In this article, you'll find the latest authentic off-the-beaten-track Parisian shopping gems I encountered whilst scouting the streets of Paris, including Parisian haute couture you can actually afford, a gorgeous boutique of handmade crafts and knick-knacks, and candy heaven in the kind of Chocolaterie that inspired the film Chocolat!
Affordable haute couture fashion in Paris
Keeping my eyes peeled for new and interesting Parisian things, I happily stumbled upon a new one whilst strolling along the Rue de Paradis (10th district). My attention was grabbed by light and music emanating from the entrance of number 14. I thought it must be a party, but further nosing around paid off well, for I had discovered a new shopping gem from high-fashion Vente Presse (super sales reserved to the media people), which basically means somewhere you can get your hands on haute couture at a massive discount – usually by invitation, and only if you know the right people …
… and four young men did: Levon, Arthur, Micha and Paul started using their Vente Presse access to get hold of high-fashion goods you've probably never dreamed of being able to afford and are now making them available to you! The outlet is called Les Copains D'abord ('Friends First'), after the title of a song by famous French singer and composer Georges Brassens.
Les Copains D'abord offers catwalk fashion at 60-80% discount, spanning the whole clothing and accessory range. Number 14 Rue de Paradis are their start-up premises, and as such are bare and basic in contrast to the exquisite fashion goodies displayed within – but décor is the last thing on your mind when riffling through the stunning range of haute couture!
Some of the labels I saw included: Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen (England), Atsuro Tayama (Japan), D&G, Armani and Versace (Italy), and the list goes on and on …
Les Copains intends to get new premises, so do contact them before dropping by to make sure they're still there (or to find out where they've moved to) at 06 63 08 70 50. Their current address is 14, Rue de Paradis, 75010 Paris
La Boutique Misia
Misia's charming boutique offers another of those genuinely Parisian shopping experience. Operated by the owner – the eponymous artist and craftswoman Misia – and located Rue du Bac in the 7th district, the shop offers various original and personalized fashion goods and knick-knacks, from leather wallets and travel sacks to clothes, hats, scarves, jewelry and containers. Misia herself is at your service, adorning items with names, designs or slogans in beautiful inks and paints. I saw pretty golden boxes reading 'Je vaux de l'or' (I'm worth gold), and 'Je ne suis pas difficile, je me contente du meilleur' (I'm not difficult, I'm quite satisfied with the best).
A lovely and friendly atmosphere pervades Misia's shop as she bustles around touching up her creations for the boutique's large clientele, occasionally stopping to offer candy to visiting children.
Misia does her utmost to have personalized orders ready within two days, and speaks good English. Prices are quite reasonable for these unique creations: passport holders or other pouches range from 10 to 20 euros, travel bags from 50 to 80 euros, and personalized T-shirts for around 50 euros.
The address is 87, Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris. The phone number is 01 42 84 20 52.
'Chocolat' – the genuine article
Attention all chocolate and candy lovers! You're in for a treat when you walk along the Boulevard St. Germain. At number 108, near the crossroads of the busy Boulevard St. Michel, stand the mesmerizing shop-front windows of Patrick Roger – Chocolatier.
If you've ever read Joanne Harris's Chocolat or seen the film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, you'll appreciate seeing the real McCoy. Roger's finely-crafted, innovative and prize-winning chocolate statues are worth the trip alone, but no matter what your chocolate and candy preferences are, you're sure to find something to satisfy your palate amongst the wide range of hand-made sweet creations – from marzipan animals to nougats, jams, fruit jellies and caramels, all home made by Roger and his family – the quinces are even picked from his own garden!
But even for those who don't have a sweet tooth, you'll still appreciate the artistry of Roger's chocolate sculptures, which earned him the coveted award of 'Meilleur ouvrier de France' (France's Best Craftsman) three years ago.
An idea of products and prices:
Nougat: 6.50 euros / 100gs
Truffles: 8 euros / 100gs
60 cm of various chocolate pieces in a green rectangular box: 120 euros
1 meter of chocolate in a box: 180 euros
Roger Patrick has two other shops, one on the upscale Avenue Victor Hugo (16th district) and another in Sceaux (a town situated on the outskirts of Paris) from which he hails and where his production premises are based.
Once again, the address is 108 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris. The phone number is 01 43 29 38 42, and the nearest metro station is 'Odeon'.
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