The rue du Pont Louis Philippe is a tiny street that runs from the rue de Rivoli to the Seine, a distance of about 200 yards. Because it is so tiny, and because it is located in a no-man’s-land between the very popular Marais and the equally inundated Ile St.-Louis, this street gets very little press, which is great for locally owned businesses that have been pushed out by international chains from the two other locations. And it is also great for visitors who want to explore a bit off the beaten path and do some shopping in Paris, without going too far astray.
It’s even better if these visitors are interested in local artisans and design, because this street has a large variety of shops that feature high-quality, well-designed, locally made goods. The first shop you’ll run into is Pierre Boisset, the perfect place to find a designer handbag made in France that costs just a fraction of the internationally known brands and is considerably more original. Farther along, at No. 16, is the C&P gallery, with a constantly changing collection of wearable art. Across the street, at No. 19, PCF Art et Societé was once the home of the neighborhood’s communist party but is now an art gallery with original works on paper.
As you continue along, there are a handful of jewelry stores selling very original pieces, some of them made from simple, affordable materials like wood, while other shops specialize in true jewels, with diamonds gracing their elegant displays. There is also a collection of stationery stores, the most uniquely French being Melodies Graphiques, at No. 10. With its tempting selection of sophisticated papers and quill pens, this Paris shop is a treasure trove of writing pleasures.
One of the more original boutiques is Monastica, specializing in goods made from monastaries and convents from throughout Europe. From household linens to candles, from leather sandals to luxury soaps, you’ll find an eclectic collection of quality gifts for yourself or friends at home. Equally original is the luthier, who sells extraordinarily gorgeous antique musical instruments.
And finally, there is Agathe Gaillard, the photography gallery that brought me to this street in the first place. This gallery has the most stunning collection of black-and-white photography of any I’ve visited in Paris. It is always a delight to stop in and see what’s on the walls.
Naturally, all this Paris shopping and visiting gets exhausting, even if it’s only taken a few hundred steps, which is fine because there are two historic cafés at the end of the block for you to choose from. Chez Julien is now owned by one of the Costes brothers, who run the trendiest cafés in town. Lately they’ve been buying up some of the historic venues, but the crowd remains young, chic and übertrendy. The cuisine tends to be light and fresh, yet very costly. Le Café Louis Philippe is just across the street and has a peaceful, shady terrace far from passing traffic. A true haven with good, honest French cuisine on the menu.
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