Paris in August
Paris gets quiet in August, when, in a stroke of brilliance, France gives itself the month off. While many restaurants and boutiques shut down for vacances—some for the entire months, others for a week or so to give their staff a break—there’s something nice about visiting during this quiet spell. And best of all, some of our favorite places do stay open. Our Paris-in-August guide has become a goop tradition for this reason. Below, a roundup of our tried-and-true Paris spots, plus a bunch of new-to-us restaurants, bars, and shops whose doors will be open this August. (Of course, the department stores, big-name boutiques—Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc.—museums, and hotels, like the reopened Ritz, will be fully functional, too.) Rule of thumb: Bars and restaurants belonging to hotels are always a safe bet this time of year.
Shakespeare and Company37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 5th | +18.104.22.168.40.93
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 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 Company has played host to famous American writers like Allen Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, William Burroughs, and William Styron. Founder George Whitman (the shop is now run by his daughter, Sylvia) famously opened up the shop’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 become important literary figures in their own right.
Astier de Villatte173 Rue St. Honoré, 1st | +22.214.171.124.74.13
Though it's well located on rue Saint-Honoré, this is the sort of spot that's easy to walk right by: There's not really even a sign, and inside it's hushed, dimly lit, cloister-like, and achingly cool, complete with rickety, slightly off-kilter shelves that literally sag under the weight of Astier de Villatte's ceramic tableware. Made from black terra-cotta clay and then finished in the brand's signature milky white, these perfectly imperfect dishes are the hallmark of some of the best-dressed tables we know. You'll also find the house line of geometric-print, gold-rimmed notebooks (made by the last master printer in Paris) and the gorgeously old-fashioned candle and incense collections, along with a handful of oddities, like glassware cast in the shape of skulls and stout little teapots.
BontonGaleries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 5th Floor, 9th
Launched by the son of the founders of Bonpoint, Bonton is styled like a department store for minis: Heart-shaped cushions, bedside lamps cast in the shape of geese, knitted rattles, strawberry-printed crib sheets, stationery, tutus, and toys mingle with the house line of adorable basics. Beyond baby shower gifts and souvenirs for little ones back home, there’s an in-store hair salon and a retro photo booth, so this is an excellent pit stop if you have kids in tow. There are also locations in the 3rd, Le Bon Marché, and the 7th.
Merci111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 3rd | +126.96.36.199.00.33
It's rare to find a store that's so much bigger than its collective parts, but Merci is one of those spots that opened to an endless stream of breathless acclaim—and just as many inches of coverage in the press. This is easy to understand: For one, all profits go to charities for children in Madagascar; for two, it's gorgeous and artful while still feeling accessible to all. Located in an airy, sprawling nineteenth-century fabric factory, this superstore sells the best of pretty much everything. Labels like Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno, and Stella McCartney mingle on the clothing racks; Aesop shampoos and Annick Goutal perfumes line the shelves in the comprehensive beauty apothecary; and there are loads of amazing homewares, too, like Caran d'Ache pens, Muuto pendants, and even washi tape. Fresh flowers and gardening tools? Check. Don't leave without visiting one of the three cafés: The Merci Canteen offers veggie-centric lunches and treats, the Cinéma Café is perfect for a quick bite or glass of wine, and the Used Book Café in the basement is our favorite, as you can flip through any one of the 10,000 preloved books that line the walls while you wait for your brunch.
Centre Commercial2 Rue de Marseille, 10th | +33.1.42.02.26.08
Large and loftlike, this industrial-feeling store has an ambitious mandate: fair-trade clothing and accessories from little-known and established artisan brands, mixed in with a smattering of vintage furniture, art books, records, and indie zines. There are gold tribal earrings from A Peace Treaty, floral-print Suzie Winkle sweatshirts, Véja sneakers, and nubby men's cardigans from S.N.S. Herning. If you've got little ones, don't miss the outpost devoted to kids.
Arty Dandy1 Rue de Furstemberg, 6th | +188.8.131.52.43.40.36
With few exceptions, almost everything that lines the Crayola-colored shelves here rings in at under a hundred euros, whether it's tribal-inspired earrings, slick little sunglasses, or scarves printed with diamonds and spades.
