Travel

The Paris Art & Architecture Guide

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No other city has Paris’s cultural credibility or stores of art: Whether it’s the Louvre, the Pompidou, or its literary legacy, Paris is one of those cities that’s been pace-setting for centuries.

Pierre Hardy

11 Place du Palais Bourbon, 7th | +33.1.45.55.00.67

As seems to be the way in Paris, Pierre Hardy was many things before he was a shoe designer. Initially, the Parisian-born Hardy was a professional dancer. And then he was an illustrator for Vogue Hommes. And then he went to Christian Dior to design shoes, before moving on to Hermès. While he launched his own, iconic collection in 1999, he’s never stopped working for other brands. He’s still the creative director of Hermès’ fine jewelry, and he does men’s and women’s shoes for Balenciaga. His space in the Palais Royal is dark and gothic, which is a pretty epic backdrop for his day-glo shoes and cube-patterned clutches; his second location in the Palais Bourbon is equally (wonderfully) gloomy. There's another store located in the 1st.

JAR

7 Place Vendôme, 7th | +33.1.40.20.47.20

While JAR (a.k.a. Joel Arthur Rosenthal) may have a shop—and that shop may be in Place Vendôme—there’s no point in swinging by unless he’s accepted your appointment. After all, there isn’t even a sign, much less regular hours. Making only 70-80 pieces per year, this reclusive designer and Harvard grad may have come from humble roots (he’s the child of a biology teacher and Bronx postal worker), but he’s made jewelry for some of the world’s most beautiful women. Those who can’t get an original (he won’t sell a piece to someone unless he’s convinced it’s a match), can always pick something up at auction: A 2006 Christie’s sale of Ellen Barkin’s JAR collection featured 17 pieces, including a 22.76-carat diamond ring that fetched more than 1.8 million.

Vanessa Bruno

12 Rue de Castiglione, 1st | +33.1.42.61.44.60

While Vanessa Bruno has more of a global presence these days, for many, a trip to the Paris flagship used to justify a flight to France. That’s because Vanessa Bruno offers a very specific spin on romantic-yet-modern clothing: Here, you’ll find delicate silk rompers arranged next to chunky lace tops and butterfly-patterned pants. It’s always pretty, but never, ever twee. There are also two other locations, one in the 6th and one in the 3rd.

Shakespeare and Company

37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 5th | +33.1.43.25.40.93

This just might be the best bookstore in the world. It has the vibe of a warren-like country home rather than a straightforward shop, books are piled haphazardly from floor to ceiling (many of which are in English), there are inset benches dotted here and there, and it's staffed mostly by college kids who are full of great recommendations. It’s also home to a rich literary history—over the years, Shakespeare and Co. has played host to famous American writers like Alan Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, William Burroughs, and novelist William Styron. Founder George Whitman (the shop is now run by his daughter, Sylvia) famously opened up the stop’s cozy benches and couches to artists and writers who needed a place to stay. Many of these drifting creatives—or tumbleweeds, as they became known—went on to be important literary figures in their own right.

Lydia Courteille

231 Rue Saint Honoré, 1st | +33.1.42.61.11.71

Lined in lush blue velvet, stepping into Lydia Courteille feels a bit like stepping into a music box. It’s a fittingly dream-like backdrop for her handcrafted pieces which take a deep bow to fantasy. Fire opals are set in the maws of lizards, and diamond fireflies sit on carved coral flowers: All of her jewelry is stunningly unusual.

Repossi

6 Place Vendôme, 1st | +33.1.42.96.42.34

Artistic Director Gaia Repossi has transformed her family’s old-world institution—which is the official jeweler to the Royal Family of Monaco—into a relevant and modern brand. Ear cuffs, black diamond-studded earrings, rings that span two digits, and collaborations with designers like Alexander Wang may not be the normal provenance of a nearly-century old jewelry house, but the decidedly cool results justify the departure.

