Paris Tips: 9 Favorite Shopping Nooks

Three babies and a Queen holding court in Châtelet Photos by Theadora Brack

Elle Magazine scored at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market

By Theadora Brack

I’m always on the prowl for shopping nooks in Paris. For the love of precious time, I hate making the trek for just one boutique. I’m no diva, but I do like to shop-hop without a lot of hassle.

Here’s the scoop: In Paris, there are shopping zones where you can buy anything, as well as scattered districts where clusters of stores carry similar items. For your browsing pleasure, I’ve updated my Paris shopping guide. So grab a handy-dandy ballpoint pen! Got questions? Ask away!

1. Flea Markets

Don’t leave Paris without at least one trip to the Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves (14th arrondissement, Métro Porte de Vanves) or the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt (18th arrondissement, Métro: Porte de Clignancourt). Tip: The 95-bus line connects both “puces.” Click here for a handy 2012 listing of Paris Fleas, brocantes and vide-greniers.

2. Books

Also at the Clignancourt Flea, you’ll find La librairie de l’Avenue. It’s a large but still intimate bookshop, stocked with new and used art books, catalogues, vintage prints and antique magazines. After hunting at the Porte de Vanves Flea, hoof it to the book and prints flea market. Located at intersection of Rue Brancion and Rue Fizeau in the 15th arrondissement, the market is open Saturdays and Sundays.

Let’s dish at La Vaissellerie on rue de Rennes

3. Kitchenware

WWJCD? (What would Julia Child do?) That joke never gets old. For gastromical sakes, she’d hunt the aisles of kitchen-equipment specialist E. Dehillerin. “Thunderstruck!” was her description of the heated encounter she first had there. Located at 18 Rue Coquillière (Métro: Les Halles), the centuries-old shop’s shine has not dulled the least bit. Also, check out Julia’s photograph behind the cash register!

4. Tableware

When it comes to dinner parties, presentation is everything! So channel your inner Martha Stewart, and roll on over to shops along rue de Paradis (south of Métro Poissoniere, 10th arrondissement.

For the love of whimsy, then hotfoot it over to the row of funky tableware shops along rue de Rennes (Métro: Rennes, 6th arrondissement). For the love of whimsy, all three shops are worth a pop-by: La Vaissellerie (85), Culinarion (99), and Plastiques (103).

Tip: While at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market, keep your eyes peeled for classic crème brûlée ramekins, café au lait bowls, and escargot tongs, along with the dimpled metal pans you cook the snails in. Quiché and soufflé dishes also rise to the top here. Don’t let minor chips and scratches keep you at bay. I firmly believe that yesteryear’s wear-n-tear adds value. “Everything has a history,” as Julia would say!

Bargain Bin Bliss

5. Fabric

At the foot of Sacré Coeur in Montmartre (Métro Abbesses or Anvers) is where I hunt for fabric and notions. I’d kick off the quest on Rue d’Orsel (north of Metro Anvers in the 18th). Flaunting four floors of textiles, notions and baubles, both the Marché Saint Pierre on 2 rue Charles Nodier, and the Tissus Reine at 5 Place Saint-Pierre (with its fifty fetching miniature mannequins!) are definitely worth a visit.

Tip: Looking for African Megawax cloth? I’d start the spree at Megawax on the corner of rue Polonceau and rue des Poissonniers. Then head up Poissonniers a few blocks and walk up and down rue Doudeauville, where you’ll find still more jam-packed cloth shops. I’ve bought cloth patterned with prints of umbrellas, chickens and eggcups, along with water bottles, mobile phones and factories. Look for the €10 piles of cloth!

6. Bargain Bins

I often find my bargain bin bliss at the Sympa shops on rue Steinkerque and along Boulevard de Rochechouart (Métro Abbesses or Anvers). Located at the foot of Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, the stock is always cha-cha-changing. Look for Kookai, Jennyfer, and Naf-Naf, along with Pimkie, Printemps, and Sinéquanone. Also expect Best Mountain, Etam, and Undiz but at a fraction of their original cost. Don your elbow pads and eat a healthy Wheaties breakfast. Game on!

