23 November 2007

Paris: Shopping in the Village St. Paul

Each year on the day after Thanksgiving, I congratulate myself on the wisdom of avoiding the hordes of shoppers who throng to the mall, the stand-alone stores, and our charming little downtown. I support shopping locally, I always have, but I am not a masochist. Most years, I've worked on this day, and when I did not work, it was because we were traveling.

This year I am home. In the kitchen. Making sense of leftovers and attending to residual cleaning chores.

In my mind, I am, of course, shopping in Paris. Given any place in that lovely, layered city to schlep from store to store, I am pretty certain it would be the Village St. Paul. Tucked away behind the hulking Baroque church of St. Paul-St. Louis and just west of Rue St. Paul, this labyrinth of small and quiet shops is seldom crowded.

To reach the warren of shops you must enter through small, inviting alleys. Inside are courtyards lined with antique stores, tiny artisan ateliers and gift shops. Nothing shoddy here, no little Eiffel Tower key chains. At one shop owned by a Scandinavian, I purchased a small ceramic bowl for a friend's birthday.

It was quiet the Saturday we visited and quiet again the weekday when we returned. Many of the shops were closed,perhaps because it was only mid-spring or perhaps because they had not flourished here.

Something about the Village St. Paul reminds me of the little country shopping centers of Wisconsin's Door County, nearly abandoned in the off-season but bustling during high tourist season.

But according to the book, Quiet Corners of Paris, St. Paul Village is routinely quiet. How sad, because it is a lovely little place, an oasis just steps from teeming Rue St. Antoine.

There are many other quiet spots in Paris and many places to shop. The Village St. Paul is both.

It is worth a visit, near some wonderful bakeries and caf├ęs and very close to one of my favorite bookstores, The Red Wheelbarrow. My husband and I were quite taken with the place and I think on our next visit, we will spend more time there, perhaps grabbing a ubiquitous sandwiche jambon from a nearby bakery and finding a secluded place to share it. But that is a full 300 days in the future (yes, the next countdown has now begun).

Where are you today? In the kitchen or in a store?

12 comments:

Judy said...

I'm home cleaning and make turkey stock. Leftovers for dinner tonight and resting from the big day. It is very cold here today 25degrees so after running a couple of errands and driving past a couple of stores and being thankful I wasn't there I'm home safe and sound and warm!!

Mimi said...

Judy, I'm home making vegetable stock. It's only a few degrees warmer here. I refuse to do anything that requires a coat and gloves today. It's too much fun being in the kitchen or at the computer.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Certainly not in any store! I am not a masochist either and now it will be very difficult to get me in anything other than a grocery store until after Christmas.
Yes, I know just these little Village St. Paul shops and it is a delightful explore.

Mimi said...

I am glad I did more than window shop, Tanna, because the interiors are very charming.

fiona said...

No sales for us in New Zealand yet ;)

I enjoyed those photos, its the little out of the way places like this that make for an interesting visit. The village shopping atmosphere is missing nowadays with all the big convenience stores.

Mimi said...

Yes, it is, Fiona. But it is not missing in France, thankfully!

breadchick said...

Well I just added this to my list of new places to visit when I'm in Paris in February. Thanks for this tip!

Mimi said...

Breadchick, I think you will enjoy the village, especially if you like kitchen arts and antiques. There was also a shop selling big sun hats and bijoux. It is quiet, and what charms me is that calm so close to the often-gritty Rue St. Antoine.

Christine said...

The Village St. Paul was one of Mr CC's and my favorite places in Paris. I love that it's quiet. It's peaceful, just like the very old, small church at the end.
Your post and photos make me want to be there right now. Instead, I'm in my office reading your blog - a very pleasant experience! :))

Mimi said...

Christine, somehow I had a feeling this would resonate with you - we liked the Village St. Paul so much we went back a second time. There was a holiday feeling to the place. I like to find quiet places, but it would be nice if this one thrived, too. Perhaps it does...

Jann said...

I stayed away from the hoards~ do not do well with crowds and there really isn't anything I need that desparately..... ...I loved your shopping experience in Paris. Someplace i must visit on my next trip~maybe I will see you there~maybe I have passed it and didn't realize i was there. Need to get out my street map! Cheers!

Mimi said...

Jann, you of all people will find wonderful things here - I know it!