L’Eclaireur

10 Rue Hérold, 1st | +33.1.40.41.09.89

There are very few boutiques that fully embody an aesthetic, but L’Eclaireur does this perfectly—no small feat, considering there are seven very distinct shops scattered around the city, as well as a bar/restaurant that doubles as a shrine to Piero Fornasetti. Armand and Martine Hadida’s original outpost in 1980 was incredibly important for a number of reasons, most notably because L’Eclaireur was the first to break brands like Prada, Helmut Lang, Dries van Noten, and Martin Margiela in France. While the Hadidas have had every opportunity to rest on their laurels, the pace has been relentless ever since as they’ve continued to ferret out the world’s best new talent, in fashion, in jewelry, and in home goods. While the mix at every spot varies, we like the moodily gothic Place des Victoires location best. Under the light cast by a strange and fantastic bird chandelier, you’ll find Fornasetti umbrella stands, chunky chain link bracelets from Mawi, cashmere travel wraps by Denis Colombe, and coated Saint Laurent skinny jeans. If time allows, their most recent project shouldn’t be missed, either: They’ve taken a space in Habitat 1964’s vintage village at Les Puces, where they’re selling a smattering of archival fashion pieces along with furniture. The first U.S. outpost recently opened in Los Angeles.

58m

58 Rue Montmartre, 2nd | +33.1.40.26.61.01

While its décor is marked by a stunningly dramatic stuffed peacock, the shoes and bags here skew more toward the understated. It’s an interesting mix of French and American brands with an eye toward lowkey luxe. Laurence Dacade boots mingle with K. Jacques and Ancient Greek Sandals, along with a handful of streatmlined satchels from brands like Kenzo and Jerome Dreyfuss.

French Trotters

30 Rue de Charonne, 11th | +33.1.47.00.84.35

Now two locations strong, French Trotters pretty much epitomizes what a great boutique should be: Beyond a host of exclusive collaborations, their buyers manage to zero in on the best and most relevant items from the lines they stock. Everything, from the perfectly turned out Michel Vivien suede booties, to the slouchy Jerome Dreyfuss totes, to the asymmetrical jackets from Humanoid, seems like an important wardrobe building block. Meanwhile, don’t miss the very well-priced house label.

Joy

38 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 4th | +33.1.52.58.38.38

Lines like Cacharel, Sonia Rykiel, and See by Chloé set the tone here, which is equal parts girly and refined.

Kabuki Femmes

25 Rue Etienne Marcel, 1st | +33.1.42.33.55.65

Opened by fashion designer Barbara Bui in the '80s, the two floors here are lined with marquee names like Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Balenciaga, and Bui herself—though her namesake boutique is just a few doors down. There’s also a Kabuki for guys on the same block.

Lobato

6 Rue Malher, 4th | +33.1.48.87.68.14

There aren’t any clownish shoes here—in fact, there’s very little in the way of color or pattern. Instead, proprietor Miguel Lobato has built his business over the past 10-plus years by selling relative classics from some of the accessory world’s most interesting designers (Martin Margiela, Lanvin, Chloé, Jerome Dreyfuss). In keeping with the low-profile but luxe vibe, you’ll have to hit the buzzer to gain access to this clean-lined space, but what’s on the other side isn’t intimidating: This is the sort of store where you’ll find the boots you’ll wear all season, and the bag you’ll carry for at least a year.

Maison Bonnet

5 Rue des Petits Champs, 1st | +33.1.42.96.46.35

Though Maison Bonnet is still relatively little-known, almost everyone has seen the house’s glasses: After all, this fourth-generation, Maitre d’Art-recognized, family-run business, which was officially established in 1950, has made some of the most iconic frames around. Yves Saint Laurent, Le Corbusier, Jackie Onassis, and Jacques Chirac were all clients. While you won’t be able to pick up a pair at your local optometrist’s office, you can visit their appointment-only Paris outpost, which actually just opened in 2009 (the company operates out of a workshop in Sens, Burgundy). There, a master craftsman will map your entire face, measuring three different angles of your nose, the gap between your temples, the overall structure of your skull, the shape and tenor of your cheekbones and eyes, etc. One pair of glasses requires three visits (the final two can be condensed, for those who are visiting), and while they’re revered for their work in tortoise shell, they do more affordable versions in horn and acetate as well.