Tie one on at the Boutique Nodus at 40 rue de Rennes

7. Stock Shops

You’ll find stock shops (outlets) along rue d’Alésia.  Naf-Naf and Cacharel, along with Sonia Rykiel’s SR shop are all represented in the ’hood. But so far, after years of hunting, I’m sad to report that I’ve found not one keeper. Truth be bold, the discounted designer “seconds” are still out of my pocketbook range, while garb in the chains like Naf-Naf cost just slightly less than they do at the department stores. There. I’ve said it.

8. Chains, Chains, Chains

Looking to shake up your wardrobe with a little Zara, Etam or Naf-Naf? Here’s where I go-go for my Chains of Love: Boulevard Haussmann, rue de Rennes, and rue du Commerce, along with rue de Rivoli and Champs-Elysées. During the Big Sales in January and July, the Zara at 40 rue de Rennes in the Félix Potin building (an Art Nouveau masterpiece!) usually serves as one of “last stops” for the chain’s leftover clothing.

9. Funky designer shops and studios

Rocking a fairy tale vibe, the skinny rue d’Orsel (Métro Abbesses) is lined with a row of clothing shops and studios. Their kitschy, candied-colored vitrines always stop me in my tracks. Located in the textile district, the artists here play with the full spectrum of fabrics like there’s no tomorrow. Check out: Zélia’s Sur la Terre Comme au Ciel, Marie’s Le Boudoir de Marie, and Kitty’s Killy Grind.

Le Boudoir de Marie in Abbesses

10. Vintage Clothing

Throughout in Paris, you’ll find “friperies” (secondhand clothing shops) and “depôts-ventes” (consignment shops). I’d either hoof it to Abbesses (Métro Abbesses) or the Marais (Métro Saint-Paul). Both have deep pockets of vintage clothing shops. Le Caverne à Fripes at 25 rue Houdon in Abbesses or FREE’P’STAR at 61 rue de la Verrerie in the Marais are seek-a-boo-worthy!

Tip: Le Caverne’s inventory is eclectic, and may seem chaotic but don’t let looks fool you. The collection is quite organized. After a few minutes, you’ll recognize the system: shirts to the left and skirts on the right, while party dresses hang in the back and slacks are stacked in the middle.

If you’re looking for something specific, don’t hesitate to ask proprietor Patrick Lambert. Almost buried in amongst the clothing and camouflaged in vintage togs himself you’ll find him either chatting with neighbors or reading a novel as Broadway music plays on in the background. Here I recently scooped up yet another 1960s little black wiggle dress made in France. Cost? €10. Mad Men experience? Zipless.

Trekking to Paris?

For Heaven’s Sake, don’t forget to splurge a little because in the words of Oscar Wilde, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Happy Hunting!

Play on at Marie’s Le Boudoir de Marie in Abbesses

Jeanne Herring at Place Concorde, 1956

 

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86 thoughts on “Paris Tips: 9 Favorite Shopping Nooks

    • Thanks, Pam!! Imagine a room with fifty of the bunny babies. What an interior. What a hopping shrine!! Enjoy the weekend, T. (The shop is located in Chatêlet. I also love the sweet little Queen.)

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  1. What a brilliant way to display ties! Nice post, and makes me want to hop on a plane and go shopping …

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    • Merci, Sue!! I love rue de Rennes. The affordable shopping ’hood is definitely worth the trek. The clever Boutique Nodus is located at 40 rue de Rennes. It’s a fantastical way to display ties, eh? By the way, Saint-Sulpice, Agnès B, Parfumerie Annick Goutal, and the literary haven (and historic) Café de la Mairie are are just around the corner. Let’s not forget to mention Also, Pâtisserie Gérard Mulot and Ladurée are just a macaron hop, skip and jump away. Talk about a shop ’til you drop haven!! T.

