A Gum Tree Guide to Paris…

Bonjour Everyone,

I’m back from an amazing trip to Paris, it couldn’t have been better.  I’m feeling energized and inspired, and I think you’ll see that at Gum Tree in the coming months.

I often have people ask where I’ve stayed, shopped, and eaten…so I thought I’d put together a Gum Tree Guide to Paris for you.  I’ve also posted it to our Gum Tree Blog!  It will live there forever so you can reference it whenever you’re planning your next trip to the City of Lights.

I should start by telling you that I was not alone on my adventure, my dear friend, shopping partner, and trusted mentor, BJ Gedney was my partner in crime.  I worked for BJ and her husband Bill for 7 years at their wonderful company, Hat Attack, and in that time we did quite a few of these trips for inspiration.  It is thanks to her planning and prodding that I took this trip, so thank you BJ!  It was a quick one, 5 days including travel time…but we fit a whole lot in…

Stay…
We stayed in a little one bedroom apartment, with the world’s most comfortable pull out bed, right on the banks of the River Seine just opposite the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Here’s the view from our apartment window…

You can check out the AirBnB listing here…
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/52550?euid=f3ffe222-d4da-950f-f0c0-9c43e57a6834

It’s location was amazing, just between the Pont Neuf and Pont St. Michel.  Key to why we picked this location was the St. Michel Metro/RER station that sits just outside the apartment door.
I took the RER train directly from the airport to the St. Michele stop, an easy 30 minute trip that you can’t beat for 9 Euros!  St. Michel is a big metro hub as well, so you can get anywhere you need to go from here.  The place would comfortably fit 4 people, I would even consider it for my family, it had a little tiny elevator for luggage too!

The apartment sits between the two key neighborhoods that we love to shop and eat in…The Marais and St. Germain.

A couple of other hotel options we’ve stayed at in the past that we loved…both in the beautiful St. Germain neighborhood on our favorite street, Rue St. Sulpice.
Hotel Louis 2
Hotel Odeon St. Germain

Shopping…
Day 1…The Marais
I landed around noon and got to the apartment about 2:30…dazed and confused from very little sleep on the flight.  We headed straight out toward The Marais neighborhood.  Just across the Pont St. Michele we walked toward Rue de Rivoli and took a right.  Rue de Rivoli has many of the great french fast fashion chain stores including my new favorite Oysho.  It’s like a combination activewear/loungewear/sleepwear/lingere store.  It’s where I found the adorable kitty cat slippers you’ll see in the photos below.

We took a left on Rue du Temple and wandered around all the great little streets on our way to our ultimate destination… Merci.  Merci has been featured on every design blog I follow, and I was dying to see it.  It’s a beautiful shop full of everything from clothing and accessories to housewares, and amazing jewelry.  Incredibly well edited, it did not disappoint.  The little red car sits near the entrance to the shop in a beautiful courtyard.


Other notable shops we popped into were Gag & Lou, a darling little jewelry shop andL’Eclaireur, a high end fashion concept shop worth taking a look at just for their wild decor.  If you have kids to shop for, you must stop into a Bonton.  It’s a gorgeous kids lifestyle store that carries everything from clothing to toys to bedding, just beautiful.

Now remember, we started at 2:30 and shops close at 7…I’m sure we could have spent another 2 days in The Marais, and in fact BJ did while I was at the show… a couple of her favorite clothing stores that I missed are Shine and Surface to Air.  You can also find all the big fashion houses in the neighborhood, and it’s always fun to dream in Chloe and Valentino!

BJ also made it to the world famous Colette.  Not in the Marais, but on Rue de Honore.  I can’t believe I missed it this trip, but there was just not enough time.

Shopping…
Day 2…St. Germain
This is our old favorite shopping neighborhood, we shopped here for years before the Marais even became a destination, and it felt as fresh as ever!

Start at the intersection of Rue St. Sulpice and Rue de Seine and walk toward the Cathedral of St. Sulpice.  It took us about 3 hours to get down this two block stretch!  Vanessa Bruno has a beautiful 2 level shop, (why didn’t I buy that jumper?).  There’s an outpost of my favorite Japanese shop Muji which sells everything from tiny staplers and pens, to really well priced basic but cool clothing.  Antik Batik is always a favorite for bohemian beaded and embroidered looks, (why didn’t I buy that bag?) along with American Vintage, classics with a french twist that are well priced, and a beautiful little jewelry store Claire Naa.  Claire’s lovely mom helped us, I’m working on bringing her line to Gum Tree, stay tuned.

