It is a known fact that Marais is a great place for shopping, but going there and hoping that you will simply run into all the best shops is simply naive, because some of them can easily be walked by without noticing. This route contains all the hot spots that cannot be missed while shopping in Marais.
Paris is seeing a new generation of boutique owners whose motto is – fashion is life. Broken Arm is one the pioneers of this new wave, website De Jeunes Gens Modernes in flesh – this multibrand temple of fashion is abundant with creations by young designers. Its trendy café (good coffee, breakfasts and lunches) as well as collaborations with the hottest Paris artists make this store the brightest spot on the shopping map of the world's fashion capital.
It's worth going to 0fr, a small and unusual bookstore/gallery, for fresh fashion magazines, books that you will probably buy more than you can carry, and for making great new friends. The owners are a wonderful couple with impeccable taste. A quick glance at the fronts of books and magazines will convince you that nothing appears by chance here and that you are offered only the best. They also sell accessories such as glasses in wooden frames, bags, neckties and cups, all carefully selected. More than that, there are small exhibitions on the walls of the store that change almost every week, so if you're looking for a nice photo for your house, don't forget to drop by. Such events gather probably the nicest and funniest people in town.
Square Du Temple
Le Marais' largest park is actually a cozy square and a green oasis, which is a rarity in this neighborhood. Local moms with kids come here to play, hipsters to sunbathe, shoppers to have a rest and folks from nearby offices to eat their lunch. You will also spot local boys playing table tennis and old guys feeding ducks and strolling by a small pond. Sounds idyllic and in fact is. After a walk in Marais the only thing you want is to chill on the grass and get some sun, watching relaxed Parisians of all ages and backgrounds.
Everyone likes stationery, while these ones simply cannot be missed, because this brand became a hit in Japan for a reason. Neat notebooks and notepads with colorful covers in geometric patters, perfect and simplistic sets of envelopes that urge you to sign them off and send a postcard, as well as unusual calendars make this place a stationery heaven.
When bohemian Parisians have kids, nephews or grandchildren Bonton becomes their number one destination. The three-floor concept store is not far from Merci and is its copy but for kids. It has everything – furniture, family barber shop, toys, a floor of clothes and everything for a party. High ceilings, bold colors and perfect details – an ideal family store in the outskirts of Marais.
Merci is one of the loveliest concept stores in Paris. An enormous well-lit space hidden on Boulevard Beaumarchais seems to be perfect. It regularly showcases installations by the best stylists and designers and has everything – from clothes and accessories to house utilities, furniture, bedding, cosmetics and stationary. All profits go to charity, by the way. The place also has plenty dining options – a cozy Used Book Cafe to the right of the entrance is perfect for breakfast and brunch with a book – they have a library of thousands here. For a light lunch go to Cinema Cafe – they serve several salads and soup of the day. La Cantine on the ground floor has a patio view and healthy options – fresh fruits, smoothies, seasonal products only and fantastic desserts. So, if you have little time and need a party dress, a gift for your friend, something for your home and are hungry – Merci has it all.
Good doesn't necessarily mean big, and this tiny boutique in Upper Marais proves it. They sell things by six women punk/hipster brands, including young Korean designers Paul & Alice and Rozee, Swedish minimalists Filippa K and British brands KTZ and Marjan Pejoski. The choice isn't huge, but leaving without a purchase is simply not an option: a delicate but firm coat, a dress, unusual flat shoes, or a cute adornment – something will catch your eye, and the pricetags are surprisingly low for Paris.
A Spanish brand Nice Things has recently opened a boutique on one of the shopping streets of Marais, Rue Vieille du Temple. Relaxed and friendly atmosphere, a "memory wall" with plates and little things found by the Paloma, the founder of the brand, boxes, dolls, family photos, and of course, rails with the Nice Things - sweet and pleasant women's clothes. Come here for a light summer dress, a bright raincoat, a cute T-shirt or an accessory. Mothers of little girls can't miss the place – the kids collection is so good you will want to buy it all up.