Maison Martin Margiela

13 Rue de Grenelle, 7th | +33.1.42.22.54.58

Nothing Martin Margiela turns out is particularly basic, but thanks to a muted palette and exquisite tailoring, everything is supremely wearable. The Belgian designer’s boots are always classic (if cerebral), and his jewelry is pretty cool, too. MM6, Maison Martin Margiela’s more reasonably priced line, just found a home on 22 place du Marché Saint Honoré in the 1st. There's another location in the 9th.

Ragtime

23 Rue de l'Echaudé, 6th | +33.1.56.24.00.36

Madame Auguet knows exactly what sort of treasures line her shelves, though this old-school vintage boutique still offers a bit of a dig. You will find exquisite (and important pieces) here, along with dresses and gowns from designers without big, marquee names. Photograph by Diane Pernet.

Tsumori Chisato

24 Rue de Sèvres, 7th | +33.1.45.48.05.43

Japanese designer Tsumori Chisato cut her teeth working for Issey Miyake after she graduated from Tokyo's Bunka Fashion School in the '70s, though when she launched her line in the '90s, it was with an aesthetic that was undeniably her own. Though they’re frustratingly hard-to-find in the world at-large, Tsumori Chisato pieces are pretty unmistakable, and are a total siren song for anyone who isn’t sartorially timid. Vivid colors and patterns, intricate embellishments, and offbeat details are mainstays, along with slightly avant-garde cuts: While they look challenging on the hanger, they’re transportingly cool when on. (If you’re too shy for one of her dresses, test-drive one of her metallic patchworked wallets.) The Paris shop—her first location outside of Asia—is as wonderland-like as her clothing.

Comme des Garçons Parfum

23 Place du Marche St-Honore, 2nd | +33.1.47.03.15.03

Undulating walls and soft pink lighting paint a perfectly futuristic scene for the 40-or-so Commes des Garçons perfumes on offer here. Everything they do pushes the needle just a little bit, from the fact that their fragrances are always unisex to the highly unusual notes in their perfumes: mineral carbon, sand dunes, nail polish, cellulose, aldehydes, saffron, and leather are all cited.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian

5 Rue d'Alger, 1st | +33.1.42.60.07.07

Francis Kurkdjian's nose may be responsible for some big blockbuster scents (he created Jean Paul Gaultier's Le Male at the beginning of his career—and then went on to do dozens more for pretty much every big fashion house around), but it's his special projects that we love best. He helped artist Sophie Calle bottle the smell of money in 2003, and in 2006 he recreated the scent of Marie Antoinette for an installation at Versailles. It's no surprise that at his namesake, gallery-like boutiques in the 1st and 4th arrondissements, things are done a little differently: Perfumes are set against a wall of light, and the offerings go well beyond the traditional. His signature scents infuse everything from incense paper to leather bracelets to home sprays, and his now-famous traveling perfume case is on hand should you require a custom fragrance.

Au Petit Bonheur le Chance

13 Rue Saint-Paul, 4th | +33.1.42.74.36.38

Perfect linens, café au lait bowls, and enamel numbers, line the shelves at this truly eensy shop. There's also a great selection of ephemera—signage, menus, et al.

Caravane

19 rue Saint Nicolas, 12th | +33.1.53.02.96.96

With a palette of muted tones, and pieces that look like they belong in a sand-washed cabin on the beach, Caravane is a useful resource for unfussy linens—both for the bed and the table. There are other locations in the 4th, 6th7th, and at Le Bon Marché.