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  2. Like a cry to battle!! The warrior arms herself with bottomless shopping bags . Dons battle dress and heads over the ramparts crying TO THE STORES TO THE STORE. Armed with Theadora’s secret battle map she is triumphant. Returns home victorious, exhausted, and deliriously happy. To the victor the spoils of shopping. Virginia

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      • Not exactly a nook Theadora, but my daughter and I loved to shop at Galeries Lafayette. First hitting the Longchamps counter, and then up a couple of floors to the lingerie department. It’s such a Mother-Daugher thing. Virginia

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      • Ah, the big G.L. It’s one of my favorite spots on the planet. I’ve been creating a little profile. I’ll take it “live” one day soon. I always kick-off my visit at the YSL counter under the dome. I weep each time. It’s the perfect Mother-Daughter experience!! T.

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  3. Lovely T! – SItting at my parents beach house in NZ with the rain pelting down dreaming of Paris as I read your wonderful post. Thank you! I am bookmarking this one!

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    • The NZ beach house sounds dreamy. I can almost hear the rain. Green with jealousy!! T. (By the way, I’m in the process of creating a little Shopping Nooks Part 2. I’ll take it “live” before your trip. Je Promets!!)

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  4. Bravo Theodora ! Viva La France !! Sooooooooooooooo much to love, starting with those bunny babies , Im betting they hold a special place in your heart as well and thats why they are at the top of the page !!! I am a textile fanatic, so very excited to have the tips on fab fabric finds ! And that leads me to ask, where do the images in black and white on the top of your page come from, it alwaym makes me smile, effile tower and bathing caps in bath tubs !!! Zoot Alhors !!! 🙂

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    • Ah, thank you for your thoughtful words!! If you love textiles, you’ll definitely have to visit the textiles districts in Montmartre and Barbès. Both neighborhoods are worth the trek. Also, Musée Halle Saint Pierre is located just around the corner on 2 Rue Ronsard. Often the museum presents textile-related exhibitions. Plus, the funky Chocolats and Macarons by Christophe Roussel
 shop is located down the street from the museum at 5 rue Tardieu. Heaven. I AM in heaven. Enjoy the weekend! T.

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  5. What a great post! I love the flea markets and brocante (stores?) but am always looking for other great places to shop at in Paris I’m saving this for my next trip.

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  6. Is the language barrier an issue in the flea markets? Foreign languages are one of those things I just don’t get – I wish I had language training early in school or in my household. I know some think that’s an excuse but I’ve tried – took Spanish classes in high school and college (won the ‘Spanish student of the year’ in my freshman year of college actually – I’m a really good crammer I guess), library CDs, LiveMocha.com. No, I’ve never tried Rosetta Stone but at such a steep investment it makes me financially nervous….but I digress to my original statement – is there a language barrier? I always avoid ‘local’ markets when traveling abroad if I think I could get into a situation where I look unintelligent. It’s not that I’m not capable – I can learn math, science, etc…. quickly but foreign language escapes me.

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    • Hello! Great question!! Most of the dealers at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market have there for decades. Most of them a super kind and patient, too. A great deal of them speak multiple languages. I recommend packing a sketchbook and carrying cash. I recommend organizing a small “till” the night before. Practicing some key phrases like “Combien ça?” (How much is that?) and “Accepteriez-vous une euro?” (Will you take one euro?) will carry you far. Also, keep your eyes peeled for hand-written signs like, “TOUT À €1 CETTE TABLE.” (Anything on the table for one euro.) Again, thanks for the question! Are you planning a trip to Paris? T.

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      • When we were in Germany last month, I asked husband if we could fit it in as usual, but alas not this time. He was doing a “BMW Driving Experience” at the Nurburgring. Next time, I swear. I miss “my” Eiffel and chocolate croissants for breakfast!

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  7. Another wonderful post with lovely pics! Finding these treasures is part of the fun of wandering around Paris

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    • Thanks, Vivienne!! I love window-shopping in Paris. So much for the little eye to spy, I fall in love with the city each time I venture outdoors. I never leave the house without the camera. Say, do you have a favorite shopping nook in Paris? T.

