The drugstore Taverne, a family business for 130 years, in the city center of Toulouse

The drugstore Taverne, a Toulouse institution for 130 years
The Pharmacy Taverne, a Toulouse institution for 130 years (©Philippe Salvador/Actu Toulouse)

Knocking open the tavern drugstore door is how to do a time skip. It’s 130 years since the small shop was founded at 14 rue Saint-Antoine-du-T in the city center of Toulouse. And not much seems to have changed since then. The smell of shoe polish, washing powder and paper from Armenia. Advertising from the beginning of the last century for forgotten brands. The weathered furniture, the centuries-old tools and the gas light on the ceiling that we preferred to keep. “Here is a soul” summarizes Christiane Espinasse, 92 years oldthe granddaughter of the founder François Taverne.

Chez les Taverne, the traces of a forgotten past
Chez les Taverne, the traces of a forgotten past (© drugstore tavern)

It all starts with a paint shop…

Bon pied bon œil, this little lady still runs the shop with her daughter Béatrice and grandson Sébastien. Mostly on one of the four chairs arranged in front of the counter, which are there just for those who want to cut a bib. She tells the life of her ancestor. Like, in what was in the beginning a paint shopHe traced and painted the letters of the shop windows or panels “in three layers”. “That wasn’t a gnognotte! And it was better not to make a spelling mistake, otherwise you’d have to start all over again. “As he had become Attribute Specialist.

“He made drawings to translate specific words on the signs. Boots for a shoemaker, a hat for a hatter… Because most people couldn’t read. We have no idea what life was like back then.”

Christiane EspinasseFrom the drugstore tavern
The Taverne house originally specialized in painting
The Taverne house originally specialized in painting (© drugstore tavern)

The Craftsman Street

The Dean describes the rue Saint-Antoine-du-T of the Belle Epoque. “The buildings that we know were all already there. Except that there was a craftsman on every floor. So much so that my grandfather was very reluctant to settle here because of the competition. My grandmother Alida finally convinced him by telling him that everyone else would disappear, that only the tavern would remain. His words were prescient.” Apart from clothing retailers, the store hasn’t had any neighbors for a long time.

The only qualified pharmacist in Toulouse

After the Second World War, the place became exclusively a drugstore. And that Christiane started working there. She says she is the only one in Toulouse to have acquired a druggist’s CAP in 1953. “It is ridiculous to have abolished this diploma because we still sell dangerous products. His father, “a loud-mouthed squad leader”, only handed him over when he was 91. History repeats itself in the taverns.

Ali Baba's tavern on rue Saint-Antoine-du-T in Toulouse
Ali Baba’s tavern on rue Saint-Antoine-du-T in Toulouse (©Philippe Salvador/Actu Toulouse)

Ali Baba’s Tavern

“When I look at photos of the inside of the store, I say to myself, ‘But what stuff!’ When you’re inside, you don’t notice it. This is Ali Baba’s Tavern,” laughs Christiane Espinasse. Around them, over a thousand items. Bristle brushes or brooms and ostrich feather dusters. Encaustic waxes, baking soda, black soap and white vinegar. potting soil and fertilizers, insecticides and whetstones. corkscrews, nutcrackers or tablecloth clips. Even though almost everything can now be bought online, customers are still flocking to the drugstore Taverne for advice. These cannot be found anywhere else.

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