The Idealist

Parisian Design Chic

Merci courtyard

In our last issue, we covered shopping the French Country look. Today we’re focusing on dressing your home with well-chosen pieces from Paris to add an authentic feel to your living room or bedroom.

Time for a Croque, monsieur?

Interiors shopping in Paris is a wonderful experience, with an intimate neighbourhood feel that’s hard to find on the high street in the UK. Shopping in the Winter has a particular charm, as it gives you a wonderful excuse for a croque monsieur and a strong coffee in any of the typical zincs that line the streets before you head out to the flea markets and the boutiques in any of the many distinctive areas of Paris with accessory and interiors shops. We focused our efforts in and around the Marais and the Bastille, since both are a stone’s throw from the renowned flea market between Oberkampf and Bastille. We have to admit that at The Idealist, we are not the greatest fans of flea market shopping, since it always feels like someone else has beaten you to a bargain as you push through the crush of other eager shoppers and tourists. In fact, we’d venture to say that brocante and other antiquités are far better found beyond the streets of Paris in la France profonde, where prices are keener and stallholders are friendlier. But, for interiors shopping, Paris is hard to beat, with beautiful and distinctive pieces that just ooze French charm, like a baked camembert fresh out of the oven.

So, with local architect Pascal as our guide, we ventured out into the streets of Paris looking only for the fun, the different and the distinctive.

Merci, Merci

Merci Interior
Merci

Merci is a truly wonderful homewares and accessories store on the edge of the 4th arrondissement. Across three floors and including a charming coffee shop and more formal kitchen restaurant, you can get everything here from beautiful vintage furniture through to designer men’s and women’s clothing, accessories and homewares. If you only have time for one design store in between your trips to cafes, galleries, and other sights — make it Merci.

Merci Bedlinen
Merci Bedlinen

It is one of those places where every object feels curated, from the ‘casually creased’ but luxurious bedlinen, to the ‘display’ skincare products (you know, the kind of stuff that makes your bathroom look like a Victorian chemist’s) to the glassware, sofas and stationery. We love the vintage Fiat 500 in the courtyard! Merci will ship to the UK too for not much more than they charge to ship within France. Merci, Merci!

Fleux’

Lighting at Fleux'
Lighting at Fleux’

Across three stores on Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Fleux has been a stand out destination in the Marais since they opened a little over 10 years ago. A little more playful and youthful than Merci, they have a rich mix of tableware, lighting, furniture, design, and decoration. It’s hard to know where to start in Fleux’ and to understand what is found in one store or across the street, but suffice to say they carry over 50 different designers and brands including Orla Keily, Ferm living, Normann Copenhagen, NUD, Lexon, and Muuto.

Fleux accessories
Fleux accessories

The furniture style is predominantly cool, scandi, minimalist, while the accessories are more fun and colourful. If the novelty lighting is to be believed, it’s all about pineapples this season.

Les Mille Feuilles

Les mille feuilles
Les mille feuilles

The look of Les Mille Feuilles is more cultured world traveller than modern Parisian and is much more luxurious than most of the other stores we found. Gather together all the ornaments, lighting, statuary, mirrors and accessories from this place and team them with a few well-thumbed copies of National Geographic (of course in their distinctive mustard yellow livery) and you can transform your living room from gloomy old England to a luxurious Rome, Tokyo, or a Provencal farmhouse. Make sure you buy some scented candles to go with the feel you’re after.

Yvon Lambert

Photography gallery
Photography gallery

This is more of a contemporary art gallery than design shop, but these guys have some really distinctive and limited edition pieces from the likes of Cy Twombly, Joseph Beuys, David Shrigley and Yayoi Kusama (we loved the plates). The look here is edgy rather than warm, so their prints would sit well in a concrete-floored loft conversion by the canal, rather than a parquet-floored barn conversion by the village green, but they have some cool stuff.

À Demain

A Demain
A Demain

À Demain is a vintage boutique specialising in authentic vintage pieces from the 1950s through to the 1980s including furniture (think Knoll, Herman Miller, Verner Panton, Eames), lighting, posters, dishes, decorative pieces, and magazines. They ship worldwide and have a wide selection of their things online too. If you ever wanted to recreate the feel of a Jean-Luc Godard movie in your own home, or indeed your style is more cinéma du look that Nouvelle Vague, then you’ve come to the right place. Basically, we loved the stuff in here and wanted to move in and spend our days selling the New York Herald Tribune from the street!

Au Petit Bonheur la Chance

This tiny shop is a real hidden treasure. Here’s where you can find those beautiful old school teaching posters and vintage maps that sometimes you see in upscale cafes and Francophile houses (although we got our vintage school map in Crouch End, but that’s for another day). The place is filled with vintage kitchenware, notepads, envelopes, toys and other ephemera. OK, it’s not cheap, but this is a get the look boutique France in spades.

Un p’tit peu plus loin…

Beyond the Bastille and Marais districts, there’s a host of other stores that are worth a visit which we will explore more in our next Paris piece. These include Astier de Villatte, near the Louvre, and more elegant and delicate than the stores we’ve covered today; Deyrolle (a case full of butterflies, anyone?), Le Bon Marche, and Spree. And then there are all the flea markets for which Paris is renowned. But, there’s a box of macarons with my name on it at Pierre Herme http://www.pierreherme.com/, so those will have to keep for another day too.

Addresses and Practical Information

À demain, 97 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, France, +33 9 81 97 70 06, www.design-only.com/

Au Petit Bonheur la Chance,13 Rue Saint-Paul, 75004 Paris, France, +33 1 42 74 36 38, aupetitbonheurlachance.fr

Fleux  39 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris, +33 1 42 78 27 20, en.fleux.com

Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris, + 33 (0)1 42 77 00 33, merci-merci.com

Les Mille Feuilles, 2 Rue Rambuteau, 75003 Paris, +33 1 42 78 32 93, www.les-mille-feuilles.com/

Yvon Lambert Gallery, 108 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France, +33 1 42 71 89 05, www.yvon-lambert.com/

Travel to Paris from London starts at only £29 each way with Eurostar and takes you close to the heart of Paris via the Gare du Nord. At The Idealist, we love Short Breaks, as you can often find hotel and rail deals for cheaper than the train alone and their selection of hotels ranges from the quirky to the opulent. They even have a hotel with actual views of the Eiffel tower from the windows, just like in the movies.

  • Stephen hails from the north of England but has spent more of his life in Oxford, Cambridge, Boston and London than anywhere else. He lives in an architect-designed modern house in North London which was featured in themodernhouse.com which he is slowly filling with midcentury finds to complement the bare bricks and skylights. Stephen wishes he could afford all the things we feature on The Idealist.

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