Shopping in Paris. Let’s just say it has far exceeded my expectations. Window shopping that is, as I haven’t exactly consumed much — yet.
There are tons of inspiring boutiques everywhere you look and cool concept stores. Colette, perhaps, being the most famous. I haven’t made my way over yet (the shame, I know, I’m expecting to be kicked out of Paris any moment now by the Fashion Police, but somehow a croissant or something equally fabulously unhealthy always intercepts). However, the flat we’re staying in is literally one block away from Merci, a shop the incredibly chic woman who showed us around our place told me about (I wish I had a picture, but this woman defined ageless. She was probably in her late 40s/50s, had the best cool-meets-chic tennies on, skinny jeans, black tee, black trench, great cuff bracelet, darling cropped coiffure, and perfect makeup. She was a middle-aged hipster who didn’t look like she was dressing too young for her age. She made me think “This is what I want to age like.” Perfection. She even had a tattoo on the inside of her wrist that I liked and I tend to loathe tattoos. Girl crush? No. Woman crush? Oui!).
I asked her where a good place to grab a bite to eat was here in the Marais district (a neighborhood I could not recommend more — think SoHo), as most restaurants in Europe stop serving food between 4-7pm, and she said Merci. Then went on to explain that it’s like Colette, but maybe even more interesting, and was started by the couple behind the highly successful luxury children’s line Bonpoint. At which point, I thought maybe she thought I asked for a good place to shop (language barrier?). But sure enough, Merci, which I would describe as Anthropologie meets Takashimaya, had a cafe — in its library. Its library filled with donated books, which you can purchase for $2 on up.
In addition to the cozy library and cafe, a vintage Fiat in the courtyard and a florist, there are great home items, gifts, jewelry, shoes, fabric, clothing, vintage clothing, clothing by designers like Stella McCartney, Marni and YSL designed exclusively for Merci and sold at 30-40% less than their normal designer lines. Why? Because Merci donates all of its profits to a foundation set up to help underprivileged children (hence no mark-up and you get to buy basically at wholesale – same with the perfumes which are less to purchase at Merci than at the designer’s own store).
Housed in a former wallpaper factory and opened in March of 2009, Merci is like being in a modern art museum with great installations, but everyone is really friendly and you can touch (and buy) everything. If you want fashion inspiration, just drop by on a Saturday afternoon. I witnessed so many Sartorialist-worthy ensembles that it was almost overwhelming, just like Paris herself (my arms hurt from picking my jaw up off the ground constantly — that’s how beautiful this city is, step after step — le swoon). There was the girl who made me die for hot pink tights. Another who made me think $500+ for Christian Louboutins would be a wise investment. Many a pretty who looked like she should be modeling for Teen Vogue. Too much memorable style to recount. And, unlike some other shopping establishments (I’m looking at you Le Bon Marche, whose very strict no-photos policy would make you think they were selling nuclear missiles — and the reactions of the employees matched — yes, plural, as we tried twice), they didn’t mind us snapping tons of pictures, so you can enjoy Merci too. Here’s the whole slideshow, which, for my friends in retail, I especially recommend viewing in fullscreen. There are great ideas to be had. I’m now dying to open a similar shop. A girl can dream…
Merci 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris 01 42 77 00 33
Photos by kellygolightly