Wandering around Paris for more than a week, I made a list of the shops that don't always make the guide books and thus might not be on your list . They're worth checking out. Why? In a city that has a true embarrassment of riches, these are the places that stood out, kept me happy, showed special flair among the competition, and weren't unreasonably pricey. I tend to duck the touristy shops, although some are included because they have something worthy of attention, and focus on "the real Paris," where the Parisians shop.
The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, 22 Rue Saint Paul, 4th Arrondissement, telephone 01.48.04.75.08. Email-- email@example.com.
With so many English-speaking people in Paris, there are several English language bookstores. While Brentanos and Shakespeare & Company have well-established and deserving brands, The Red Wheelbarrow in the Marais is the place to which I will always return. It's a small independent bookstore choc-a-block with the familiar and titles and editions of novels that you may not find in the US.
Clothing and Accessories
Window shopping and browsing are a delight for the senses and full entertainment, but here are some places where I actually closed a deal. Why? Inviting window displays, originality of merchandise, something really unique, especially friendly staff, and good value. Stick with these areas -- great art to wear in the Marais (3rd and 4th Arrondissements), funky fun in the Latin Quarter (5th), and classy high fashion in the 6th and 7th (Left Bank). Hot this spring? Pastels (again) especially lavender, tangerine, light teal and grass green, whimsical decoration of all kinds (buttons, bows, ribbons, patchwork details), capris, shoes and handbags of all colors, every style hat in straw and in any color (including cloche and fedora), bijoux, bijoux, bijoux...
A la Bonne Renommée, 26 Rue Vieille du Temple, 4th Arrondissement, telephone 01.42.72.03.86. Exquisite fabrics with intricate details in "le patch," the contemporary patchwork sensation so hot this season, and incredible hats and scarves in this store built from a designers' workshop. Here you can count on discovering that one-of-a-kind item that will last past one season, both in quality and in style.
Atelier Thochim, 46 Rue Mouffetard, 5th Arrondissement, telephone 01.43.37.06.54. Jewelry, scarves and accessories. Thomas and his staff have great taste and can help you choose what honestly looks good on you (and what doesn't). The Rue "Mouffe" gets a bad rap among some people because it's student-y and tourist-y; however, there are some very cool shops and classy bargains, so I suggest putzing through the neighborhood.
Carale, 31 Rue Descartes (which becomes Rue Mouffetard), 5th Arrondissement, telephone 01.44.07.01.53. Jewelry, scarves and accessories. I was attracted to the window display of necklaces and earrings of buttons, only to find them inside in virtually every color combination.
Galleries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 9th Arrondissement, telephone 01.42.82.34.56. This grande dame of department stores on the Right Bank near the Opera has extensive selections and reasonable deals on the accessories and jewelry floor (1st), particularly in pretty things for your hair and great handbags, including a particularly large selection of Longchamps.
Imex, 8 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 3rd Arrondissement (also Le Marais), telephone 01.48.87.14.76. Buttons and laces to the left and ready to wear clothing, especially a large selection of coats and sweaters, to the right. My girlfriend and I were charmed for more than an hour among the buttons and ribbons that a surge of creativity tempted me to redo all my shirts with individualized distinction. I thought better of it after a few moments but nonetheless walked out with a couple of stylish faux furs and some unusual scarves.
Le Bon Marché (Rive Gauche), 24 Rue de Sèvres, 7th Arrondissement, telephone 01.44.39.80.00. This stylish department store used to be a "good deal" (and thus it's name) but now it's on the scale of Bloomies or Saks. Yet, the designer boutiques are carefully chosen, inviting, and tastefully selective in displays that do not suggest mass shopping "a la department store."
Monoprix (multiple locations). This chain starts with cosmetics and finishes with a small but practical selection of clothing and accessories. Ever-seeking scarves, cosmetics and perfume, I discovered some real finds in the Monoprix on the Champs Élysées (8th) and on Rue Rennes off Boulevard St-Germain (6th).