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Some places can transport visitors to a secret world, different from all the others, because their history belongs only to them. The apartment of the Maison Empereur is one of these places where a simple turn of the key is all that is needed to make magic. In the subtle lighting and simple decor, furniture, objects, photos and tools come together to tell the unique story of generations of hardware lovers with a passion for their craft. The story reveals the exchanges and inventiveness of a business that has been dedicated to the daily life of so many of Marseille's inhabitants for almost two centuries. Everything has been preserved, yet the property is always evolving because the Maison Empereur, two floors down, is still an active business.
In the 18th century, André François Empereur worked as a nailer near the Old Port. His son, François Louis Adélaïde Empereur, followed in his foot steps. In addition to working as a nailer, he added tool, gimlet, drill and serrated saw making to his list of skills in the family workshop. In 1827, François bought the Bolfras Hardware store in the Bourse district and renamed it "Quincaillerie Empereur" (Empereur Hardware). In 1862, the hardware store expanded with the arrival of François' son, Louis - he was an ironmonger and joined his workshop with the hardware store in the three wolves building at number 4 on rue des Récolettes.
The Maison Empereur is located in an old building in Marseille, at the centre of the "ventre de Marseille". It brought several buildings together which were originally separate. The Maison Empereur's 1000 m2 of alleyways plunge guests into a sober and authentic universe where each generation has left its mark.
The building is at the centre of the Noailles district, on the corner of the Belsunce and Saint-Louis courtyards where the city's zero point is located. It is from here that distances between Marseille and other cities of France are measured. In 1862, the hardware store expanded in the heart of the city with the arrival of François' son, Louis - an ironmonger who joined his workshop with the hardware store in the three wolves building at 4 rue des Récolettes. The store is still at this address today. In 1890, Alfred (the third generation of hardware representatives) took the lead. With no son, his succession was assured in 1922 by his son-in-law, Paul Renaux. In 1960, Roger Renaux and his wife Jeanne took over from Paul and developed a world of armory within the hardware store. In the 21st century, the seventh generation took over and for the first time a woman, Laurence Renaux-Guez (daughter of Roger and Jeanne) was in charge of the company.
As it always has done, Empereur lives by a simple and demanding philosophy: to prioritise quality and authenticity in everything they do. 90% of the living heritage's companies are represented here: they perpetuate the tradition and excellence of French production, some have been displayed on our shelves since the opening of the store. We also work with factories around the world who share our dedication to excellence. Our daily challenge is to remain faithful to the requirements of our loyal clientele. The apartment is located above the store's offices on the second floor. It belonged to the family at the beginning of last century, Laurence Renaux Empereur bought it in 2015. Many of our clients enjoy looking through the objects piled up in the offices and seeing photos of our ancestors. The guest apartment showcases the Empereur family's history. Many archives are displayed in the form of paintings and old tools adorning the walls. The shop windows are full of old objects. After picking up the keys in our shop, our guests have direct access to the apartment.
We support and remain partners of several establishments such as Father Blaize, the Saladin grocery store or 'L'Idéal' grocery store just two doors down. We would also recommend the Maison Plauchu, the oldest pâtisserie in Marseille. Good restaurants to remember in the city centre are: La boite Sardine, Chez Nour (Egyptian cuisine), La pizzeria de la Bonne Mèreor and, a little further out in the Goudes quarter, Chez Paul.
120 € - 150 € / night
Located in an old Marseille building that also houses the Maison Empereur hardware store, this 200 m2 apartment is on the second floor. It has a living room, a double bedroom, a bathroom, a sheltered terrace and a kitchen that can be used for breakfast and warming prepared dishes. It is equipped with a minibar, coffee machine, kettle, toaster and microwave.