The French capital is a pastel box of colourful and inspiring shops, ranging from century-old family-run haberdashery to shiny new homewares store. The problem can be: where to start? In this edited extract from Paris Style Guide by Elodie Rambaud (Murdoch Books, $39.99), Paris stylist and fashion and design insider Rambaud reveals 20 beautiful shops that are the epitome of French chic.
Whether you are a Parisian native or fresh off the plane after a 15-hour flight, you're probably keen to explore the streets and alleyways of Paris. It was a similar sense of eagerness and curiosity that led me to write this book. Hold on to that enthusiasm, it will lead you to discover some amazing things.
Fabulous fabrics made from natural fibres, film for your Polaroid camera, Chanel embroideries, a bell jar for a future cabinet of curiosities, a stone sink, an electrical cord covered in woven fabric and black-tinted roses. You can cycle along the riverbank on your vintage bike and have your business cards engraved at a printing house like it's 1912. Extraordinary places and experiences await you.
Architect and interior designer Sarah Lavoine sets a high benchmark in the field of decoration. At the helm of two stores, she adapts her modern, clean and simple style to various high-end projects across Paris and is creative director of the new CFOC concept store. The Sarah Lavoine style is grounded in an intelligent mastery of colour and a taste for simple, warm and contemporary shapes.
9 rue Saint-roch; +331 42 96 34 35; metro Tuileries; and 28 rue du Bac; + 331 42 86 00 35; metro rue du Bac; sarahlavoine.com.
In Rue du Roi de Sicile, a few steps from Rue des Rosiers, Portobello offers a wide range of fabrics, including beautiful washed linens in rich shades, suitable for the bedroom as well as the living room. Portobello produces and distributes sofas and shelving by designer Rebecca Felcey. You'll also find the innovative creations of the Petite Friture designers there.
32 Rue du Roi de Sicile; +331 42 72 27 74; metro Saint-Paul; portobello-decoration.fr.
Home Autour du Monde
Set up in the early 1980s by Serge Bensimon – a keen traveller and a key figure in the Paris decorating and lifestyle scene – the Home Autour du Monde store sells the now-famous Bensimon tennis shoes alongside furniture and design objects over two floors. There's lots of colour and a well-judged contemporary selection, including Lampe Gras lamps, decorative objects, textiles and home fragrances, which all form part of the identity of the brand. After more than 30 years, Bensimon is more than a fashion brand, it's a lifestyle, with stores in many locations.
Serge Bensimon was also the man behind Artazart, the unmissable Parisian bookstore specialising in graphic design and photography, and promoting young talent. In 2009, gallery S. Bensimon in Rue de Turenne was born, showcasing designers, artists and artisans who in turn present their vision of the world through objects and furniture.
12 Rue des Francs Bourgeois; +331 42 77 16 18; metro Saint-Paul; bensimon.com.
At the bottom of the Montmartre hill around the Halle Saint-Pierre, Rue Charles Nodier, Rue d'Orsel, Rue Ronsard and Rue Livingstone, is the largest fabric market in the capital. The two biggest stores are Tissus Reine and Dreyfus. They deal in mass-produced fabrics for clothing and furnishings. The selection is vast and inexpensive and you can also find all the accessories you need for sewing and embroidery. Smaller stores orbit around these two main ones – remnant sellers, specialists in leather, Liberty prints or tulle. Visit Sacres Coupons, where you can find Bonpoint and Claudie Pierlot fabrics at attractive prices.
Tissus Reine: 3-5 Place Saint-Pierre; +331 46 06 02 31; tissus-reine.com.
Dreyfus: 2 Rue Charles Nodier ; +331 46 06 92 25.
Sacres Coupons: 4 bis Rue d'Orsel; +331 42 64 69 96; metro Anvers; marchesaintpierre.com.
NATURE AND BOTANICALS
Close to the Eglise Saint-Sulpice, Odorantes is a chic floral boutique where fragrance rules. It's well known to the fashion world, working with some of the finest Parisian couture houses. The House of Chanel, for example, orders black roses here, dyed using a special absorption method.
