Wednesday 18th June
Not-to-be-missed-knits and destination tips: Paris
Paris is becoming a bit of a regular trip for us – for no other reason than we love it. Here are our a few of our favourite things. So far, anyway…
There are many yarn shops in Paris but (perhaps due its proximity to where we often stay) we always pop in to Entrée des Fournisseurs - La Mercerie Parisienne, 8 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris. Tucked away in a little courtyard off the main street (which can be very busy, particularly at weekends) this is a peaceful haven of a haberdashery with a relatively small but brilliant quality collection of yarns, accessories, patterns and books, it is also stuffed full of fabrics, ribbons, buttons, lace, needles and threads… it’s easy to get lost in here.
They have a no-photo rule but here’s my picture from the outside and a peek inside the front door!
Derriere, 69 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris. Also tucked away in a little courtyard (a theme emerging already) off Rue des Gravilliers – a street that’s home to handbag and other wholesalers by day but comes to life at night as people descend upon a handful of really good restaurants (Derriere counts 404, Andy Wahloo and Bob’s Kitchen amongst its neighbours). We went on a Monday night and the staff spent most of the evening turning people away – I was glad I’d made an albeit clumsy attempt at booking earlier in the day, for all the trips to Paris I must brush up on my French!
It’s high end but comfortable and it is designed in a way that makes you feel at home (it is a converted Parisian townhouse and holds on to a lot of its domestic charm), the staff are warm and helpful and the food is delicious. We raided the specials.
Also, you must try Au Bourguignon du Marais, 52, Rue Francois Miron. The best bourguignon I’ve ever eaten (though Mr WMJ makes a mean one) in a typical Parisian setting, with the naughtiest chocolate mousse for pudding. There are other dishes on the menu too, of course, but I think the bourguignon would take some beating! 10/10!
If I had to make a list of my top… 10 things, tea and cats would definitely feature. So when I saw that Café des Chats ‘un salon de the’ had opened it’s doors, I was booked in before you could say ‘Huxley, get down from the table’.
Café des Chats at 16 rue Michel Le Comte, is really cute. Sit and drink tea - they do food too - and be entertained by the 12 (I think?) cats that live there. The kitties are looked after impeccably and are really relaxed and friendly around visitors. They’re a total distraction – this isn’t a place for in depth conversation with whoever you’re with! The staff were great - with the customers and with the cats - and the service, if you’re even bothered about that when there are so many cute cats to hang out with, is really good.
I’d recommend booking, it opened at midday on the day we were there and was full to the brim within half an hour.
Ralph’s, 173 Boulevard Saint Germain, is the restaurant attached to the Ralph Lauren store in Saint Germain. We ate here and it was really tasty, but if you wanted a quick pit stop on your way through Saint Germain on a sunny day, there is a beautiful enclosed courtyard to have a drink take a break from the hustle and bustle.
There are almost too many great places to shop in Paris, it’s of course famous for its fashion houses and the Champs Elysee with its flagship designer stores but each district has its own little gems, from high end department stores and teeny boutiques to local flea markets and the Sympa stores in Montmatre (absolutely worth a rummage if you have time).
Our shopping highlight on the last trip though was Merci – the most amazing little concept store at 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris. As we entered the little courtyard off the main road (another one!) we were greeted with a truck full of flowers and farm animals – I don’t think this is a permanent fixture! Inside you’ll find some of the most beautiful furniture and furnishings, clothes, jewellery, beauty products, plants and flowers as well as two lovely cafes and a canteen in the basement that opens out into the garden. We only had time for a flying visit but next time will put a few hours aside!
We’ve stayed in many different places but our favourite was a gorgeous little flat in the Marais that we found through Owners Direct. The flat is in a superb location on the corner of Rue Ferdinand Duval and Rue de Roi de Sicile and is owned by interior designer, Hazel, who has created charm and calm in the heart of one of the most bustling areas of the city. If you want the luxury of a high star hotel at a fraction of the cost it’s definitely worth checking out.