13 Stores to Shop in Paris’ Haut-Marais

The Haut-Marais street scene.
Children’s shop, Bonton.
Merci’s home goods.

Paris’ New Now Neighborhood

Working-class Haut-Marais has transformed into one of the city’s most stylish enclaves.

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By Ellise Pierce
Photography By Krista Rossow
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Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, January 2015.

Not long ago, the northern part of Paris’ third arrondissement – the Haut-Marais, or upper Marais – seemed all but forgotten. When the nobles moved out of the neighborhood in the nineteenth century, the working class moved in. Until recently, you’d find clothing wholesalers and a couple of outlets, but not much more. Today, boutiques, bistros, coffee shops, and galleries fill the twisted, narrow streets, along with a new sort of nobility, the young (and not-so) fashionistas – not a pair of yoga pants on anyone. Here’s a baker’s dozen of our favorite Haut-Marais haunts.
 
1. Merci
An ever-changing mix of fashions for men, women, and home, this profits-for-charity concept store is the neighborhood’s anchor. The constant is style: classic Duralex bistro glasses, Majestic tees, Fiorentini + Baker boots, and its own private-label linen sheets. Après shopping, order orange cake and detox tea in its coffee shop and library.
 
2. Leon & Harper
From soft organic tees with falling stars to denim-style jackets in leather the color of Normandy butter, the vibe here is youthful and fun. For proof, just peek at the Doors’ lyrics label – “Hello, I love you, can you tell me your name?” – sewn into every garment.

3. A.P.C.
If you don’t want to break in your Japanese-made blue jeans (bought stiff, then never washed), no worries. You can pay a few euros more for this French denim label’s Butler series of the same style – jeans that have been worn, whiskered, then washed by former owners. Think Levi’s 501s, but more fitted, with a slightly lower waist for women and legs that narrow like carrots.
 
4. Bonton
This is the place for weekend and vacation wear for the preteen set – puffy cotton miniskirts, railroad-stripe denim shorts, tanks, and even an “I Love My Family” tee. Don’t miss the nail polish vending machine.
 
5. Cuisse de Grenouille
Pick up chinos in faded blues, reds, and greens and “Surf in Paris” tees at this men’s boutique created by Parisian surfer brothers Séverin and Luca Bonnichon, who design the California-style basics themselves. Vans sneakers, puffy vests, and mid-thigh swim trunks – “For the gentleman surfer” reads the back of their business card.
 
6. Fondation
One of the city’s newest coffee shops – and at just 46 square feet, one of the smallest. Stop in for a double café crème and an oversize chocolate-chip-and-oatmeal cookie. Take one of the few seats inside, underneath the Chemex-laden shelves, or ask for emporter and sip as you go. 16 rue Dupetit-Thouars.
 
7. Clasico Argentino
For a quick and easy refuel, this spot offers fast food, Argentine-style: empanadas stuffed with tuna, ham, and cheese; spinach and cheese; or beef, served with a piquant sauce in a cozy corner space painted baby blue. Order a half dozen or a dozen to share, with a bottle of Malbec too. 56 rue de Saintonge; 33-1/4461-0056.

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8. Isabel Marant
This shop’s Boho-meets-American-West aesthetic has won fans from stylish Parisiennes to Heidi Klum and Sienna Miller. It’s easy to see why. Here you’ll find beaded moccasin booties, chambray shirts with torn ruffles, quilted jeans, and knitted mini dresses – comfy-chic pieces for any day of the week.
 
9. Comme des Garçons
This pocket store is a slip of a place with basics for men, women, and children from the Play line – marinières in green, blue, and black stripes; Chuck Taylor-inspired tennis shoes; classic hoodies and white tees – all with the brand’s signature embroidered cartoon heart. 31 rue Debelleyme; 33-1/4272-1512.

10. Rose Bakery
The charm of this bakery’s second Paris location (there are now four, plus out-posts in New York, London, and Asia) is that it feels slightly undone, with boxes of produce haphazardly stacked against the walls and pastry chefs at work on the day’s cakes, tarts, and super-tall carrot cakes right in front. Arrive early if you want one of its famed square quiches, stuffed with whatever veggies are fresh and just-roasted that day. 30 rue Debelleyme; 33-1/4996-5401.

11. Le Labo
A tiny perfume store resembling a turn-of-the-century pharmacy, this spot sells fragrances made to order in its lab in the back. If you can’t decide between leathery Santal 33 and beachy Neroli 36, buy a sample vial, then order online when you’re back home.
 
12. Valentine Gauthier
This Parisian designer launched her youthful brand in 2007; her atelier is in the Marais store. From snow leopard-print calfskin boots to bulky cardigans, short-shorts and miniskirts, the aesthetic is refreshingly simple – everything goes with everything, even if you think it doesn’t.
 
13. Jacques Genin
Stop in here, one of the city’s top chocolatiers, for a 150-gram sack of grignotines, crunchy bundles of grilled almonds, raisins, and orange zest enrobed in dark or milk chocolate. Or have a seat in its tea salon, skip the tea altogether, and go for a pot of thick chocolat chaud and a mille-feuille (“thousand leaves”), made to order and assembled with bits of chocolate, praliné, or vanilla crème between crisp pastry leaves – even if there’s not a thousand of them, we love it.

(*Krista Rossow photos: Haut-Marais street, Bonton, Jacques Genin, and Merci.)

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