Seven days exploring Paris means regular coffee stops which means I’m ricocheting off walls, or should I say boutiques which means my credit card is moaning, but not as loudly as my feet which means I’ve done some serious legwork, 63k in fact which means I need new shoes. Shame! ‘Cos there are some seriously funky boots out there. But I digress…it’s the Passages I’m here to report on today and I have found another. Well it wasn’t actually lost in the first place, but I was. And in a good way for that’s how I stumbled upon Galerie Vivienne.
Beautifully preserved architecture, delicate mosaics and exquisite detail housing seriously cool, chic and tres expensive shops including Jean-Paul Gaultier’s flagship boutique; Wolff & Descourtis a fabulous fabric store and my little favorite L’Aparte specializing in paper butterfly’s and flowers. As well, Les Caves Legrand believed to be one of the best wine shops in town, several lush restaurants and A Priori Thé an elegant little rendezvous for afternoon tea.
Naturally a spot to rest the feet, quench the thirst and observe the scenery; and you know what? It’s often the smallest observations that bring the greatest pleasure. As I sipped my coffee I noticed an elderly woman sitting outside her store discreetly sketching the patrons opposite as they sipped theirs. Her companion, an enormous shaggy cat sprawled across the entire stoop. Both were wearing deeply satisfied smiles. Seems I wasn’t the only ‘observer’ that day. I like that.
Uh! oh! I have an addiction. Correction. Another addiction (yes, yes there’s that wine one, and the chocolate one, and the…oh shut up!). This one’s to do with Passages. Parisian ones.
Determined to report in on the lesser known experiences Paris has to offer, suffice to say I was absolutely thrilled to find these hidden gems. This particular one reminded me of the fabulous Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. The Passage du Grand Cerf, again full of delightful surprises (see previous post ‘Loving Parisian Passages’) absolutely enchanted…
Restored to its former glory a few years ago and off the usual tourist track which means it wasn’t crowded, rarely is they say despite the myriad of tempting shops within. Gorgeous Florist Marie Stark, contemporary jeweler Eric et Lydie (apparently originally discovered by Christian Lacroix) and more with très intriguing display props. Particularly enamored with a cocktail umbrella wreath (may press that idea into action for Xmas, accompanied by a steady stream of actual cocktails).
Home wares store La Corbeille for unusual finds including storm umbrellas and Pour Vos Beaux Yeux for vintage eyewear. Loved L’Illustre for cute and clever prints and right next door to a store full of gorgeous silks and wool and a dear little vintage pram housing bolts of fabric. As’art for cool African goodies and the particularly eclectic Richshaw full of twee antique pieces, from delicate door knobs and bicarb lamps to ancient decorative tins and classic comics.
The bonus? Stepped out and onto the cutest pedestrian only rue Saint-Denis bursting with bars, Frommagerie, Boulangerie, Chocolatiers and a batch of uber coolly dressed Mums picking up tiny, chattering tots from the local crèche sporting complete ‘Tartine et Chocolat boutique’ ensembles. Almost made me want one…a wine that is.
Also found an Escargot restaurant. It’s on my list for dining experiences as I’m positive I can manage those ‘slippery little suckers’ without taking an eye out.
Exploring the second layer of Paris requires the luxury of time and given I’ve done the touristy bits, am now on a mission to explore the Passages (see previous post ‘A second layer of Parisian finds). And you know what? Sometimes they just sneak up on you…
Passages Panoramas has numerous entrances and I just happened to find one as I popped out the other end of Passages Jouffroy and onto Boulevard Montmartre. Fortuitous indeed for this one is chock full of surprises. There are half a dozen philatelists’ shops but also several seriously hip wine bars: Les Racines for trendy vins naturels, Coinstot Vino for Italian vintages, and Le Diable Verre, a lounge bar where your feet will insist you wallow a while. Spent ages examining the fascinating collectables in Tombées du Camion, from curious plastic dolls to kitsch postcards, antique tin boxes and quirky door knobs.
Satisfied, a smug smirk on my face now, two Passages in one day. Eight to go.