Later that day, almost on the opposite southern side of town at Porte de Vanves (Avenue Georges-Lafenestre at Avenue Marc-Sangnier), I found a much more affordable yet equally fabulous flea market. Small booths stocked with Transferware, paintings, vintage clothes, toys, and books snaked around the neighborhood for blocks and blocks.
At one point the market adjoins a soccer field where a local team, in all their Umbro-shorted glory, practiced in the cool Parisian afternoon. I picked up some amazing black and white Transferware plates that will make a useful souvenir from my travels. I was not as lucky with the soccer team.
If you?re missing the flea market-loving gay gene but still want some authentic objets de charme, check out De Bouche ? Oreille (26 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 33-1-44-67-03) for some beautiful reproduction antiques for the la maison. They stock handsome drinking glasses, chandeliers, and artwork, all for a fraction of the price of real antiques. I think this store is gay-owned -- but then it?s in Paris, so who knows?
The Marais district, though, has always been all about les gays. A new section a few blocks north of there has emerged as one of the city?s coolest and most chic shopping areas. In its heart lies Le March? des Enfants Rouges (30 Rue de Bretagne, 33-1-42-77-55-05), which literally means ?the market of red babies.? Despite the weird name, it is a great place to pick up some French bread, cheeses, and amazing produce, which you can take to an impromptu (and money-saving) picnic in one of the many public areas that are nearby. There are also stalls where locals go to enjoy hot delicious Moroccan and Asian food.
Once I was properly fortified, it was time for L?Eclaireur, (with separate men?s and women?s stores at 12 Rue Mahler, 33-1-44-54-22-11, and 3 Ter Rue des Rosiers, 33-1-48-87-10-22, respectively). This is one of the most amazing men?s stores I?ve ever visited -- and this gal gets around! The name L?Eclaireur sounds like that of bakery, but the store actually serves up ultra-edgy menswear and accessories, all behind the fa?ade of a perfumery. Inside the store smoked-glass doors magically open in the candle and cologne area and reveal a space containing rack after rack of Dries Van Noten and less well-known designers. The bags are to die for, which is good because you might have to sell your soul (or something else) to afford one. Oh, and the sales associates are easy on les yeux as well!
L?Eclaireur also operates an ?ber-chic women?s venue and bar and restaurant at the Galerie Royale (10 Rue Boissy d?Anglais, 33-1-53-43-09-99). It?s a great place to take a break from power-shopping with an alfresco lunch even in cool weather, since there are California-style heating lamps.
Taking a ?Why don?t you?? cue from the legendary Diana Vreeland, when in Paris why not buy a pair of unusual eyeglass frames and have the prescription filled by your lensmaker or optician at home? The boutique Les Lunettes d?Also (115 Rue Vieille du Temple, 33-1-48-04-93-52) sells the most fabulous sunglasses and prescription eyewear. And don?t forget pooch at Les Cadors (12 Rue Ferdinand Duval, 33-1-44-59-30-46), which stocks the most amazing array of dog and cat accessories, such as bejeweled dog collars, cashmere pet sweaters, and even dog beds that are miniature versions of Empire settees replete with toile cushions -- not at all cutesy in a Paris Hilton kind of way but superchic in a Catherine Deneuve kind of way!
Nearby at Jacenko (18 Rue de Poitou, 33-1-42-71-80-38), handsome dark gray walls and a modern Italian crystal chandelier complement the sublime menswear. Just two doors down, another store offers a continuous sample sale of men?s and women?s French designs. I snagged the most amazing Paul & Joe military coat for a fraction of the euros I thought I would have to shell out. Who wouldn?t say ?Je t?aime? to a bargain?
For the full array or men?s and women?s clothing, check out the main Marais location of Paul & Joe(56 Rue Vieille du Temple, 33-1-42-72-42-06). I love this brand because their clothes are hip and very French yet also vibrant and full of color, even fun and playful.
A few minutes walk away (Paris is all about walking) is the Marais shop of the famed French perfumery Fragonard (51 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 33-1-44-78-01-32). Aside from the most divine scents, most of which are not easily found in the states, they also sell some tasteful and relatively inexpensive souvenirs, such as fabulous silk pillow covers, hand-embroidered eyeglass cases, and one-of-a-kind costume-jewelry pieces. I picked up a bottle of the divine fragrance Confidential Cette Nuit-L?, dabbed a few drops where I wanted to be kissed (thanks for the tip, Coco), and hit the streets.
Now, although it is not considered shopping per se, I did check out the merchandise at the local watering hole Raidd (23 Rue du Temple, 33-1-48-87-80-25). Anyone who has been to Splash in New York City will appreciate the refreshing scene that is a man showering while you are enjoying an almost equally refreshing cocktail. And at eight euros a drink (which I think is like $30 each -- just kidding!) one should definitely savor. And here at Raidd they really take a shower when they take a shower. Who said the French don?t bathe frequently enough? Hogwash!
Part One | Part Two