Whether you’re a collector or a tourist looking for an unusual present, the Au Bonheur du Jour gallery is a treasure trove of erotic art to suit all budgets. The deliciously retro atmosphere is the antithesis of the city’s more modern galleries with their cold, contemporary white spaces (it’s rented from a friend who runs the well-known lesbian bar La Champmeslé just opposite). The Cocteau/Colette vibe is the perfect setting for the collection of male and female nudes that adorn the walls. If you're struggling to choose, we’d recommend the books by the gallery’s owner – catalogues comprising letters, photos, drawings, naughty anecdotes and well-argued research (€79). In particular, look for the bestselling ‘Décors de bordels, entre intimité et exubérance’, a history of all aspects of the oldest profession.
The gallery’s indefatigable proprietor is Nicole Canet, passionate about celebrating beautiful human bodies. She selectes pieces according to her taste, but with reference to social mores that have shaped fashions across the ages. She’s a walking encyclopaedia of decadence and its thousands of representations, and has all the advice a collector could need – not least from spending 20 years at the Marché Dauphine at the Puces de Saint-Ouen.
|Venue name:||Au bonheur du jour||Contact:|
11 rue Chabanais
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 2.30pm-7.30pm|
|Transport:||Métro : Pyramides|
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I was very excited to check out Au Bonheur du jour while I was living in Paris based on this recommendation. However, the proprietor was extremely rude to us when we were looking around, insisted twice that this was not some museum but that we had to buy something there and proceeded to glare at us until we left. I study art and art history, and spend lots of time in galleries such as this one where the owners are happy to allow people to look around. Obviously we were being very respectful, and I was considering buying something, but I like to take my time and not be pushed around. Anywhere that sells 2 euro postcards is not a high-end gallery worthy of such snobbery. I left extremely disappointed.