The oldest cigar shop in the world
Long before J.J. Fox established itself in London (in 1787), Hajenius in Amsterdam (in 1914) or Nat Sherman in New York (in 1930), the Paris “À la Civette” is without a doubt the oldest cigar shop in the world. Founded in 1716, the famous rue Saint-Honoré store will celebrate its 300th anniversary in mid-April. A « tobacco shop » that became a ‘memory lane’ spot.
By Thierry Dussard
From Louis XV to the French Revolution
The year is 1716 and the Nicot herb’s leaves are starting to leave the jars of apothecaries to fill snuff boxes. Tobacco powders are then flavored with the diluted secretions of civettes, small mangoose-like mammals. In his memoirs published in 1750, Casanova attests to the fact the « tout-Paris » (Parisian high society) likes to hang out at the establishment located under the arches of the Palais-Royal and carry little packets bearing the name « Tabacs à priser de la Civette » (la Civette’s snuff tobacco).
A rendez-vous for the literary, political and art worlds
Voltaire, Diderot and Benjamin Franklin, to name a few, buy their tobacco there. In the 19th century, writers like Balzac, Nerval or Musset regularly show up at La Civette. Painters such as Delacroix, Degas or Manet are also customers.
Since its last move, in 1860, the shop front, which for a long time had a banner reading « Luxury tobaccos, cigars from La Havana » features pyramids of empty boxes. The cigars themselves are stored in a vaulted cellar in the basement.
« Cigars from France, superior cigars from La Havana, Manila and Mexico in their original boxes. French, Algerian, American, English, Egyptian, Ottoman, Russian, etc, cigarettes ». At the beginning of the 20th century the Civette’s letterhead paper gives a good idea of the treasures available in the shop.
To properly celebrate the shop’s 300th anniversary, the managers have prepared a special cigar rolled in Honduras. For aficionados versed in history !
A name that is now part of the common language
Borrowed from the animal, the name of the historical cigar shop is now part of the common language. It designates a cigar shop. As of 2016, France has 70 ‘civettes’ spread out all over the country.
A la Civette, 157 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris