The 100 best shops in Paris – Concept stores

Thousands of quirky gift and clothing ideas

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Les Fleurs
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10 brilliant concept boutiques

French Touche

Bags adorn the walls, trinkets sit atop small wooden shelves, and lamps are dotted around the room – French Touche is a shop where one could happily rummage for hours. Nestled in the heart of the 17th arrondissement for the past decade, this 'gallery of touching objects' is one of the first concept stores in the capital (alongside the prestigious and expensive Colette). Dreamed up by the lovely Valérie, it's teeming with original creations: from retro knitted cat badges (Severina Kids) to Beatles patches and micro-notebook keychains. 'I try to choose products from designers who aren’t widely known and for whom I have a true passion. Like these hand-painted ceramics by Maud Salançon,' says Valérie. At the back of the store is a pleasing selection of clothing, boots and crockery which unearthed from antique stores. 'And vinyl is coming soon,' she adds enthusiastically. We'll be back.

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17th arrondissement

SoWeAre

Paris has concept stores in spades. The city seems to specialise in boutiques that smell of scented candles, where you go to buy glitzy jewellery and sparkly scarves. SoWeAre is very much in this vein: this is where the young and trendy come to stock up on pretty scarves, kooky mugs, and of course clothing. So what sets it apart from the crowd?You'll see from the moment you set foot inside the shop. SoWeAre does a very good job of spicing up its displays with a couple of eccentric touches, such as humourous window displays and a wall-mounted 'mood board'. A cursory look around the displays will reveal some interesting brands too: designer footwear by Patricia Blanchet (€270 for a pair of boots), Cosh 'ear necklaces' (€55), Nümph shirts (€60). Complementing these is a decent range of cheap curios – we couldn't resist the model of the trombone-playing rabbit. Not one for light wallets, but the place to go if you're tired of run-of-the-mill accessories.

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11th arrondissement

Le Centre Commercial

The idea of a commerical centre might not appeal to fans of concept boutiques, but don’t speak too soon – Centre Commerical in the Rue de Marseille (alongside APC, Maje and Claudie Pierlot) will thrill fans of quality fashion. The shop's founders also created Veja, the famous brand of hip, affordable trainers. Sébastien Kopp, one of the co-founders, has embraced a socially and ecologically conscious type of fashion for trendy youngsters; however annoying young hipsters might be, at least they don’t buy ‘made in China’.Inside the beautifully designed space, where you never have to jostle between two clothes racks, you'll find brands from the 'made in France' movement including Bleu de Paname, Repetto, St. James or Roseanna, and other well-known sustainable labels like Veja, Valentine Gauthier (the future Isabel Marant, according to rumours) or Christine Phung, winner of the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris 2011 for her work with traditional artisans and fair trade projects in partnership with humanitarian organisations in Cambodia.

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Canal Saint Martin

French Trotters

The new French Trotters flagship store occupies no less that 200 chic square metres, just down from the road from the old boutique at 116 Rue Vieille du Temple. It brings together all facets of the store that was originally created in 2005 by Carole and Clarent Dehlouz – including trendy bath products (candles, soap and shower gel), linen, furniture and stacks of magazines on photography, decoration, fashion and gardening. But French Trotters’s heart remains in its clothing boutique, full of great pieces from respected designers and quality workshops in Denmark, Brazil, India and France – and including the fabulous French Trotters own line, knitted in Brittany. Look out for boots by Avril Gau, high heels from Michel Vivien, Opening Ceremony shoes, Veja trainers, bags by Jérôme Dreyfuss, Acne jeans, rare and beautiful shirts from Commune de Paris, tops from American Vintage and knitwear from Flippa K. The prices aren’t exactly high street, but this is stuff built with care, and to last.

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Pop Market

You might not know what you're looking for when you walk in to Pop Market, but you always walk out with armfuls of goodies. Small animal figurines for a nephew, some beautiful stationery for yourself, badges to pin on a jacket or a bright decoration for the living room. This a concept store like many others in Paris, the difference being that it’s large enough for one to spend a good half an hour in without bumping into anyone. You’ll find all the same designers as elsewhere: fine Titlee gold jewellery, sophisticated Clémence Cabanes cufflinks, or humorous patches signed Macon et Lesquoy. To mix things up a bit, the owners occasionally organise book signings and showcases behind their candy pink shopfront.

