Friday, September 25, 2009

Shopping Made By Hand in Paris

As promised, here are some of the entries that Pia Jane Bijkerk shares with us in her new book. These caught my eye and interest for a variety of reasons.

Marie Louise De Monterey: Find a hand-stitched 1920's evening slip among the vintage clothes that Maria has assembled in her shop in one of the oldest sections of Paris. French fashion from past decades is the stock and trade of this shop and you just might run into an actress searching for a frock to wear to the Cannes Film Festival. Children's clothes also catch Maria's eye, as they will yours. Pia reports that stock changes seasonally and one of the photos in the book shows shoes lined up below the fashions.

Pep's: I was delighted to follow Pia's reasoning for including an umbrella repair shop amongst her shops. "But this is Paris where repairs, alterations, craftsmanship, and restoration services have never ceased to be appreciated." No tossing broken umbrellas aside. Take the rain protector on life support to Pep's in Paris's oldest arcade. You'll enter through a wooden doorway to discover a "semi-enclosed alleyway, lovingly maintained and clad in overgrown ivy." Do not bother to break an umbrella as the ticket to admission at Pep's, you can purchase a new one from a nice selection. But if your antique parasol is showing signs of wear, you'll find the perfect place for a repair here.

Alexia Hollinger: Fabric handbags from vintage textiles is the stock you'll find in this shop, now 13 years old. When Alexia began, she was bucking the long French tradition of leather handbags. But her creativity and craftsmanship has won converts. A vintage silk scarf will be transformed to an enchanting bag by Alexia. She also creates from new fabrics, chosen with the same eye. I suspect if you visit this shop, you'll leave with a bag that suits you.

La Droguerie: Craft enthusiasts will go wild with the supplies stocked here. And even if you're not looking for beads or ribbons extraordinaire, you'll enjoy the wonderful ambiance of the shop, which was once a butcher's shop. Yarn skeins now hang from the old butcher's hooks. Feathers, twine, and spools of every kind of thread imaginable can be found in profusion.

Le Bonheur Des Dames: Here you'll find one of the biggest embroidery boutiques in France with so many kits, you're sure to find one you can't wait to tear into. The setting is contemporary with sunlight flooding into the shop. Pia says: "The company has been producing its range of products for more than thirty years." The instructions for projects come in English and many other languages. I suspect this is a citadel for embroiderers from all over the world.

Lune: Having a son with a voluminous collection of vintage ties, I was attracted to Lune. Sometimes he thins out his collection and offers orphans up to a friend who crafts from ties. Lune does it in spades with some stunning results. Oh, the belts! You might be inspired to raid a tie rack in your family to try your hand at designing in the manner of Lune. Madame Jendly makes all manner of enticing things from hats to necklaces from old ties that still have beauty. Pia calls the place "a candyland." And it seems from looking at the photos in the book and visiting the web site, she's spot on. And the boutique is not hidden in a closet--rather it's dazzling with an array of chandeliers and fairy lights.

Thanks for shopping with me, and if you'd like to share your choices from Pia's book or your own experience, please do.


  1. Gosh Nancy- these little stores do look inviting- so I took a peek inside of each, & I like the one with the ties the best.{called Lune}- I think the necklace that they made for sale, out of old buttons is an interesting idea! I like the way the headscarves are used on the models- I have an old article from a magazine I saved for various ways to tie a head-scarf. In Jamaica a lot of the Islander women use just a huge scarf or two ,& tie it in various ways as a dress.or a halter top and long wrap skirt.-I tried to do that when I was there- it worked fine, but I didn't feel confident enough to not have my swimsuit underneath it,just in case. warmly,-Valery

  2. Oh, Nancy...this is like one of your famous September France issues. What a treat! Thanks so much for this. I'll be "clipping" this to put in my notebook for my next trip to Paris! I'm going to try those tie tricks!

    Avec hugs, Karen Marline

  3. Oh, so many place in Paris to find charm! I like the shops of Village St. Paul in the shadow of St. Paul-St Louis in the Marais. Brocante, bric-a-brac, art glass, pottery, old kitchen and paper items and what my husband calls "the dross of empire," odd ivory and brass items from another time.

    On Blvd. St. Germain, Madeline Gely's umbrella shop!