9 Rue Madame; +331 42 84 03 00; metro Saint-Sulpice; odorantes-paris.com.
Odeur de Saintete
I first saw these pretty bottles, with their divine, sometimes dark and always lyrical names, at Astier de Villatte. Chantal Sanier is the alchemist behind this beautiful creation. In her skilled hands, perfume takes on a special dimension, rich and full of character. The scent emerges and, like a living organism, evolves on the individual wearer. The descriptions on the bottles are elegant and poetic. These "supernatural perfumes", as Chantal likes to call them, have medieval connotations and are blended without preservatives. You will discover nine elixirs at Astier de Villatte and Merci. You can also contact Chantal Sanier direct; if you're lucky, she may let you into her magnificent studio at Quai du Louvre.
By appointment only. 22 Quai du Louvre; +331 42 21 38 33; metro pont neuf; odeurdesaintete.com.
Cire Trudon has played a part in the history of the French monarchy since 1643, first as a supplier of wax to Versailles, then as a candlemaker for Napoleon. The house of Trudon has managed to survive all those years and remains a benchmark for scented candles around the world. At Cire Trudon you'll find their iconic scented candles, pillar candles with cameos and a huge variety of candle colours. Cire Trudon has also revived the "stink bomb" – tiny throw-down vials of scent, which fortunately release an exquisite perfume.
78 Rue de Seine; metro Odeon; ciretrudon.com.
Galerie Et Caetera
This exquisite store can be found on Rue du Poitou in the Marais. Owner Franck Delmarcelle is from Belgium, his particular style honed over the years. He is a much admired decorator and antiques dealer, followed for his individual flair and the unique objects he collects.
40 Rue de Poitou; +336 66 92 75 77; metro Saint-Sebastien–Froissart; franckdelmarcelle.com.
Laurence Peyrelade is a fan of the 10th arrondissement. The store where she set up her business had been used as a storeroom for an electrician and the metal roller door had not been opened since 1941! Dusted off and freshened up, the shop now sells furniture dating from 1930 to 1960. Laurence clearly has a soft spot for fairground pieces and chairs. The fairground items are quite amazing: merry-go-round horses, a phenomenal rooster, a 2.5-metre carousel swallow and a 4.5-metre painted canvas advertising a Siamese twins exhibit in the United States in the early 1800s. Chairs are Laurence's second passion: they are all originals, with names such as Flambo, Nicolle, Tolix and Bienaise. She's had to start up a second store – called, predictably, Chairs – at the other end of the street, but it's open only by appointment.
12 Rue Martel; +331 48 24 53 43; metro chateau d'eau; brocmartel.com.
The Elbe bookstore specialises in travel posters and prints. Poster art developed in France from 1880, then took off with the beginning of colonisation and the craze for travel and the exotic. In 1930, it took 11 days to reach Saigon from Paris by plane, with many stops along the way, and 12 days to travel from London to Aswan on the Orient Express. Posters were used to inspire travel to exotic places, but also to promote France abroad. Toulouse-Lautrec, Villemot, Eugene Oge and Savignac are just some of the famous names who employed their skills for poster art. The bookstore sells linen-backed posters, buys posters and researches specific topics on request. It ships internationally.
213 Boulevard Saint-Germain; +331 45 48 77 97; metro rue du bac; elbe-paris.fr.
Un Singe en Hiver
Garden furniture and decorative objects in a beautiful house built in 1909.
Marche Paul Bert; 6 Rue Paul Bert; +336 75 55 44 57; unsingenhiver.com.
The Baan brand was created by Clementine Orillac, a great traveller and tireless treasure hunter. She brings back old and new objects and accessories from her various travels to south-east Asia and Morocco, where she works in collaboration with local artisans. Utilising traditional techniques, she has developed a line of baskets and painted stools.
At Baan, you'll find a broad range of basketwork, jewellery (like the Padnaung bracelets), traditional Thai brass woks and lots of kitchenware. Some prestigious establishments, such as the Conran Shop, buy stock from here. The showroom is on the periphery of Paris and can be visited by appointment. Baan has an online shop and delivers both within France and overseas.
13 Rue la Revolution, Ivry-sur-Seine; +336 23 46 09 61; RER Ivry-sur-Seine; baan-baan.com.
It is impossible not to mention Merci when talking about shops in Paris. But it's also a challenge to choose just one section of this book to put it in. This Parisian concept store covers every aspect of lifestyle – bedroom, living room, cosmetics, stationery, lighting, fashion and, of course, the kitchen and dining room. Merci offers a particularly wide and interesting range. In the basement you'll find kitchenware, much of it from abroad – Scandinavia, Japan – and exclusive to Merci. The selection is modern, attractive and above all practical. You'll find the Malle W. Trousseau collection here. On the first floor is glassware, crockery and cutlery. The pieces are displayed in perfect arrangements. I go there especially for cutlery from the Portuguese brand Cutipol, linen serviettes and blown glassware from Soufflerie. Products from Merci are now available online.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais; +331 42 77 00 33; metro Filles du Calvaire; merci-merci.com.