Aurélie Bidermann55 Bis Rue des Saints-Pères, 6th | +184.108.40.206.48.43.14
Aurélie Bidermann is cool, a fact that's readily apparent in the design of her bright, turquoise-tile-accented shop. You'll find her entire line—including plenty of the braided cord bracelets for which she's now famous—plus horn necklaces, painted enamel earrings shaped like leaves, and tasseled pendants.
Librairie Alain Brieux48 Rue Jacob, 6th | +33.01.42.60.21.98
A bookshop and antiquarian for over a century, Librairie Alain Brieux specializes in rare scientific and sometimes esoteric titles, though the real allure is its cabinet-of-curiosities vibe. The windows and interior displays are continually refreshed with weird and wonderful assortments of vintage anatomical models, glass eyes, unusual toys, and the like.
Buly 18036 Rue Bonaparte, 6th | +33.01.43.29.02.50
The husband-and-wife team behind revamped cosmetics line Buly added a couple degrees of fantasy when furnishing their flagship shop—modeled after a nineteenth-century apothecary—with Tuscan tiled floors, Italian marble counters, intricately carved wooden cupboards, and prettily painted beams. And then there are the products: alcohol-free scents and modern, paraben-free formulations, beautifully packaged in old-fashioned vials and glass jars. Whether you’re in the market or not, this shop is a treat just to look at.
L/UNIFORM21 Quai Malaquais, 6th | +33.01.42.61.76.27
From cofounder Jeanne Signoles comes this new must-have bag brand—done in canvas, and with a utilitarian, slightly nautical aesthetic. It’s hard not to fall for the simplicity of the concept: Choose the color for the bag, trims, and handles and add your initials in Futura. Stop by the small, sleek, Masamichi Katayama-designed space to specify your bag, suitcase, tote, or pencil case.
Madeleine et Gustave19 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th | 33.01.40.38.61.02
This three-story home concept shop presents contemporary and affordable French, Dutch, and Belgian brands in a whitewashed and totally serene space, where you can try out the furniture while enjoying a coffee from the upstairs café. The selection of small accessories is on point—especially the flower and garden accessories from Belgian design megalith Serax.
Olympia Le-TanPassage des Deux Pavillons, 5 Rue Des Petites Champs, 1st | +33.01.42.36.42.92
Best known for her felt clutches based on classic books, fashion designer Olympia Le-Tan’s boutique has a kitschy, boudoir-like feel. Along with her now-iconic bags, you’ll find her line of vamp-meets-girlie printed dresses and accessories here, presented against monogrammed pink wallpaper designed by her father, famed illustrator Pierre Le-Tan.
Voyageurs du Monde48 Rue Sainte-Anne, 2nd | +33.01.42.86.17.38
This fantastic little travel bookshop is owned by the major travel agency across the street. While this may seem like a clever sales ploy, that doesn’t detract from the selection. Here you’ll find novels and nonfiction from around the world—some in English—along with maps, city guides, and a considered edit of handsome and practical travel accessories. Pop in at the ever-changing pop-up next door and you might pick up a jacket or home accessory, too, from some far-flung brand or workers cooperative.
Antoine et Lili95 Quai De Valmy, 10th | +33.01.40.37.41.55
While this chainlet’s busy, color-soaked printed dresses and quirky shoes might be a little over-the-top for our tastes, the global furniture and home accessory finds are a Parisian go-to for injecting a dose of color into a home. At the shop in the 10th, stock up on printed Nathalie Leté dishware, Mexican oilcloths, woven plastic chairs, and more, which are pleasingly crammed into every last nook in the shop.
7L7 Rue de Lille, 7th | +220.127.116.11.03.58
Karl Lagerfield is thoroughly modern polymath: He’s a fashion designer, photographer, illustrator, collaborator, and…bookworm. 7L is Lagerfeld’s very well-situated (the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and Saint-Germain are all close by) shrine to design. The shelves stretch up the height of two floors and are heavy with books, which are stacked rather than lined up horizontally. After an hour or two spent rummaging for titles across interior and fashion design, photography, garden landscaping, and, of course, tomes produced under 7L’s own imprint, collapse into the long sofa and start reading.