk music from the Auvergne region, played on accordion, cabrette, banjo, and hurdy-gurdy.

Middle: 133 Boulevard Raspail, the former home of the Boîte Á Musique label, who pressed South American guitar music, African ethnographic recordings, and mainly lots of classical 78s.

Right: 30 Rue Beaujon, the home of Decca Records and Le Chant du Monde, among others. (This building might be new.) Decca was huge, of course – and instrumental in recording early West African music, as was Le Chant du Monde.

Middle Row

Left:  34 Rue des Rosiers, the former home of the gramophone shop of one Léon Speiser. Speiser was definitely active at least from ca. 1930-1940, and sold discs of early Algerian and Moroccan 78s. It is now rather fittingly a falafel shop!

Middle: 50 Avenue Montaigne, the former home of Philips. Philips was tireless in competing with the major labels by recording all across West and North Africa in the late-40s/early-50s, producing some amazing recordings.

Right: 48 Rue Pouchet, the humble (in comparison to Philips) former home of the tiny Africa Vox label. Africa Vox and it’s owner’s home were probably one in the same – they recorded and released a number of beautiful ethnographic recordings in rural parts of Western Africa.

Bottom Row

Left: 251-253 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, the location where the French Pathé label and the French offices of Columbia Records used to reside.

Middle: 28 Rue Lesage, the former gramophone shop of H. Artinian, a one-time dealer in “Disques Armeniens, Grecs & Turcs.”

Right: 72 Cours de Vincennes, the former home of Charles Pathé’s first gramophone shop, opened ca. 1895, about a year before he opened the Pathé Frères company with his three brothers.

9 thoughts on “Paris at 78rpm

  1. Not only is 34 Rue des Rosiers a falafel shop, it is purportedly the best shop in Paris and on many nights there is a lengthy queue to place your order. If you like to make pilgrimages to locations important to the history of sound recording or to great restaurants, you have two reasons to go now! Rue des Rosiers is in the old Jewish quarter, so don’t go on Shabbat as most of the shops will be closed, including L’As.

  2. Awesome. If I ever get to Paris, I know where to eat now!

    Thanks for showing us these locations at any rate, though. It makes me wish I could have been there, in the shops, or the Phillips offices. I often wonder what the conversations were like in the offices of a company like Phillips or Odeon or Pathe–what did they say about ethnographic recordings when they came back from the field? I’d give a lot to go back and just spend a few days.

  3. Hello everyone, my compliments on this site and the authors of the contributions.

    Re Le Soleil, I have an old photograph showing Martin Cayla and other musicians playing on a stage. I would love to share it here, but how do I post it?

    In the 1980s, I think, I went in search of the Martin Cayla music store in Paris and found it in the north of the city, just off one of the “grands boulevards.” I wish my recollections were more precise. I do remember the store was by then your typical music store with cheap drum sets and electric guitars, but they had kept a whole series of display cases with traditional instruments from Auvergne, including bagpipes (cabrette) played by Cayla. They didn’t have any 78s anymore, but they had a few reissue LPs left compiled from Cayla’s Le Soleil sides. I bought a couple and wish I had bought all they had… Interestingly, I have been able to find a pretty good number of Le Soleil discs since.

  4. you’ve seen the Phonogalerie site, right?
    MIND-BLOWING shop specializing in early sound reproduction machines with a pretty serious record room.
    (Got some amazing records there in October – Refik Bey, Abdul Karim Khan, a French copy of Rev Kelsey’s “Little Boy” with a superior B-Side than the American issue, Amalia Rodrigues, early 20s flamenco, etc etc…)

  5. What are you, bragging? 🙂

    Yes, I know the shop. But you should have seen what I found in L.A. this summer and fall.


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