Explore rare photography collections and a stamp collectors' market, or go crazy for Star Trek Monopoly and Frida Kahlo effigies. These are the best shops in Paris for gadgets, games, collectables and offbeat homeware.
This tiny photography boutique is open by appointment only, but don’t let that put you off. Owner Emmanuelle Fructus has one of France’s most exciting collections of rare photography books and anonymous photos from the 19th-century to today – a veritable art gallery unto itself and must for photography lovers, or anyone looking for something fun to put on the wall or coffee table. As time goes by, photos change hands, and the names of the people in the images, and indeed of the photographers themselves, are frequently forgotten. This is where Emmanuelle steps in, unearthing thought-provoking images of folks unknown to give them a new lease of life in her boutique. And she’s certainly got an eye for art: Every photo, be it a 1950s bathing scene or a turn-of-the-century family portrait, exudes something so eye-catching it could be in a museum. Un livre - une image also lends its walls to contemporary artists (like Céline Duval, Philippe Jusforgues, Coco Fronsac and Valentine Fournier) who use anonymous photography in their work.
If geeks had their own shop in paradise, it might look like Amusement, the Gaîté Lyrique’s ‘creative-shop’ (Paris’s avant-garde digital arts centre) selling everything from Star Trek Monopoly and Rubik’s cube mats to old-school Polaroid cameras and wacky electronic key-rings and memory sticks. The cherry on the cake, however, is the personalized video game service. Tell the team what games you like and they’ll make a new one just for you (pre-order at firstname.lastname@example.org)! The shop also houses an ‘objects of the future’ exhibition, showing prototypes of tomorrow’s inventions (think new musical instruments and robots).
Effigies of Frida Kahlo, wrestling masks, floral printed fabrics, woolen ponchos, Jesus and Mary fridge magnets, lucky skeleton charms and hand-painted ceramics from San Caterina Palopo. No, you’re not living a weird Latino dream, you’re in Tienda Esquipulas, a small boutique in the heart of Montmartre, dedicated to supporting Mexican and Guatemalan artisans. Each item has been hand picked by the shop’s owner, Ana, and represents her vision of modern popular culture in Latin America. Whether you collect quirky knickknacks, or just fancy adding colour to your wardrobe, pop by for a mooch – it’s like a journey without the jetlag.
Homeware heaven: there's even a Bricolage Café with internet access. Upper floors have a good range of men's outdoor wear, upmarket bed linen, toys, books, household appliances - and a large space devoted to every type of storage utility. If you're into art and crafts, you'll find an extensive painting and collage section; and those into DIY will be in workman's heaven in the basement.
Every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, free your inner geek at the Marché aux Timbres (stamp market) on the Champs Elysées (corner of avenues Gabriel and Marigny). Aside from millions of stamps from across the world, you’ll find old postcards – some with hand written messages, others simply yellowed by the passing of time. Stamp collecting is serious business in France, so expect lots of professionals scouring the stalls, as well as parents with children looking for something special to treasure. The market also opens on most bank holidays.