What's Haute in Le Haut-Marais


It's a clothing store, it's a bookstore, it's a cafe... it's an experience you can't miss.

Pass through an unassuming door in the trendy Haut Marais and you'll enter into the world of Paris's most à la mode concept shop. Merci opened in 2009 in what was once a 19th-century wallpaper factory. This 1,500 square meter shop cum bookstore cum café boasts three floors of the latest in fashion for men and women, home goods from the actual table to the table setting, and a volume of other daily essentials including bedding and aprons. The stationery and lighting sections alone merit a visit. A walk around the stylish space is an exercise in inspiration.

The carefully curated selection of brands including many emerging creators represents what's new in Paris's independent designer scene, with a few coveted French labels mixed in. Merci's own collections of scarves, jewelry and linens are also on display.

The experience of Merci isn't merely in the shopping. The store changes themes monthly depending on the season, turning the massive space into an ephemeral art exhibition. During my last visit, the store had morphed into a tropical beach. Merci's famous red Fiat also gets dressed for every occasion.

Part of Merci's charm is found within its many eateries. From a cinema-themed restaurant whose terrace spills onto boulevard Beaumarchais, to a used literary cafe where you can spend hours reading any number of subjects. Restaurant La Cantine du Potager on the bottom floor boasts garden views reminiscent of life in the countryside. A daily assortment of savory and sweet selections includes seasonal salads, fresh juices, and decadent homemade desserts. If you like the tableware, it too is for sale. So are garden tools should you desire to plant a few seeds after lunch.

What makes Merci even more of a destination is its philanthropic spirit. When the store was founded by Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, a foundation was set up to help pay for educational projects and development in southwest Madagascar. The torch was passed to a new generation in 2013, but the benevolence continues.

Merci: 111 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003/+33 1 42 77 00 33: Hours 10am-7:30pm (daily)