Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Enfin, Paris!

I've been planning this trip to Paris for months and finally
i l   e s t   l ' h e u r e ! 

I'm so pleased to be staying in an apartment this time, as opposed to a hotel.  The apartment is in an area where I've never spent much time, but central to many areas I plan to explore.  I fell in love with it and the price was fantastic! The rental company is called "Paris Hideaways" (although I would be remiss if I failed to recommend two other fantastic apartments for rent, "Maison Don Pedro" through Vacation in Paris rentals and "Louvre Montorgeuil" through Paris Interiors rentals"  Both are in a favorite area, Les Halles and also border on the trendy Marais district.)  Many overlook this alternative to hotels, and the prices of most apartment rentals are 30%-50% less expensive. 
I always compile my own little Moleskin booklet when I visit Paris, and this year's edition is bigger than ever.  I have many areas to cover and many locations per arrondissement. 
As my husband likes to say, "That's a nice problem to have!"

Where to begin?  The 1st arrondissement, I suppose!
For a brief summary, Wikipedia describes it as "one of the oldest in Paris, the Île de la Cité having been the heart of the city of Lutetia, conquered by the Romans in 52 BC, while some parts on the right bank (including Les Halles included) date back to the early Middle Ages."  Wikipedia also states that the First Arrondissement is one of the smallest and least populated of Paris' 20 districts, partially due to the fact that it includes the Louvre Museum and its gardens, The Tuileries.  Although much of the rest of the area is taken up by businesses and government affairs, it is still home to many world-renowned shops.

I will likely cave and visit Angelina; touristy and across from the Louvre, but some of the best chocolat chaud in Paris!
As much as I love the First Arrondissement, I still find it a mixture of overly touristy junk shops and incredibly high-priced luxury-brand stores...neither of which tends towards my typical destinations.  Some of the shops I'm most looking forward to visiting in the 1st include...
l'Heure Bleue photo by Do It In Paris Blog
L’HEURE BLEUE 17, rue Saint Roch
Maribeth Clemente's The Riches of Paris  called it "one of the most unassuming, affordable and tasteful antique shops in Paris…treasures from mid 1800s to 1920…home décor…vases, lamps, furniture, little paintings and jewelry are charmingly displayed alongside collectibles such as breakfast bowls and old bowling pins.” 

Astier de Villatte shop photo from patchnyc blog
ASTIER de VILLATTE 173, rue St-Honore
Anyone who knows John Derian knows about this special line of "exquisite handmade pieces crafted from black terracotta clay, using a special technique which leaves deliberate imperfections on the surface—small dimples that reject mass-production and speak to their authenticity." I am especially looking forward to getting my hands on at least one of these for my (I know, overdone!) collection of white porcelain pieces.

piece from Astier de Villatte, photo by Passing Open Windows Blog
Next, I'll head for the JC de CASTELBAJAC CONCEPT STORE at 31, Place du Marché Saint Honoré.  I'm often suspicious of such uber-hip-and-trendy, must-see stores...perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised!  Another shop which falls into this category is LE PRINCE JARDINER at 37, rue Valois in the Jardin du Palais Royale.  Perhaps a gift for my mother the gardner, if not a few new ideas for interior design. 
Palais Royale image from www.trekearth.com
So many of "the" shops have moved to the Palais Royale in recent years! One of my favorites was a needlepoint boutique I happened upon. It had the most unique, creative designs in its shop window.
' le leche-vitrine ' at Didier Ludot  
I also love Galeries Vivienne, slightly north of the Palais Royale.
image inside of Galeries Vivenne, one of Paris' many Passages
Skipping on to other arrondissements, here is a list of
other establishments I look forward to visiting:
GALERIE   LAGUIOLE 1, rue Sainte-Opportune 1st
 IgoUgo Blog says of the French classic cutlery and knives manufacturer, "If you want the real thing, look for the stylized "L" through the word "Laguiole.." The store itself is a fine example of modern minimalist design by Philippe Starck."
FLAMANT 279, rue St-Honore  2nd
From Suzy Gershman, author of Born To Shop series of books: "Long a brand name in French home style, Flamant recently opened stores in all of the major French cities. It makes its own furniture, but also has gift and tabletop items. There’s a touch of English in the look, but it is a dream style for many French families."
MERCI 111, boulevard Beaumarchais 3rd
There has been a lot of talk about Merci of late.  "Concept Stores" (such as Colette, L'Eclaireur, etc.) have been all the big thing in Paris for awhile.  Merci, however, takes the concept and puts a charitable spin on it.  As Shopper's Diary Blog explains, "Merci is housed in a former factory...and stocks furniture, fashion items, and other pieces for the home donated by designers. Customers can fill their own bottles with perfume from Annick Goutal, or have a coffee in the used-book café; all profits from the venture go to a children's charity in Madagascar." 
ARGENTERIE DE TURENNE 19, rue de Turenne 4eme
"Much of what’s sold here comes from hotels that have gone out business, estates and occasionally, old cruise ships….the walls are lined top to bottom with shelves that contain hundreds of silver teapots, frames, platters, champagne buckets, and more unusual items such as silver egg cups, wine tasters and toast holders." - from Maribeth Clemente's The Riches of Paris
shop photo of la tuile a loup
LA TUILE A LOUP  35, rue Daubenton 5th
I probably love the sixth arrondissement most of all. 
It is my favorite place to shop (for everything!) even if all of the hippest areas of Paris in the past 10+ years have been on the Right Bank.  I couldn't begin to give all of the places I plan to visit here (many of them have little to do with interior design!) but a couple high up on the list are:
 CIRE TRUDON 78, rue de seine (also 12, rue du temple )
"In 1643, a merchant named Claude Trudon arrived in Paris...In addition to grocer, he was also a wax merchant and supplied his customers with domestic candles and candles for the parish...Trudon developed and perfected his know how to produce candles of the best quality....On the Eve of Louis XIV's reign, Maitre Trudon thus created the first small family manufacturing business that carried his name and made the fortunes of his heirs.....Maison Trudon officially became royal wax manufacturer in 1719.... Wax supplier to Napoleon during the Empire... Cire Trudon is now the oldest French manufacturer and produces candles of the best quality according to its time-honored traditions." -- Cire Trudon Site 
Maybe I'll have to have that Napolean Candle!

Cafe de la Mairie at Place Saint-Sulpice
Other popular interior and design stores in the area include : CATHERINE MEMMI and MAISON de FAMILLE, near the Place Saint Sulpice. Place de Furstenburg is a charming spot in the heart of Saint Germain, traditionally known for interior design shops to the trade, such as Manuel Canovas, Pierre FreyLelièvre and others close by including BLANC d'IVOIRE.
Montmartre (rue Saint Vincent)...touristy, but still one of my favorite spots.
So that's it for now....leaving in the am and still not packed!