Visiting Paris is a right of passage to any designer. Known throughout history as a haven for artists, creatives, poets, writers, leaders, revolutionaries - it a has a magnetic pull. Like a tiny arrow on a compass, one feels that no matter where they are in the world, they are always and eventually drawn to this beautiful city of light.
Having visited Paris several times, we are familiar with the iconic stores that any good designer knows are a must-visit: Merci, Bon Marche, Colette. However, in this post, we thought we would share a few places that might not be so familiar to those of you who love Paris as much as we do.
Discover | Paris Flea Market, Saint Ouen, 18th arrond.
The Marché aux Puces is the world’s largest (and some say oldest) flea market – 15 markets, 3,000 shops, and everything for sale, from vintage clothes to refined 1600’s furniture and religious art of 800 years ago. What started as a rag-and-bone shantytown outside the city in the 1860's, has been organized into a series of enclosed villages, some entirely covered and others with open-air streets and covered boutiques for the antique dealers. South of the market sprawls the canvas-covered part where cheaply made clothes, fake Nikes, and pushy vendors set up shop with modern-day trinkets. Brave the southern half of the market and make your way to the inner areas of the north. Of the 15 markets, our favorites are Vernaison and Serpette. These two have charming shopfronts and maze-like alleyways that give the impression that behind every turn is a hidden treasure.
Classic cafés line the sidewalks of Paris. Two-seater tables face the street where the locals sip on drinks and watch the crowds stroll by. Chic, food-forward restaurants with creative chefs and sleek decor are dotted throughout the city. Josselin is unlike either of these.
A rustic, crowded, loud, and boisterous restaurant with a line out the door most nights, Josselin is a fantastic crêperie in the middle of Paris. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a tourist trap - it is a restaurant full of locals who are looking for a good, down-to-earth, simple, and delicious meal. The menu is limited and coincidently gluten-free, they only serve sweet or savory buckwheat crêpes and a few kinds of cider. The simplicity of the dishes is deceiving; they are incredibly rich, buttery, and filling. Cider is served in handmade local pitchers, that we wanted to source and bring home, and the crepes are served in a mishmash of old plates and silverware, adding to the charm. Packed into the room, elbow to elbow with other patrons, the people-watching is ideal. The dance between the tiny kitchen and front-of-house staff is quite entertaining as well.
Stroll | Luxembourg Gardens to Rue des Saints Peres to the Seine | 6th and 7th arrond.
The vast size of Paris can feel overwhelming to some, so much so that it seems almost mandatory to use the Metro to explore the city. However, if one can take a bit of extra time, it is quite enjoyable to walk.
One of our favorite walks takes us from the Luxembourg Gardens to the heart of Paris at the point of the Île de la Cité. Considered by many to be a favorite park for Parisians to relax, the Luxembourg Gardens and Palais were built by the mother of Louis XIII, Marie d'Medici. (Yes, she was from that line of Medici.) Designed in an Italian Renaissance style and covering 23 hectares, it is a lovely park to grab a book and relax. From there you wander up to the street that divides the 6th and 7th Arrondissements, Rue des Saints Peres, a street that is lined with high-fashion and boutique shops nicer than those you find on Saint Germain du Pres. These shops have no desire to show off or garner the attention of tourists. Rue des Saints Peres is a quiet one-way street with intimate boutiques specializing in tasteful high-end fashion, quiet sophistication, rare antiques, and beautifully tailored interiors. People come here with a purpose or desire specifically to visit these shops. Among many of our favorites are Debauve & Gallais (the most beautiful chocolatier), Sonia Rykiel, Molcini & C Dada, and Acne Studios. Half-a-mile long from beginning to end, it starts just beyond Bon Marché and ends at the Seine, directly across from the Louvre.