As you know by now, we were staying in Le Marais area of Paris during our recent trip, which is an area rich in culture.
From Tuesday to Sunday there is an open air market in the area called Marche Des Enfants Rouges which is similar to Borough Market in London, although a little smaller, and has become widely known for it’s excellent street style food, mainly originating from North Africa.
The market starts the day about 11.00am and by lunchtime it is heaving with locals and workers all lining up for lunch. As well as the market selling fresh produce, the periphery is filled with a jumble of tables and chairs where you can sit and eat, drink freshly pressed juices, mint tea or strong moroccan coffee. It’s a great place to people watch and the sounds, sights and smells are fantastic.
As well as food, there is also a small flower stall and an amazing vintage photography shop, selling old prints, cameras, shop signs and all kinds of typography. The range of prints available for sale is vast, starting with old polaroids for 10€ which you can flick through outside to more expensive framed prints inside which range up to 200€.
After the market we walked through Le Marais, browsing at the many shops until we found Merci, which is a concept store that I have wanted to visit for years.
The store is housed in a beautiful old building, which was formerly a fabric factory and is entered through a courtyard. For any readers who know of Merci, you will be familiar with the vintage red cinquecento car which is parked at the entrance to the store and has become synonymous with their branding. The people behind Merci know a lot about branding as well, they were the couple who owned the well known French childrens label Bonpoint, until they sold it for an undisclosed amount, allowing them to establish the store they had dreamed about for so long, with all profits going to childrens charities. The merchandise is a mixture of their own label, second hand clothing and donated objects from celebrities, designers and writers. The aim of the store is to minimise waste and donate to charity.
Merci is however, a lifestyle store, selling beautiful clothes, homewares, toiletries and gifts, as well as having a restaurant and coffee shop. It was in the coffee shop that we decided to have lunch, as it is set within the reused book department, so feels like sitting in a traditional library, with floor to ceiling bookshelves, an eclectic mix of furniture and beautiful coloured glass vintage chandeliers. Many of the books have been donated by writers and can be read whilst whiling away an hour or two, or bought for a few euros. The food, as you would expect from the people behind Merci, is all fresh, healthy and delicious and the drinks are served in beautiful chunky recycled glasses. In a nutshell attention to detail is given to everything. We ate mint and pea soup and smoke salmon and avocado bagels, accompanied by white wine and the company of a lovely lady from London, Carole who joined our table. Hello Carole if you’re reading this?
Even the toilets walls are papered with inspirational images and quotes, every area and surface has been given a thought provoking design statement.
I was not disappointed with my visit to Merci and was only sorry that I couldn’t buy the beautiful nude pink linen bedding they sell, as we had only checked hand luggage onto our flight. Fortunately though, they have a great online store and everything is available for international postage, so maybe that bedding will find itself in Chez Barlow?