There is a place I love to seek inspiration in Paris like no other. It’s not just about the shopping experience or discovering new trends (do we really need a department store for that these days?). This place is about quality, curiosity and a careful selection of beautiful objects curated with two notions in mind: excellence and distinctiveness. Le Bon Marché is embodying all of this. Located on Rive Gauche which means on the left bank of the Seine, it has become over the years a lot more than your average department store, and that is what sets it apart. Every year their team chooses different artists to expose throughout the year as well as a main theme based on a city/area or country such as Japan, Brasil, Brooklyn, Italy, Paris… Usually presented in September, this big exhibition gathers a selection of objects from the main theme. What makes it really interesting is that you usually can hardly find the products selected in Paris.
I always find an excuse to visit the place. And since I spend more and more time in the countryside on the weekends, I tend to meet with friends usually for a nice brunch at the nearby Marcel small restaurant (on rue de Babylone) and then stroll around the Home department of Le Bon Marché. How convenient… Did you know that the temple of delicatessen, namely, La Grande Épicerie de Paris (belonging to the same group) is just opposite the street? I hope you understand how hard it is to resist…
Well, back to my expedition at the Tableware Department: I saw there several beautiful salad bowls made in Fes, Morocco and it was hard fighting the urge to buying one ; especially at this time of year, when all you want is using beautiful tableware and enjoy a nice lunch outside. I also stumbled upon a beautiful brand created by ceramist Elise Lefebvre and I fell in love with her poetic work and bought a salad bowl and a platter. I just love craftsmanship so much.
There were so many lovely objects from different parts of the world (loved a few plates and carafes from Portugal too) but let’s be honest: we can’t have it all.
Nethertheless, it’s always a pleasure to wander freely around this area and have my habits there even if I do not live in this neighborhood: I stop at the newsstand to buy Country Living, House & Gardenor Town & Country (another guilty pleasure of mine) and then have a coffee somewhere around at a terrace before heading back home. I usually recommend going to the Coutume Café. You may find many tourists there (I guess the café is in many travel guides) but you will never be disappointed by their coffee. And it is perfectly located too!
This is the beauty of Spring I guess: getting to enjoy life in a slower way, indulging into the simple things it offers you and experiencing more smiles and laughter on the street than any other time of the year.
In the late afternoon, we went with a good friend of mine to the Artcurial x Ritz Paris exhibition. How grateful I am that she invited me! It was such a wonderful thing to see. Artcurial is a French auction house such as Bonham’s or Sotheby’s that is located in a former hôtel particulier on the Champs-Élysées. Before the actual auction begins (lasting five days) they usually exhibit a selection of objects (this time from the Ritz Paris before its renovation) that are going to be sold. They asked a talented French interior designer called Vincent Darré to exclusively design for them a few wall papers that were used in the staging of the furniture. The scenography included replicas of the famous Hemingway Bar, the Windsor suite, the Ritz courtyard and so on… It was really magical.
I fell mainly in love with a few chintz armchairs and beautiful curtains and it gave me inspiration for many things that I will try to adapt at home (with less grandeur of course).