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      • I know just what you mean about falling in love with the city each time you venture out.
        I have to admit I don’t do a lot of shopping, but I do like browsing in the passageways and galeries—like Gallery Vivienne

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      • I love the Galerie Vivienne! It’s such a beauty. Great name choice, eh? I’ve been creating a post about the arcades in Paris. So stay tuned!! T. (By the way, I have a funny shot of “Galerie Vivienne” sign. Drop me a line if you’d like a copy.)

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      • Hi Theadora,
        I’d love a copy of that, thanks.
        Do you want to send it to my email address:
        vivienne.mackie@gmail.com
        I sure will be looking out for your post about the galleries.

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  8. After reading your post, I’m ready to u-turn on my yoga class, hop a plane and jump over the pond. Good grief, T! What a massive resource you’ve provided! Thank you!!!

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  9. Thanks for another great tour, T. Love your photographs, and now desperately want to go back to Paris (instead going to a science centre in Herstmonceaux, UK).

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    • Thanks, Patti!! Do you have a favorite shopping district? Did you take any street photography while you were there? Theadora (I loved your recent “Madison Avenue Men” series. So dapper!!)

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      • Theodora, I am a happy moocher/street photographer anywhere and everywhere I go as long as I am on my own . . . my husband however prefers to stride with purpose, not stopping to linger longer than he has to which is what happened the last time we went to Paris although to be fair we did punctuate the day with regular stops for glasses of champagne! I remember passing through a fabulous flea market in the Marais!

        Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to linger here!

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      • Yes!! The Marais is one of my favorite spots to shop. It has a nice mix of chains, boutiques, and vintage shops. Shopping + Champagne = Bliss!! T.

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  10. This is a great list and those colourful bowls really appeal to me. Where else would you recommend for great plates and bowls etc? I’m starting to put together my kitchen stuff but I’m interested in eclectic finds. I don’t just want to buy anything. Any ideas?

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      • Hi Kyla!

        I’ve created a special day tour for your kitchenware/cookware quest. All four hunting grounds are located along the “95” bus line. Convenient, eh?

        Stop 1: I recommend kicking off your day at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market. Arrive early. Dealers start to pack up their wares around noon. Here you’ll find great deals scattered throughout the market. After you’ve shopped, take the “95” bus to the rue de Rennes shopping district. You’ll find the “95” bus stop next to the Porte de Vanves Métro stop and patisserie. Here there’s also a bar with a WC.

        Stop 2: Along rue de Rennes, you’ll find practical, funky and whimsical. Here are my favorite shops: La Vaissellerie (85 rue de Rennes), Culinarion (99 rue de Rennes), and Plastiques (103 rue de Rennes). There’s an affordable soda shop next to the Rennes Métro stop.

        Stop 3: After your rue de Rennes shopping spree, hop back on the “95” bus, and take it to the shop at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Designed by Bruno Moinard, here you’ll find modern and funky table linens, candle holders, vases, dinnerware, stemware, flatware, and things to wear. I recently scored a set of 100% cotton Napkins by Les Arts Decoratifs sets for €4. The bookshop is also fabulous.

        Stop 4: And final stop! If you’re up to it, take the “95’ bus to boulevard Haussmann. Both Printemps and Galeries Lafayette (Lafayette Maison) have home interior departments. In between the Lafayette Maison shop and the Opéra, there’s a home décor shop. Name changes frequently, so keep your eyes peeled for its funky vitrine.

        Happy Hunting, Kyla! I look forward to your reports from the field. And feel free to ask questions.

        Theadora

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      • Kyla, I enjoyed the mission!

        Here’s one more tip: After shopping along Haussmann, take either the “95” bus or the Métro (Saint-Lazare) to Abbesses in the 18th arrondissement. The shops stay open until 7 PM to 8 PM. Have dinner, and then stroll on over to Sacré Coeur. The city looks amazing from this spot.

