As la grisaille (the grayness) settles in, winter Paris starts to become black and white. Yet this is also when the city’s shop windows work their magic: plenty of sparkle spiked with gorgeous colors. On gloomy days, they charm residents into many a Paris boutique such as Petit Pan.
There are plenty of shops in Paris that feature lights and baubles. But Petit Pan’s haberdashery is my favorite. Here you’ll find glass jars full of buttons and glittering sequins, dazzling paper mobiles and yards of jazzy, colorful fabrics. One of the things that make the shop a magnet through the darker days is their distinctive glowing lamps and garlands of lights. These are made from the most delicate, translucent papers and they take the shape of everything from teapots to peacocks. Equally inventive are their elaborate kites and mobiles.
With his wife, Myriam de Loor, the Chinese-born Pan Gang cofounded Petit Pan in 2003. He was working as a kite maker and she was a stylist—and their inspiration was the birth of a son, Emile. The suit Pan’s Chinese grandmother hand-made and sent the baby seemed so “poetic” it inspired both parents. Myriam says she fell in love with the richness of its print: “I was amazed a tiny outfit that came from so far away could have every one of the qualities I love.”
Myriam and Pan decided they could provide such beautiful treats for other children. Carefully, they organized a fusion of Chinese craft and fabrication with Parisian flair. Seven years on, Myriam designs while Pan oversees production. Their products are often tested at home by Emile and his brothers, Théo and Pablo.
Although they now run five stores plus an online shop, the two founders are guided by their original aim. Petit Pan, they say, remains “a universe defined by childhood.” Their initial shop in the rue de Prague pioneered a funky new kind of Paris boutique. It mixed vintage kids’ furniture with kites and lamps, adding cushions, comforters, dishes, clothes, cloth and toys.
There is plenty in every one of their stores to enchant the childless. But creative types cherish Petit Pan’s haberdashery (located in the fourth, on rue François Miron). Here, it is hard to get enough of the retro-themed yet eye-popping fabrics. But I remain a sucker for the small stuff: the bells, buttons, ribbon, braid and sequins. I view it as a giant sweetshop just bursting with tempting bonbons. So: if the gray is getting you down, try this romantic getaway.
TIP If you are sending a special card or wrapping a present, empty a package of Petit Pan sequins inside. Each bag of mixed stars or flowers costs 5 euros; the colors are gorgeous and they add a perfect touch.
TIP Another thing that makes Petit Pan a perfect Paris boutique: it offers children’s workshops. You can enroll your enfant to learn about marionette making, recycling, kite creating or similar crafts. Or you can sign up for its e-newsletter, La Tartine de Petit Pan.
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