In 1961 the neighbourhood of Maubert–Mutualité where diptyque opened its boutique, was miles away from the Saint-Germain area. Surroundings, activities, lifestyle, social conditions and communities were all different from each other – these were two opposite little worlds.
Boulevard Saint-Germain goes through the 7th, 6th and 5th arrondissements like an uninterested river. At the time Saint-Germain was better-off, more bourgeois, also younger and more intellectual having been in the proximity of the Sorbonne University, other elite and prestigious schools. It was also more rebellious and troublemaking by tradition plus it was more international as it had become the heart of a wonderful cultural blend where all kinds of people would mingle, party and help bring in a new era with the sound of jazz, French songs and up-beating rock’n’roll. Scholars and thieves, well-known personalities and much younger artists and journalists, activists and the curious were giving rise to new intellectuals.
Whereas the Maubert neighbourhood was quieter, less modern and more industrious. There were many craftsmen, ragmen and secondhand shops. Modest restaurants serving savory traditional cuisine. Typical popular bars, little boutiques, boarding houses. A bread, fruit and vegetable market had been in Place Maubert for centuries and the Maison de la Mutualité that had been built in the thirties would often have meetings of the French Left which would strengthen the difference between the two neighborhoods. An Asian community originating from Cochinchina and Tonkin of the French Empire had set up in the area providing small Vietnamese restaurants popular for their excellent food. It was a very pleasant neighborhood, bathed in the harmony of the various communities living together. Maubert was lively and a nice place to live in.
From the end of the war to the sixties, the polarity between the two areas evened out. People mixed, goods circulated better, but Maubert still retained its popular identity.
The three friends who founded diptyque were not very well off. It was Yves Coueslant’s father who financed their setting up with a limited budget. They liked this area of hard-working craftsmen. The place they chose for their boutique was formerly a bar and a lingerie store. It had the advantage of being in the boulevard and also the benefit of facing the Pontoise swimming pool which was quite busy with students. The die was cast!