Merci – Concept-store
In the meantime, most of the trendy people knows this concept-store between the Place de la République and de la Bastille, between the chic Haut-Marais and the busy 11th arrondissement. Still it is always worth a visit, as it hosts new exhibitions and pop-up stores on a regular basis. For example in parallel to the Paris Fashion Week, a “Deep Navy” theme displays on hanging ropes and on a spectacular stormy weather background, the ultimate fashionable gears for wet weather. On three floors, the store exhibits a mixed selection of new and vintage, young designers and established brands, housewares and used books, men's and woman's wear, accessoires and plants, furniture and electric supplies, and hosts three cafes. But what make that concept even more special, is the fact that the owners ( founders and designers of Bonpoint, a.o.) spend all their sales benefits to charity associations, i.e. for the education of children in Madagascar. Merci! Perfect stop if you have little time to shop in Paris.
My favorite there is the Used Book Café: a huge long wall covered by shelves of books (about 10 000 of them!) sets the decor. If you have the time, and feel like discovering a new author, or re-read a classical, you just grab one and have a nice a coffee with scones while reading it.
111 Bld Beaumarchais
Store: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm, Cafes: also Sunday from 11am to 6pm
From there on, going up the rue Oberkampf where funky bars and small boutiques are lining up, towards the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, with its green spaces stretching in its middle. And going further towards Belleville, the urban art neighborhood par excellence, to the rue Saint-Maur. This street has kept the authentic Parisian flair: young people, workers, artists, immigrants, hair dressers, butchers and bakers. And all along, bar-tabacs and brasseries still offering the plat-du-jour with its glass of red wine.
In this area, becoming slowly the ultimate BoBo place in Paris, the vintage looks and trades are really happening. Café Jane is a typical example: furnished with Formica-tables and vintage design chairs, serving vegetarian and political correct food and beverages. Warm welcoming and very laid back people for Parisian standards. Hipsters and fashion-oriented clientele without an attitude.
197, rue Saint-Maur
Monday to Saturday: 7am to 2am, Sunday: 9am to 6pm
While having a delicious lunch there, I can watch opposite the street a curious window, displaying shoes and clothes in a very raw way. A curious mixture of people keep coming in and out of it: men and women, shabby looking or over-styled characters, or normal people like me.
La Fripe has a funny concept, as it is written on a raw wooden plank outside the shop: only one price for clothes and shoes: 2 € the piece every day, except on Wednesday, 3€, and on Friday, 5€. New shipment everyday. Inside, it is very plain, just trays full of clothes and shoes, some special cloth items displayed on the wall or fancy shoes in the window, and behind a high counter a friendly man. Quality brands in very good condition, it's worth having a look. Specially on Wednesday and Friday of course! I've got lucky myself!
Back, direction the Canal, through the rue Bichat, with my favorite French Designers place,L'Exception(see tactually special Paris-Berlin), ending on a crossing of small streets in the back of the Hôpital St Louis, where various small restaurants concentrate their terraces: gluten-free, Cambodian, Italian, traditional French. Rue Marie-et-Louise, nice name, nice street. At the end of it, the friendly and authentic Cambodian restaurant, known as the best Bo Bun place in Paris: Le Cambodge.
The Bo Bun (traditional soup based on vegetable and rice noodles, served plain or with meat or shrimps) is a complete meal, really tasty and affordable. An unpretentious place, serving traditional food, always full but where you can't reserve a table. Alternatively you can go to Little Cambodge, rue Bichat which serves the same food.
10, avenue Richerand, 75010 Paris
Monday to Friday: 12am-2:30pm / 7pm to 11pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12am - 11pm
If the weather is nice you can follow the Canal, passed the Boulevard de la Villette, until the Parc de Villette where the new Philarmonie de Paris just opened in beginning of 2015. Personally I don't like the architecture of the new Philarmonie, but the adjacent Cité de la Musique or further la Cité des Sciences, and the many other cultural centers, all them part of the Parc de la Villette offer a great panel of exhibitions, concerts, and cultural animations that make it worth the visit.
It is a long but nice walk, on large quays, partially designed and lined up with trees, offering another perspective on Paris's great variety of surroundings: old neighborhoods, high residential compounds, warehouses. And of course nice and small cafes here and there to have a seat with a view on the water, the fishing men or the boules players.
L'eau et les rêves
But the nicest encounter of all, is “l'Eau et les rêves” a maritime bookstore in a barge docked on the Quai de l'Oise. There you'll find any kind of books (mostly in french) that have to do with water, travels, the see and the navigation. Exhibitions, literature evenings, ateliers, “L'eau et les rêves” is also an association promoting the respect of water and the protection of oceans through various events. And just by being on this boat, is already like traveling. The wooden floor, the very mild reeling, the round windows, and the many maritime maps and pictures, all here is an “invitation au voyage”. And maybe, then, you'll rather feel like enjoying this inspiring rêverie instead of walking further to the Parc...
Quai de l'Oise,
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 1pm to 7pm