BN Paris

By Irene Fogarty

It’s Fall here. Leaves are falling and that lovely sunny yet chilly climate has set in. And unlike New York, it’s still bright here up until 7-ish pm. Love that! But I’m not here to go on about the beauty of Fall in Paris. In fact, I’m going to tell you about a new shop I’ve discovered. You see I just moved from the 3rd arrondissement, the Marais to the 11th (Metro: Oberkampf) and literally on my way to my new quartier, I not only discovered another part of Paris that I like even better, (less touristy, less expensive, less expected), I found Merci. To call it a “shop” is a complete insult. Read on and you’ll discover why. And let me just add, if you happen to splurge here, you’ll not only be thrilled with what you buy, you’ll always feel it was money well spent. Not that you ever need to justify your purchases, right?!

Thank God for “Merci”!

Paris is known for its concept stores. Home to the renowned Colette.fr, what makes concept stores different here, is that they surprise, entertain and always offer goods that are usually unattainable anywhere else. Now there’s a new contender (well it’s been around since March ’09) on the block. It’s simply called Merci. Located at the eastern end of the Marias on boulevard Beaumarchais, it’s the latest project from Bonpoint owners, Marie-France and Bernard Cohen.

Make an entrance

Even before you step into the sunlit 19th-century1,500 sqm fabric factory, you’ll be amused by the three theatrical ways to make your big entrance. The central entrance follows a quiet courtyard which leads to the shop’s alarming red Fiat Cinquecento, while the side entrances take you through dark, quiet rooms – one a florist full of roses, wild cow parsley and echinacea, the other a bookish café with second-hand books from floor to ceiling like a snug reading room – perfect to bring out that bookworm in you! Read the classics or the latest novel with a lemonade! I swear you’ll forget where you are!

Once inside, you’ll be surrounded by the mesmerizing merchandise. Be sure to take a look into that old-fashioned overflowing trunk. You never know what you’ll find. But Merci offers more than clothes. From fashion to furniture, books to interior design, and much more, there are three loft-like floors full of nooks and crannies, to fascinate you. What I like is the way it’s all organized yet seems thrown together. Deliberately showcasing the old with the new, you can find a vintage baseball jacket next to slinky contemporary off the shoulder dress by Stella McCartney.

That’s not all. The real beauty of Merci is that they’ve taken the trend of retailer responsibility to a new level. Listen to this. Merci gives all (not a per cent, ALL) its profits to charity, specifically to its own foundation that currently helps deprived children in Madagascar. And the good feeling of generosity has inspired suppliers to give something too. Like Drucker, manufacturer of the prolific café chair who designed a special series of adorable candy-colored wicker chairs just for the store. Others have produced limited editions or re-editions – Helmut Lang has reprised a classic tuxedo jacket with a reduced wholesale price. And others just plain donate. Giving that goes around.

Thanks to Merci, charity has never looked so beautiful. Now don’t you feel better about your future splurging there?

MERCI, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais – 3rd, Open daily Monday to Saturday 10am-8pm,
METRO: Saint Sébastien Froissard

A Savoir:

L’eau de France.

The French aren’t just big wine lovers, they also love water. In fact they love it so much they consume about 40 gallons of bottled water per person each year! Not one of the highest per capita amounts not only in Europe, but also in the world.

Originally published October 2010
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