        Bon Voyage!!
        T.

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    • Merci!! You can’t go wrong with orange, pink and yellow! Paris vitrines always catch my eye. There’s always so much to see. The camera is always in my bag. Do you have a favorite shopping district in Paris? Or shop? T.

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  11. Hi Theadora,
    Seems fun, but I have also just found out the pleasure with Flea markets. Had never done such thing before and now I’m hocked.

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  12. Have you ever thought about leading a shopping tour? I think going shopping with you as a guide would be a wonderful eye-opener. Meanwhile, thanks for opening my eyes vicariously to the wonders to behold, via your delicious photos and words!

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  13. Wonderful things! Every time I read your blog, I just want to grab my suitcase (and my credit card) and jump on the next plane to Paris:)

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    • Thank you!! Do you have a favorite shopping area or shop in Paris? T. (By the way, there’s a very large Hello Kitty department on Galeries Lafayette’s 5th floor. Hello Kitty. Goodbye heart!)

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      • No, we don’t do anything terribly methodically when we’re in Paris – it’s a bit of a hit and miss with us. We’ll certainly remember these and try to get to Galeries Lafayette soon!

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  14. I have recently been to the fabric shops at the foot of Sacré Coeur in Montmartre and so wanted to shop there because there was such a wonderful selection for a fabric hunter like myself. But i only browsed for a while and did not buy because of weight restrictions when traveling. Next time I am in Paris I will definitely plan to hit these amazing cloth houses. Love your blog and how you peel away the layers of Paris.

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    • Thank you!! So you are a fellow “tissue” hunter? Yes, fabric heavy. If I’m traveling, I usually use it to wrap my flea market finds. Well, that’s how I justify making multiple purchases! Did you make it to nearby Barbès. I’d add it to your list. The African patterns are exquisite and affordable. Also, Porte de Vanves Flea Market has fabric and notion stalls. Oh, la la ! T. (Have you created a “How to organize a suitcase” post yet?!)

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    • No, I haven’t created a how to organize a suitcase post yet but probably will do so in the future. However, I recently did write one titled “Preparing to Pack for a Trip” which is just as important as the actual packing process. Take Care!

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      • I dig the “Preparing to Pack for a Trip” title. I’ll check it out over the weekend!! T. (I despise packing, so I usually start to pack two weeks before a trip.)

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    • Thank you, Rob!! And I like every single one of your swell words. (Wink) Say, where do you window shop? Any leads? T. (I loved your nod to the Olympic Games. Oh, I am feeling the void. I’m thinking about running one more Olympic-related post over the weekend. Yes, I’m still hooked. Boo. Hoo.)

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      • I’m still Olympics hooked too! So hooked! As for window-shopping, the Games have had me house-bound so there hasn’t been too much walking the streets of London. I’m going to Edinburgh this weekend: will keep ya posted!
        P.S. I love the way the French press talk about the JO, such an elegant acronym. Shame OG either looks like Tarzan talk, sounds like someone’s about to tell you something bad or is just an M-less typo…

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      • I know! I know!! This is why I’m here busy creating one more post-Olympic post. I’ll take it “live” tonight. Is it possible to write one too many about the Games? Ah, I don’t think so. I’m now “jonesing” for a pair of Nike running shoes in neon, of course. Enjoy Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to your report! T. (Acronyms! I’ve never been a fan. Thanks for the giggle!)

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    • Ah, thanks for your swell words!! Theadora (I’m still digging your book reviews. Where do you find your reads? Do you have a favorite bookshop on this planet?)

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  15. Pingback: S.WILLIAMS ART GALLERY NOMINATED ME FOR…”ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD” | robertoalborghetti

  16. What I realllly like about you is you put art straight smack back into the centre of shopping – and sensuality too, lots of it, so reading a post here is like reaching for a large luscious strawberry sorbet. IT IS! – with all the tastes and flavours in the colours, the ideas and the words. Merci encore mon amie!

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