I was blown away by one store in particular called Mes Demoiselles.  The merchandising was incredible, the colors were just so beautiful, the 4 rugs layered on the floor were to die for.  It was fabulous.  Here are some pics…

Oh, how I wish it would get chilly, so I could throw on one of those pale grey sweaters…

Swing a right on Rue Mabillon for another two amazing shops right next to each other.  Sandra Seraf is one of the most well edited women’s clothing stores ever, absolutely beautiful, well priced jewelry and higher priced clothing, lots of beautiful Isabel Marant here, along with some lesser known French brands.  The children’s shop just next door, Laurette, is full of modern yet whimsical decor, and great gifts.

Head to Rue du Four, swing a left, and stop into Patrick Gerard, another spot-on clothing store.  Then swing another left onto Rue des Canettes and hop into Aridza Bross, which looks a little wacky and disheveled, but has great affordable finds.  These last two streets are also littered with inexpensive shoe stores, where you can find really well priced classic leather sandals, ballet flats and boots.

It was a productive day for me…here’s the evidence…

Sunday Morning trip to the Flea Market
I never take a trip to Paris without stopping at the quaint little flea market at Porte de Vanves. It’s a bit outside the center of town, but still an easy 15-20 minute metro ride.  It’s small and manageable and you can find so many wonderful little treasures.   For me it would be torture to walk one of those big famous markets, with all that antique furniture that I would never be able to get home…I prefer to collect tiny treasures and artwork at this little market that easily fits in my suitcase.

Some of the Treasures of the day…

Eat and Drink…and Drink…
There’s nothing like a good baguette with butter and jam to start your day, or a pain au chocolate for that matter!  When in France I do not deprive myself of bread in all it’s forms, just go with it.  There are endless beautiful bakeries in Paris, but when in doubt you can always stop at Paul, a french bakery chain that’s been operating since 1889, with lots of locations and delicious quiche too.  And don’t forget about the crepes!

We did start one day with a true sit down breakfast at an old classic Le Danton.  It’s on the way to our St. Sulpice shopping destination, on Boulevard St. Germain, and the Croque Madame, fresh squeezed orange juice and espresso hit the spot.

Same goes for the end of the day, no holding back, we drink lots and lots of French wine…this trip was all about the Cotes du Rhone.

We had some wonderful dinners on this trip…
Le Caveau du Palais
At 17 Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cite, this restaurant sits on a quiet 17th century courtyard.  The lettuce in our Cesar salad was finely shredded and served with little tiny croutons that melted in your mouth.  God only knows how long they soak those little croutons in butter, or duck fat, or whatever to make them taste like that!  Again, try not to think about it.  Dinner was the classic Steak Frites and it did not disappoint.  Apple tart for dinner, we went traditional this evening and it was wonderful.

La Palette
This evening we went the charcuterie and wine route, with lots of crusty french bread of course.  Tucked on a tiny street near our apartment at 43 Rue de Seine, we were surrounded by locals puffing cigarettes (yuck, but this is Paris and everyone smokes) and the food was divine.

Au Bon Accueil
This is a tiny restaurant situated on a quiet little side street, with a killer view of the Eiffel Tower.  The food is impeccable, it’s  said to be the favorite Parisian restaurant of Ina Garten, you know, the Barefoot Contessa?  Well we loved it, in fact this is the second time I’ve been to this restaurant and it was fantastic.  Those tiny croutons showed up again, this time in a cold cauliflower soup, delicious.  Sitting outside we were treated to the twinking light show on the Eiffel Tower that takes place every evening at 9pm…magic.

Another one of our favorite restaurants that we missed this time is Le Machon d’Henri.  It’s always casual and packed and loud and delicious.

The Show-Maison & Objet…
Well I’m here to tell you that I have seen a lot of shows, but nothing I’ve ever seen compares to this.  It was huge, gigantic, completely overwhelming.  Also absolutely beautiful and totally inspiring.

Here’s a shot of a tiny part of one of the 8 halls…see those big letters hanging down, well this one hall had rows A-Z…

There were clear themes that stood out for me as I walked and walked for 3 straight days…It turns out that I love everything Danish, who knew?

Stars are on everything!  From leather goods, to baby bedding, to jewelry, to housewares, it was really fresh and fun.  

Lots of natural wood mixed with copper and brass and white stood out in the home decor section.

This photo just about sums it up…what a beautiful display!

I ordered everything I loved…and we’ll just have to see if my new European friends decide to ship me!  I got a lot of “not really sure how to ship the the US” comments, but fingers crossed we will have boxes and boxes of beautiful things arriving in a couple of short weeks!

So that’s it, my Paris guide for you.  I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you get to take a trip to this magical city soon.

Merci to you for reading it!

We’ll see you all at Gum Tree,

Think Globally, Shop and Eat Locally!
Lori Ford