Marché Paul Bert & Marché Serpette

6-110 Rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen | +33.1.40.11.54.14

While officially part of Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, these two markets are distinct enough to stand on their own: Here's you'll find the more rarified antiques and easy proximity to the delicious restaurant Ma Cocette.

Nordik Market

13 Rue Charlot, 3rd | +33.1.57.40.90.65

Throw pillows cut from Joseph Franck's iconic prints, cut glass serving bowls from Orrefors, and two-tone ceramic vases from Ditte Fischer fit right in with the vintage, mid-century Scandinavian furniture on offer here. You'll find low-slung Hans Wegner chairs, sleek unsigned credenzas, well-loved, clean-lined leather couches, along with brass orb pendant lights that look completely ageless.

White Bird

38 Rue du Mont Thabor, 1st | +33.1.58.62.25.86

Though you'll likely recognize some of the big names here by their signature style (Arielle de Pinto's spun mesh necklaces, Ten Thousand Things' impossibly delicate freshwater pearl pendants, Cathy Waterman's garlanded rings, Ileana Makri's black diamond-studded, serpentine bangles), White Bird breaks new designers onto the scene, too. Dezso's cord and shark-tooth necklaces are equal parts tough and gorgeous, and Lito's geometric rings are some of the coolest we've seen. The vibe is low-key and unintimidating, making this a great resource for significant others who need some guidance and are in gift-buying mode.

Think & More

108 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1st | +33.1.40.26.18.51

This large, gallery-like space sits right on Rue Saint-Honoré—while it's surrounded by ages-old boutiques, it focuses squarely on the future. Beautifully turned out lighting fixtures, wallpaper, and tabletop pieces look pretty great against the all-white backdrop.

Bulle

8-10 Passage Bullourde, 11th | +33.1.58.30.96.37

Helmed by Audrey Halin and Marie Leonetti, two 30-somethings with an inarguably excellent knack for finding buried treasures, Bulle (which means Bubble in French) sells those treasures, reimagined. Whether it's a mid-century credenza that's been revitalized with a some cherry red paint, or a sturdy sideboard, inset with tiles, the pieces here don't feel retro or kitschy at all. They're fun and bright and wonderfully modern. There's also an in-house line of new pieces that are indistinguishable from their vintage peers (but obviously, not one of a kind).

De Bouche à Oreille

26 Rue Roi de Sicile, 4th | +33.1.44.61.07.03

The handsome exterior—rendered in slate-grey—telegraphs the specifically old-fashioned aesthetic inside. Channeling the feel of a turn-of-the-century laboratory-meets-library, you'll find wonders from the natural world (shells, skeletons, taxidermy), alongside fleur-de-lis bookends and globes. There are a handful of antiques (chandeliers and the like), though a majority of the wares are excellent reproductions, meaning they have all the charm of the originals without the hefty price tags.

Habitat 1964

77-81 Rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen

So here's the deal: Sir Terence Conran's Habitat, which launched in England in 1964 with the sole premise of bringing affordable, useful, and beautiful everyday objects to the masses, pioneered the renovation of a massive former chandelier factory at Les Puces. And then they enlisted famed fashion retailer L'Eclaireur and a handful of venerable antiques dealers to join them in opening up shops. At Habitat, you'll find iconic vintage pieces from the company's past 40 years—all sourced from the staff and a general online appeal. If you're looking to unload a few Habitat pieces from years ago, you can likely sell them back here. Meanwhile, don't miss La Buvette in the complex, which traffics in cakes and excellent coffee.

Marché aux Puces Saint-Ouen de Clignancourt

140 Rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen | +33.1.40.11.77.36

Flea market is a bit of a misnomer for Les Puces, which is inarguably the world's most iconic: It's a destination for antique and interiors lovers, and lined with the dealers that service them. You won't find fledgling stalls—you'll find full-on stores. In short: There's no thrifting here, and very little that could be perceived as a bargain. The goods are gorgeous, though, and justify the high price tags.