'An independent boutique offering exceptional design objects created by people with a story to tell' in the words of owner Fiona Cameron, Storie is a tiny, open space bathed in light a few steps from the Montparnasse Tower. It's stocked with lightbulb-shaped vases, patterned cushions, pewter picture frames: everything needed to add a touch of luxury to a home. At the back of the shop you'll also find a fine selection of jewellery. Rings carved in jasper by Vanessa Dubbs, industrial lamps saved by Cyril Bonnifet, linen bags by SUD (from €25), silk scarves woven on a traditional loom (€145) – many lovely creations fill this anti-IKEA where each piece of furniture, every piece of porcelain, each metre of silk has been carefully selected. The prices may be high, but quality is guaranteed.
Former stylist Patricia Wang creates looks from the practical to the chic to the unexpected in her boutique, stocked with the creations of European designers. Every season, new names appear: elegant Danes, offbeat Spaniards, dreamy Brits, all creating beautiful clothes. Patricia happily offers advice and has built a roster of regulars who are happy to take her recommendations as to what suits them (and their husbands often come seeking gift suggestions). ‘When I’m choosing a piece, I try to imagine in what way it could be worn,’ explains Patricia. Is it for a young girl? An active woman? Ultimately, it all depends on the person in front of me – I dress all women, from 16-year-old adolescents up to ladies of 72.’
Anne-Cécile Zitter and her and cohorts cleverly mix leather, textiles and paper to create Japanese-influenced rings, necklaces, bracelet, headbands and more. Japan also comes through in the clothing fabrics, with skirts and blouses studded with bits of origami-style colour. Exceptional couturiers, they also propose classic basics, with ’20s-style jackets and coats, sportswear (sweatshirts with lace trims), fancy knitwear and bags. The biggest pieces don’t exceed €200 and you can even pick some items up for as little as one or two euros.
If Hansel and Gretel had a cake shop in Paris it might look like Bogato (a name that sounds like ‘beau gateau’ in French, as in ‘pretty cake’). Everything here is about temptation, from the quaint wooden furniture to pastry chef Anaïs Olmer’s brightly coloured cupcakes, towering under glass bells on the counter like sugary art installations. There are crunchy butter biscuits, smooth Nutella tarts, cherry cheesecakes, chocolate-coated marshmallows, and even Cheshire Cat shortbread biscuits with an edible rice paper smile. Eat in or take out; and if you like what you’ve scoffed, sign up for a baking class where you can learn how to make Bogato’s gooey macaroons, cream filled ‘choux’ or sugary cupcakes. Lessons are available for adults (€58) and children (26€). Call for details.
Located right in the middle of the bustling Rue Daguerre, you can't miss the lemon-yellow frontage of La Cave des Papilles. The owner, a lover of 'natural' wine, has been operating in Paris for 16 years, and of the 1200 wines on offer, 80% are produced organically, while the rest are more traditional. The owner knows each supplier personally, most of them independent French wine growers (Frédéric Cossard in Burgundy, la Maison Pierre Overnoy in the Jura and Jean-Yves Perron in Savoy, to name a few). Lovers of bubbles can find a good selection of champagnes (e.g. Emmanuel Lassaigne, or a very sought after one by Vincent Laval), plus magnums and spirits (whiskies, cognacs, armagnacs). La Cave des Papilles itself has a hand in certain vintages, particularly during the blending stage (l’assemblage), producing bottles under the Cave des Papilles brand. It's not outrageously priced either: with a choice of 60 to 80 bottles between €3 and €10 Euros, even the strapped for cash will leave happy.
Rammed with outlets, the Rue de Rennes was once the stomping ground of grumpy shoppers with blistered feet who had to elbow their way past the shopping-bag-bearing hordes. But this busy artery has since benefited from a pavement widening project which has almost doubled the pedestrian space. But even if it is now less crowded out on the street, it's impossible to say the same thing of the inside of Sophie Sacs during the sales. The boutique doesn’t owe its notoriety to its longevity alone (it was opened in 1976), but also to its year-round rock-bottom prices. It offers a plethora of bags to choose from: handbags, shoulderbags, backpacks, leatherbags, fabric bags – all in a space reminiscent of a Middle Eastern souk. However narrow its corridors may be, all of Paris comes here to dig up supple leather bags by Nat & Nin, waterproof Eastpaks or other treasures.
If the right bank has all the places for going out, the left bank is unrivalled for its plentiful supply of bookshops. From the mythical Hune to the unavoidable Divan, they are everywhere, from Saint Germain to Convention. Opened in 2006, two steps from Pernety metro, Les Minots is no ordinary bookshop. Specialised in children’s literature, it also offers a multitude of toys including the very useful 'Birthday box', a sort of survival kit for disorganised parents. With its ephemeral shop window displays, its precise catalogue and numerous workshops, Linda Ornano’s shop is one of the liveliest addresses in the area and the perfect place to introduce children to the pleasure of reading.
Madame de… takes its name from the 1951 Max Ophüls film, in which the Parisian heroine is forced to pawn her beloved diamond earrings, causing all kinds of trouble. Nothing so dark here, just a delightful second hand shop where owner Armelle Franz reassures her customers that ‘I make it a point of honour only to select pieces that are like new’. And indeed, leather bags glow and there are no loose threads on the knitwear – even better, the prices wouldn’t look out of place in the sales. A taupe Vanessa Bruno bag for €187, APC jeans for €66, a checked Zara dress for €40. For retro décor fans, Armelle also stocks homeware treasures – an art deco carafe with smoked glass goblets at €88, a vintage sewing machine, a Kodak Senior n°1 projector…