Yukiko, the owner, created a heaven on Earth for vintage lovers. Celebrities and sharp dressers come here looking for a silk Hermes handkerchief, a Dior bag, a Gucci wallet, and, of course, Chanel purses and accessories. Yukiko also started her own line of fur clothes and silk shirts that are a perfect match to her vintage treasures (it is still a secret where she manages to find them). Mirrors, candles and lamps make the space look like a girl's bedroom, cute and elegant. You can't avoid a feeling that Grace Kelly is about to come is. In addition, Yukiko recently launched an e-shop (http://www.vintage-paris.com/) where you can select something before you go to an actual shop.
Exhausted after Marais shopping go to this peaceful garden at the Swedish Institute where you can have coffee and some fresh pastry far from omnipresent tourists. Local love this place – in spring and summer they arrange Lunch Beat disco – one hour in the middle of the day. Get tickets in advance as the main rule is - everybody dances. This is quite an experience to dine and dance in the eclectic crowd of Paris hipsters.
The Institute arranges interesting exhibitions and concerts so remember this place.
This store looks more like an interactive installation by an artist and architect Arne Quinze. Astonishing architecture where reality plays with illusion, hidden wardrobes, varnished wooden panels, 147 screens fitted everywhere, moving walls and scores of old flat shoes pretending to be baguettes – the latest boutique by Armand and Martine Hadida is famous for its unique interior and the best selection of modern fashion and designer ideas. Here you will find clothes by Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Junya Watanabe, furniture by Nobody and Co, or crazy wallpaper by Fornasetti. Even if you're not planning to buy something, come in just out of sheer curiosity.
L'Eclair de Génie
Macaroons and cupcakes came out of fashion several years ago, and now eclairs are the main dessert here. Although they are sold on every corner, L'Eclair de Génie in Marais is the only place worth spending time to get to in order to buy them. This concept store, dedicated solely to eclairs and chocolate truffles, was opened by Christophe Adam, former creative director at Fauchon, who once decided that eclairs are his favourite dessert. Besides, they look brilliant (feel free to take a photo for your Instargam) and taste wonderful thanks to a contrast between crunchy dough and tender creme, and because of a combination of unconventonal flavours – pistachios and orange, lemon, chocolate with mango and banana, or roses with marshmellows, for instance. You simply can't leave without buying a box with a dosen of those colorful beauties.
Sooner or later everyone comes to COS shopping for the basics. The biggest shop of the chain in Paris is located on a Jewish street of Marais and has women's, men's and childred's clothes departments. It offers an ideal compromise between the merchandize of big brands that many find too expensive and things by mass market brands that don't last too much. Thanks to the Scandinavian-style design of COS clothes, minimalists can buy a full set of apparel here, literally from head to foot. They seem to have everything, starting from most delicate underwear to autumn coat, with daily and evening dresses mixed on its shelves together with trousers, shirts and sweaters, plus there are lots of cheap but interesting adornments. Those who like to get the most for their money will like the bags and shoes department. The collection is always changing, with new things being added to the mostly monochrome selection once a week, so you might want to come here more than once.
If you walk across Marais' most vibrant street – Rue Vieille-du-Temple – you will see L'étoile Manquante, Le Petit Fer à Cheval, Les Philosophes, La Belle Hortense and La Chaise Au Plafond. These restaurants are all close and don't differ in menus much. However, Les Philosophes has the most pleasant atmosphere and nice outdoor tables for people spotting. The food is simple but nicely served and made of super fresh produce. Chefs have no break (a rare case in France where eating in irregular hours is a problem) and waiters are quick and friendly. Don’t be afraid to order fish, meats or salads - they are all delicious. The best deal is plat du jour with a glass of wine (ask a waiter with a long grey beard for advice) and tarte tatin as a dessert – theirs is the best in town.