Revolution Switzerland joined the modern-day Breguet brand in the city of lights to take a look back over the watchmaker’s life with a tour through the streets of the French capital. In order to help with planning, Abraham-Louis Breguet’s descendent and Vice President and Head of Patrimony and Marketing of the brand, Emmanuel Breguet, shared with us some of his favorite historical spots. If you are interested in a different kind of tour of Paris, follow in Abraham-Louis Breguet’s footsteps for a look back at the life and times of the famous watchmaker.
Museum and Boutique at No. 6 Place Vendôme
This is a great place to start a tour of Breguet’s Paris as access to the museum is free and there is no need to reserve in advance. The museum features a large range of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s work including a montre de souscription pocket watch with ruby cylinder escapement, a small tact watch with a blue enameled gold case that was sold to Madame Bonaparte, the very first four-minute tourbillon and a Turkish quarter repeater to name just a few of the masterpieces on display here. The museum also houses the company’s archives that have recorded every single timepiece sold and they can also be consulted on request.
Downstairs is Breguet’s flagship boutique with a large selection of the brand’s contemporary watch collections and jewelry.
Le Musée des Arts et Métiers
Founded in 1794, Le Musée des Arts et Métiers is an industrial design museum that houses a collection of scientific instruments and innovations belonging to the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. There are inventions by five generations of the Breguet family, from watchmaking to aviation and telegraph communications.
The Eiffel Tower
A visit to Paris’s Eiffel Tower should be on every tourist’s itinerary, but if you take a closer look from the North-East side, you will find the Breguet name inscribed under the first balcony. The name is one of 72 French scientists, engineers and mathematicians that were incorporated into the Eiffel Tower to appease those who were strongly against it at the time. The Breguet name actually refers to Abraham-Louis’s grandson, Louis Breguet, who was a physicist and inventor, but we know where his genes came from!
L’Institut de France
The Institut de France was one of the colleges of the historic University of Paris where the young Abraham-Louis Breguet took classes in mathematics and physics. He was to return later in his career as a member of the Académie de Sciences. Today the institute groups five different academies, the most famous of which is the Académie Française.
Quai de l’Horloge 39 and the Pont Neuf
Number 39 Quai de l’Horloge is where Abraham-Louis Breguet set up his shop and workshop. This beautiful old building is still standing and now houses a number of small shops and apartments. This was an excellent location at the time as it was just next to the Pont Neuf. “The Pont Neuf Bridge is now one of many in Paris, but back then it was the principle bridge in Paris – everything came across this bridge,” shares Emmanuel Breguet. “An author from that time called Lemercier, has this great description of Paris. He said: ‘If you’re looking for somebody in Paris, place yourself on Le Pont Neuf. If after three days you haven’t seen who you’re looking for, it’s because they’re not in Paris.’”
La Rue Bréguet and La Maison Bréguet
The Rue Bréguet is a street near the Place de la Bastille that also houses the five-star hotel and restaurant La Maison Bréguet, an excellent place to stop for lunch and enjoy the cuisine of David Lanher. This renowned chef is a defender of bistro food that combines the simplicity and elegance of French market produce and short-circuit sourcing. Note: The spelling of the Rue Bréguet is strangely incorrect, as the city mistakenly added an accent that shouldn’t be there.
Le Petit Trianon de Marie-Antoinette
Le Petit Trianon, on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, was built for the long-term mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1764, four years before the château was completed, and her successor Madame du Barry was the first to occupy the residence. When the 20-year-old King, Louis XVI, ascended to the throne in 1774, he gave the château and the surrounding park to his 19-year old Queen Marie-Antoinette. It was a haven of peace for her, away from the stately pomp of the court of Versailles, and she cherished her time there.
In 2006, Montres Breguet financed the entire restauration of Le Petit Trianon, both inside and out, bringing the original interior decoration back to life and creating a place where visitors could submerge themselves in this fascinating period of history. “The funding from Breguet is a thank you, two centuries later, to the Queen Marie-Antoinette, who died of a terrible fate,” notes Emmanuel Breguet. “She loved watchmaking and when she discovered Breguet’s genius, she became one of his first clients. It’s very beautiful that a brand like ours can pay homage to a client like Marie-Antoinette long after the fact. We’re very proud that Le Petit Trianon will be forever linked to Breguet,” he continues.
Cimetière du Père Lachaise
Last but not least on our Breguet tour of Paris is his final resting place at the Père Lachaise Cemetery. This incredible place is a popular tourist spot as many famous names can be found here, including Edith Piaf, Molière, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Chopin to name a few. Breguet’s tomb is also here, just up the hill from Chopin, and is a great place to reflect on this famous watchmaker whose influence on modern-day watchmaking continues to be felt.