The original attraction for our trip to Paris was the Marie Claire Idees Salon, but it turned out to just be a small part of a fun trip where we discovered all sorts of crafty magic. The salon was interesting but somewhat spoiled by the 45 minute wait to collect the tickets we had pre-purchased on the internet......somehow it would appear that the technology did not extend beyond the online purchase. How to collect your tickets - stand in a queue where one person for those whose surnames started with A to L and a second for people whose surnames started with M to Z and when you get to the head of the queue hand over your printed receipt and wait whilst the person scrolled through a paper copy listing all the people who ordered online - a paper copy - no computer in sight........
Anyway, we finally got into the exhibit and there were plenty of stalls and lots of people and lots to see, but somehow it just didn't quite live up to expectations....still, we spent 2 hours wandering and doing a little shopping, looking at the exhibits, getting inspiration from all that we saw.....
The rest of the trip we spent wandering the streets and shops of Paris searching for inspiration! So now for a crafters tour of Paris (or at least of the few cool places that we found).
We went to one of my favourite places which I have blogged about before, Entree des Fournisseurs (and they even have a website in English now!) at 8 Rue des Francs Bourgeois in the Marais (it's set in a little courtyard so be sure to look out for it)...it is a treasure trove of buttons and ribbons, felt and yarn....so much easier to negotiate than La Droguerie.....and so beautiful to look at!
Next stop was Ultramod at 14 rue de Choiseul in the 2nd arrondisement, a 2 location store (directly across the road from each other) that don't look like they have changed in the last 20 years. The main shop has boxes and boxes of buttons, rolls of ribbon, reels of thread, some of it new, some of it vintage and you get the impression that once sold it cannot be replaced....the lighting is low, enhancing the atmosphere, creating an ambience that made me think of Paris in the 1920s....coolest of all the hand-cranked till......across the street is the hat shop, which looks like an Aladdin's Cave of goodness, hat forms, rolls of fabric and felt, much of it vintage...
The 18th arrondisement, around Montmatre is famous for its fabric stores. Some of the largest fabric stores in Europe, such as Marche St Pierre and Tissus Reine, each extending over a number of floors, housing fabric for making clothes, furnishings and haberdashery. Take the metro to Anvers and then just follow the stores trying to be Marche St Pierre or Tissus Reine until you reach the real thing on Place St Pierre.
In Marche St Pierre, the assistants walk around with wooden metre sticks to measure out your purchases and look more like strict "maitresse" than helpful shop assistants. The prices are good, with some real bargains to be found....all the fabric is end of line and once it's gone, it's gone. Half a metre is the smallest length they will sell and if there is less than 3m left on the roll they may refuse to cut it. The 3m lengths get sent across the road to their "coupon" store at 1 place St Pierre, where virtually every fabric is 3m of 10 euros. (Here I was lucky enough to find a metre length of the palest, softest, blue wool fabric.)
The range of fabric is stunning, we fell in love with boiled wool in a host of colours, velvets and denims and like the fabrics the customers are a mixed bunch - from chic Parisiens looking for fabric to furnish their homes, to art students seeking to create the trendiest of individual oufits an d like us, lots of tourists.
Don't forget to check out the coupon store across the street or the mercerie next door. I have never seen such an array of ribbon anywhere before!
Next to Les Coupons de St Pierre is Tissus Reine, 5 Place St Pierre, a slightly more upmarket (read expensive) store on 4 floors, also selling a huge choice of end of line fabrics. When we were there they had an extensive collection of Liberty prints (but at 21 euros a metre, not exactly a bargain), velvets, wools, furnishing fabrics, curtain materials etc. Both stores are definitely worth a visit. I think my friend Andrea will be dreaming of purchases lost for a long time to come, but savouring the 4m of fabric that she did buy!
I am sure this is just a small flavour of what Paris has to offer the crafter and I am looking forward to returning soon to visit shops that we found that were closed.......such as the amazing shops we saw in Passage Jouffroy!