Crafters converge upon Paris for its unique shops, galleries, and artist studios, where they can find both the inspiration and the materials to indulge their artistic whims. Here are just a few.
In the Bastille, beneath a lushly landscaped promenade that goes on for a mile, is a row of artisan and craft storefronts called the Viaduc des Arts, where weavers, dressmakers, woodworkers, designers, and glassblowers work and show their products.
One of those storefronts is Le Bonheur des Dames (ladies delight), an embroiderers dream housed in a bright, two-story space filled with goodies. Crafters can choose from hundreds of cross-stitch and embroidery patterns, and racks of floss, fabric, and ribbon of all shades, colors, and patterns. Framed vintage embroidery covers the walls, and all the merchandise is neatly organized, tidily arranged in baskets and elegant armoires, so browsing is an absolute pleasure.
Beautiful beads, jacquard ribbons, buttons good enough to make jewelry with, and a unique mix of yarns and sheets of felt are just a few of the attractions of La Droguerie, one of the better-known craft institutions in the city. Located in the Les Halles neighborhood, the shop is packed at all hours with creative crafters.
Set in a shop straight out of 1930s Paris, the height of Art Deco in France, Le Comptoir boutique is the retail personification of the Moulin Rouge. The shop is stuffed with a gorgeous selection of wool yarn the best in quality and color as well as a huge selection of pattern books and magazines for the avid knitter. Youll also find ribbons, embroidery floss and tools, and buttons galore.
Local crafters, artists, and musicians exhibit their handmade wares at French Touche, a quirky shop in Montmartre that sells one-of-a-kind clothing, posters, hats, incredible jewelry, leather wallets, ceramics, and CDs. Browsing through the shop gives you a good idea what local designers and makers are up to, such as the paper-thin handcrafted ceramic cups, saucers, and bowls by Fanny Laugier, wire sculptures by Marinettechou, and silkscreened pillows by Auberginette.
The third shop to open under the Caravane brand in Paris, Caravane Emporium purveys handcrafted objects, antique and modern textiles, and glassware made by crafters from all over the world. Visitors can ogle clothing from Japanese designers, blankets from the Himalayas, woolen hats from Morocco, and Japanese cutting boards while browsing the multilevel store, which invites exploration from one room to the next.
In the picturesque part of town along Canal Saint- Martin, design hounds from all over the city pile into Artazart Bookstore, taking their time, browsing the many aisles filled with lush art, design, fashion, photography, and architecture books, many of them in English. The shop, originally an online retail store, found a home in this artsy enclave more than eight years ago, and has its share of regulars coming through to check out the latest titles. A portion of the store is designated as a revolving gallery for local artists works.
Le Bonheur des Dames
Le Viaduc des Arts
17 Avenue Daumesnil
22 Rue Saint-Nicolas
26 Rue Cadet
9 and 11 Rue du Jour
1 Rue Jacquemont
83 Quai de Valmy
Nathalie Lete has her hands in all manner of crafts. Her studio is packed with decorative ceramics (sculptures, tea sets, and accessories); hand-sewn dolls; jewelry made with brass, leather, ceramics, and fabric; patchwork and embroidery; clothing for grownups and kids; and brightly colored, hand-tufted rugs. She illustrates books, paints on fabrics, and obliges famous names like Issey Miyake and Shiseido with one-of-a-kind commissions.
Letes whimsical, folksy designs play up elements of nature animals and flowers in big, bold colors. Shes huge in Japan and London, and now has a line of bedding and home accessories with Anthropologie in the United States.
Although her work can be found in shops in San Francisco, Tokyo, and London, why not pay her a visit and see where it all happens? Just be sure to send her a note before dropping by.
Each of Maïssa Toulets cabinets of curiosities, painstakingly crafted inside its glass box, tells a story, and its up to the interpreter to decide what that story is. In Echographie, eggshells, golden talons, a chickens head, and white coral have the starring roles. Les Végétaux features a miniature park bench, a butterfly, two tiny doll busts, and many plant-life reproductions.
Toulet is democratic about where she collects her materials: antique shops, toy stores, trash cans, the beach. For some of her pieces, a bit of bric-a-brac inspires the entire theme; for others, she seeks out particular items to complete an existing idea. Antique science, anatomy, and botany books, plus old catalogs and encyclopedias help her collect ideas. She trawls the web for collectibles, especially eBay, where she can find almost anything shes looking for, and she spends a lot of time at museums and galleries looking at both classical and modern art for inspiration. Visitors can arrange a trip to her atelier by first sending her an email.