Famous among food lovers all over the world for its window display, E. Dehillerin is a Parisian institution. The store reflects the old Paris. On the unvarnished wooden shelves are implements that have all but disappeared with the evolution of cooking. Attelets, for example, a sort of metal skewer topped with an ornamental hare, rooster or pig, once used for fancy dishes like canard a l'orange. There are no electrical gadgets here, it is a temple to traditional cuisine – copper tarte tatin moulds, charlotte moulds, knives, roasting trays and giant saucepans. The place is usually packed, so be patient. And it closes at 6pm sharp.
18-20 Rue Coquilliere; +331 42 36 53 13; metro Etienne Marcel or les Halles; e-dehillerin.fr.
These are two unmissable stores in Paris for lovers of ribbons, threads, buttons and general haberdashery. The two shops are opposite each other in Rue Monsigny and their decor has not changed since they opened in 1890. You'll find magnificent old ribbons, fabrics, buttons and reels of thread in incredible colours. Everything is organised in old numbered wooden boxes, stacked from floor to ceiling. You'll want to buy it all.
3 & 4 Rue de Choiseul; +331 42 96 98 30; metro Bourse.
La Drogeurie de Paris
Located in the Les Halles neighbourhood next to the Eglise Saint-Eustache, this haberdashery makes the most of its previous incarnation as a butcher's shop. You squeeze up against the old wooden counters to see the fasteners, chains, clasps and cords used for making jewellery. There are myriad beads and a wide selection of ribbons, cotton threads, skeins of wool and alpaca. Be warned: there can sometimes be a long wait as the store attracts lots of people.
9 & 11 Rue du Jour; +331 45 08 93 27; metro Les Halles; laderogeurie.com.
Yves Andrieux & Vincent Jalbert
Yves Andrieux and Vincent Jalbert rework old fabrics, mainly army canvas rucksacks, bags, parachutes and tents. Dyes are skilfully added or removed, the colours emerging in shades of grey, khaki, black and ecru. These raw materials are then given new life in their shop and workshop on Rue Charlot, in the Marais, as handbags, jackets and cushions. They have many regulars among their clientele, including Japanese clients who adore the quality of the materials.
55 Rue Charlot; +331 42 71 19 54; metro Filles du Calvaire; vincentjalbert.com.
The pieces at Isaac Reina are simple, everyday objects – A4 document holders with elastic closures, toiletry bags, spectacles cases. They are made from beautiful leather, hand crafted and high quality. Isaac Reina worked for eight years as an assistant to Veronique Nichanian, the creative director of the menswear collections at Hermes, and launched his first collection in 2006.
38 Rue de Sevigne; +331 42 78 81 95; metro Saint-Paul; isaacreina.com.
This has been the leading store for interior decorating for children since 2004. Its floor space is dedicated to showcasing objects, furniture and designs. The concept of Serendipity is to create contemporary environments using new and vintage objects. To do this, the brand surrounds itself with young talents who sell their designs exclusively through Serendipity. Some products have become highly covetable, such as the skateboard shelves of Magali Arbib of Lecon de Choses or the woven lamps from Petits bohemes.
81–83 Rue du Cherche-Midi; +331 40 46 01 15; metro vaneau; serendipity.fr.
Another must-see store in Paris is Bonton. It was created by the Cohen family, the ingenious retail brand developers behind children's fashion store Bonpoint, among others. Bonton takes the same approach as Bonpoint: a spacious and elegant setting, quality selection and expertly arranged displays. With its three Paris stores, Bonton follows children from birth to early adolescence and sells clothing, objects and decorative accessories. You'll find a range of pretty coloured suitcases from Ouma productions. Highlights of the Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire store include a hairdresser, an area for birthday party accessories and a photo booth.
5 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire ; +331 42 72 34 69; 82 rue de Grenelle; +331 44 39 09 20; 122 rue du Bac; +331 42 22 77 69; metro Filles du Calvaire; bonton.fr.
See murdochbooks.com.au; elodierambaud.com.