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10th arrondissement

La Fausse Boutique

As its name suggests, La Fausse Boutique (The False Boutique) is an unusual spot – half-office, half-retail store. Unlike most shops which find themselves labelled as 'concept stores', it doesn't sell designer clothing or luxury goods in the usual meaning of the terms, but rather focuses on so-called surrealist products. As such, one finds offbeat tourist guides like Paris à Gratter, (modelled on a scratchcard, where you scratch to reveal monuments) and satirical board games like Méditations Foireuses (half-assed meditations), produced by a collective of designers who work in the offices at the back of the showroom. This is a great place to find original and unique gifts.

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Démocratie

Founded in 2011, this multi-brand boutique injects a hint of underground culture into the tourist district of Saint-Michel. Sisters Kimo and Diana took over the former music and bookshop 'Silly Melody', which had been run by Kimo and her father. They have since breathed new life and a new philosophy into the place, modernising it in the style of a London or Berlin concept store.On the ground floor, you’ll find a selection of designer objects and accessories, books and magazines with a retro touch. Fashion for women and men is on the first floor, with a good selection of streetwear and brands such as Vans, Dunderdone and Be Street, but also ethnic print bags by Pendelton and trendy shoes by Jeffrey Campbell.There is, democratically, something for everyone. The biggest plus point is in the basement, a space inherited from 'Silly Melody', which continues to offer a vast and well-chosen selection of vinyl.

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6th arrondissement

Gals Rock

At the origin of Gals Rock is a group of friends and music fans who spend hours discovering new artists on Myspace. Tired of seeing boys dominate pop, rock and electronica, they decided to focus almost exclusively on women and promote those with talent by any and all means. Their headquarters and launchpad is Gals Rock, opened in 2009, ostensibly a clothing store, but not exclusively: amongst the slogan T-shirts and classy coats, the back room contains CDs and vinyl, a temple dedicated to female musicians and singers from Austra and Cat Power to The Go! Team or Patti Smith. Books, magazines and stationery on the theme complement the range, which also boasts a program of free quality live acts. It is not uncommon for guest artists to later be invited to well-known festivals like MaMA ou Les Femmes S'en Mêlent. It's not a place for anti-male prejudice, however, and men are welcome to come and buy clothes and records.

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Saint-Georges

Afwosh

The principle of Afwosh (After Work Shop) is simple: offer pretty trinkets to suit all budgets – from monstre à doigt rings (€2.50) to leather carry bags (€228) and Pac-man shaped speakers (€28.50 each). Launched four years ago by Chloe and Emilie, this shop in the Rue d'Hauteville has earned itself a fine reputation. There are big names here, including the giant of French luggage Nat & Nin, and ready-to-wear fashion (Surface to Air, See you soon), but one can also unearth objects by talented up-and-coming designers including Ccil, Lina Poum and Macon & Lesquoy. Particularly  lovely is the selection of vintage T-shirts by Junkfood, the Sardina Lomography cameras and the end-of-line department at the back of the shop which will net you a discount of around 40% on featured stock. A bargain here is almost guaranteed.

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10th arrondissement

Les Fleurs

There are two reasons to walk down passage Josset in the 12th: it’s quaint and off the beaten track; and it’s home to Les Fleurs, a girly boutique extraordinaire that drips with funky jewellery, bags, rococo mirrors and all sorts of gizmos and gadgets for little and grown up girls alike.  Owner Lucie Deniset has handpicked little-known, yet confirmed creators (like Nat&Nin, Adeline Affre and Titlee) to create a range of desirables quite unlike elsewhere in Paris – a move that has made Les Fleurs so popular, you can hardly move for the crowds, especially on Saturdays. The run up to Christmas is always a good time to shop here, when decorations and stocking-fillers abound. The boutique also stays open on Sundays in December, so you can avoid Saturday’s crush.

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12th arrondissement

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