Shopping in Canal St-Martin, Ourcq and Villette

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Potemkine

If you know what the name ‘Potemkine’ refers to (Russian cineaste Sergueï Eisenstein’s 1925 silent movie “The Battleship Potemkin”), chances are this boutique just off the Canal St-Martin is for you. Its orderly walls are lined with shelves laden with DVDs covering everything from Fellini classics to rare experimental films by Stan Brakhage, and docu-dramas by Peter Watkins. In this age of virtual downloads, Potemkine is the antidote for film buffs in need of something to hold: Pick up the DVDs, read their blurbs, sniff ‘em, caress them, and study the graphics on their covers without the flickering of a computer screen playing on your eyes.  It makes a refreshing change to FNAC; and many of the films on sale aren’t even readily available on the high-street.

  1. 30 rue Beaurepaire, 11th
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Pop Market

  • Price band: 1/4

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.

  1. 50 rue Bichat, 10e
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Antoine et Lili

Antoine et Lili's fuchsia-pink, custard-yellow and apple-green shopfronts are a new raver's dream. The bobo designer's clothes, often in wraparound styles, adapt to all sizes and shapes. The Canal St-Martin 'village' comprises womenswear, a kitsch home decoration boutique and childrenswear.Other locations throughout the city.

  1. 95 quai de Valmy, 10e
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Le Centre Commercial

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

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.

  1. 2 rue de Marseille, 10e
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Médecine Douce

  • Price band: 2/4

In the same genre as its neighbours Chez Prune, Maje, A.P.C. and Claude Pierlot, Medicine Douce doesn’t upset the neighbourhood’s balance of hip elegance. Inside, white and grey walls and a total absence of decoration put the spotlight on the jewellery, all designed by Marie Montaud, who launched her brand in 2000 but didn’t have her own boutique until 2007, once she was already well known. Her quick success is thanks to her delicate gold jewellery mixed with pastel colours, discreet but remarkable. The prices aren’t insane given the materials and the largely Parisian manufacture – necklaces and bracelets start at around €80.

  1. 10 rue de Marseille, 10e
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Ethicando

  • Price band: 2/4

Ethicando, moments from the Canal Saint-Martin, mixes quality Italian food and clothing with social justice for victims of the Italian mafia. Many of their food products come from land confiscated from criminals, while bags and t-shirts are guaranteed made by Italian convicts as part of their rehabilitation into society. On the restaurant side, the organic food costs around €5 for a starter and €10 for a main.

  1. 6 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 10e
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Balibaris

  • Price band: 3/4

In three years, the Rue de Marseille in the 10th arrondissement transformed into a playground for fashion victims. Between A.P.C., Le Centre Commercial, Petites and Claudie Pierlot, it’s a hotbed of trendy chic. Balibaris is reserved for blokes in the know, offering a fantastic selection of clothes at prices that aren't cheap, but also not extortionate given the quality of the materials and the fact that most of the pieces are handmade in France. Small but packing a lot of punch, this concept store stocks scarves, shirts, jumpers, elegant trousers and excellent film-themed t-shirts featuring works by David Lynch, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen and Claude Chabrol. Still on the cinema theme, there are a range of glossy books, and umbrellas worthy of Cherbourg.

  1. 14 rue de Marseille, 10e
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Maison DoDuDinDon

  • Price band: 2/4

'Sometimes kids spend a whole afternoon here mucking around in the playhouse,' DoDuDinDon's owner tells us. This sums up the ethos of this bright new emporium, which draws kids and adults alike with its welcoming vibe and stacks of toys, teddies, clothes and other miscellany just waiting to be browsed through. On the one hand, you have pointed-collar blazers (€59) and baggy trackies (€35); on the other, wooden blocks, board games and cuddly soft toys. Major brands (Haba, Djeco, Gotoy) are displayed alongside smaller names (Oh c'est beau, Grain de sel). It's enough to keep the little ones busy for hours; and it case it isn't, you can plonk them in said playhouse while you continue to indulge your latent fondness for beanie babies.

  1. 3 rue Alexandre Parodi, 10e
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Music Please

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

As welcoming as it is well-stocked, Music Please has been selling quality vinyl to the Belleville locals for nigh on a decade now. As with any good generalist record store, the collection runs the gamut of genres, from old-school hip hop to prog rock. Vinyl dominates, but iPod-owning Millennials are catered for with CDs and associated hardware. Running through it all is an emphasis on quality albums picked by staff, and sold at reasonable prices – as the personable owner tells us, 'This isn't an art gallery.' Quite right: Music Please is a decent, unpretentious music store, and all the better for it.

  1. 5 rue Jean Moinon, 10e
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Machicadou

  • Price band: 2/4

The name sounds like the kind of word a French Mary Poppins might dream up – an appropriate association for this endearingly ramshackle workshop-cum-secondhand clothes boutique by the Canal Saint-Martin. Owner Camille scours the flea markets of Paris in search of unwanted threads, which she then customises into something else entirely: short-sleeved jumpers studded with buttons and blue pompons (€59), necklaces stitched from leather fragments (€49), you name it. The concept is at once eco-friendly and wholly original; what's more, by stocking young up-and-coming designers (Lezelles, Cam Dup) alongside Camille's products, Machicadou avoids descending into all-out vintage whimsy.Before you leave, make sure to head down the corridor at the back of the shop. It leads to a small adjoining room that the folk at Like a Rolling Store have stuffed with miscellaneous tatter: postcards, belts and the like. It's a perfect complement to the oddball 'grandma's attic' vibe next door.

  1. 165 quai de Valmy, 10e
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Tholoniat

  • Price band: 1/4

In business since either 1938 or the 19th century (nobody's quite sure), this patisserie-cum-chocolate shop in any case has an old-fashioned rustic charm to it. No concessions to fashion or contemporary food trends (lovers of organic need not apply); at Tholoniat, the action happens in the kitchen, whence impossibly crisp baguettes and tongu-tinglingly tasty confectionery are churned out on a daily basis. The varieties of chocolate – Cointreau, almond – should keep your tastebuds busy, the darkest clocking in at 68% cocoa. But the pièce de résistance is the semi-freddo: a cake consisting of a custard base, warm caramel and nougat centre and sponge topping, which is worth the trip in itself.

  1. 47 rue du Château d'Eau, 10e
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