Shop The Small Funky Rue Montorgueil Boutiques For One-of-A-Kinds

Just to the north of Les Halles you will find this quaint, and very historical, pedestrian  (mostly) only street called rue Montorgueil. It is the defining thoroughfare of the neighborhood known by the same name. Capitalizing on its centuries' old reputation of the fine foods quarter of Paris, many of the shops you find today dotting this street cater to food lovers: Lov Organic Teas, La Mère de la Famille chocolates, and other gourmet food items that are conveniently wrapped up for easy shipping.

However, once you come to the cross-street of rue Etienne Marcel, you start to get into a sort of edgy fashion area. And here you begin to find established French name brands as well as small designer boutiques. The prices in this area tend toward the reasonable so if you are up for a day of bargain hunting, this is a good area in which to start.

And just near this area, along the rue Etienne Marcel, and on rue St. Martin, you will find kitchen utensil and equipment shops that are full of everything the aspiring chef, or chef-on-the-weekends, could ever dream of wanting. One of the more famous ones is La Bovida but there are others a bit further up the street, like A. Simon, that are smaller but which do stock different inventory and a variety of cookware and bakeware items, too.


What's not to love about this name? And if it's said that you can't judge a book by its cover, I don't believe the same holds true about the name of a shop. This little boutique, the only one of its kind in Paris, is off a sidestreet from rue Montorgueil, one that is worth meandering down, I might add. The shop announces itself with a bright rainbow-colored graffiti'd exterior. Inside, the display doesn't try to grab you, rather it just says, here we are: the latest skateboarder/ surfer athletic shoes, t-shirts, sweat shirts, hoodies, board shorts, havaianas, Ray-bans and other items of that ilk. Warning: Coming in here might make you extremely homesick (if you're from California).

A. Simon
Photo courtesy of a. Simon

There are several really great kitchen and cooking supply stores in this neighborhood and this is one of them. It's a bit smaller than a couple of the others, but nonetheless just as well-stocked. Here you can find things with which to sauté and simmer, bake and fry, grill and roast, decorate and camouflage and all the other steps along the cooking process way. If you don't recognize half the things here, no matter. Trying to figure out just what that cooking gadget is good for is half the fun. There are also lots of tame items, too, such as bottle openers and canning jars. In short, whether you are looking to pick up a few more items for your own kitchen or a friend's, you will find plenty of inspiration here.

Ekyog is a women's wear brand that is not all that well known outside of France. No matter. Many of the pioneering ethical clothing and sustainably manufactured textile companies have had an uphill battle in the past decade to market themselves and compete with the likes of, say, H&M. But Ekyog, a thoroughly French affair, is one of those brands that merit getting very familiar with while you're here. The fashions, now branching out a bit into children's wear, too, focus on simple basics and muted colors. Though each season they will throw in an accent color to keep things fresh. Last season's color was canary yellow. What's good to know is that this shop here just at the entrance to rue Montorgueil is their outlet shop, called a "stock" shop in French. So here you will get last season's fashions at hefty percentage discounts.


In this land of fine pastry shops, of course there are going to be supply stores for those many bakers and baker-wannabes. This area in and around rue Montorgueil has a number of cooking supply stores but this shop is the one that is 100% dedicated to baking and fine pastry making. Here you will not only find molds and cookie cut outs and silicone baking "pans" and hot gloves and frosting cones and decorating acoutrements, you will also find literally anything else you can imagine and your heart might desire. This is Betty Crocker's dream shop. Keep in mind that though this address listed here is a good start, the shop actually spans all the way to the other side and has a rue Montorgueil entrance as well.

All the trendiest season's must-have items under one roof. The emphasis is on brands, brands, brands. At ElevenParis ou find both men's and women's fashions but here at Little ElevenParis you find them in kids' sizes. This is one of those trendsters boutiques that is also a dynamic online brand and catalogue. When they feature superstars like Lenny Kravitz on their catalogue cover, you can see just who they are targeting. This is upscale ( i.e. expensive) rocker chic and Swarovski-studded grunge. You betcha you'll pay top dollar for your ripped up jeans here. And when you walk out, you'll be head-to-toe in fashion, that they can guarantee you. In other words, you can be sure that pretty much anything they stock here is going to be this season's hottest items.

Perhaps because fashion is such a major part of the economy and the culture here, a shop like this exists. Where else are all the "jeunes createurs" (young creatives) going to go to find their lace trim, their patchwork, their thread and buttons? There are shops of this kind elsewhere in Paris but in all honesty there aren't that many. Which makes this shop a real find. It is packed to the gills with everything you need to become an Etsy-superstar. It is one of the biggest shops of its kind in Paris and their online presence is pretty comprehensive, too.

General Store
Photo courtesy of General Store - Montorgueil Paris

This isn't just pop-tarts and Cola-Light. This shop, just opened late fall 2015, is stocked with gluten-free and sugar-free healthy California snacks and drinks fresh off the boat. They even stock the city's (I'm stickin' to it) best collection of California wines for under €30 and under. And you'll even find the peanut butter filled M&M's here (OK, not a health-food but certainly a feel-good food). What's more, the stars-and-stripes sewn out of old Levi's jeans lends that Harley Davidson biker vibe to the locale. If you saunter all the way to the back, past the wall displaying the lovely Francis Ford Coppola vintages, you'll just get a glimpse of the bar which accommodates no more than half a dozen seats. Here's where they're intending to get serious about the whiskey that the French enjoy so much.

Wandering into this gallery gives you a sense of the kinds of pieces you could add to your collection (or as a gift, to someone else's) while combing the streets of Paris. And while the serious art collector, it's true, will be found mostly on the Left Bank scouring the galleries in and around St. Germain-des-Prés or on the Right Bank in the Marais district, this area still offers some gems to be unearthed. But that's not to say that off the beaten path, such as in this once downtrodden and still a bit offbeat rue Montorgueil area you won't find some gems. As with most all art galleries, the showings change so you'll never visit the same space twice. The nice thing about collecting a piece of art work from your travels is once you have it displayed back home it will always remind you of that lovely romantic afternoon in Paris.

de Marseille et d'ailleurs
Photo courtesy of Marseilles et d'Ailleurs

Soap from Marseilles is something of a cultural cult item here in France. It is soap in its purest form and made from a centuries' old recipe. This shop specializes in the artisanal product (as opposed to the mass-manufactured product you find in the grocery stores here). And since it's a boutique it has that handpicked feel making your gifts stand out. They don't just have soap here, either. They have lotions and body creams, essential oils, hair care and other body beautiful products that all originate from the South of France. Even if you're not a fan of artisanal soaps, it is worth the trek to discover the gem-like covered passageway, the Passage du Grand Cerf, in which this boutique resides. It is one of the beautiful "passages" of Paris and this one especially has highly curated, wonderful little boutiques in it.

A stroll down rue Montorgueil must be punctuated by stops into the cheese, wine and chocolate shops you find along the street. This cheese shop is unique to this street meaning you won't find a chain of them throughout the city (which is why it's included on this list). There is nothing quite like wandering into a cheese shop, especially the good ones, like this one, here in Paris. First, breathe in. Just inhale that pungent mixture of aromas that ripe, fine cheeses emanate. Then, start choosing and assembling your cheese platter. A good cheese platter, for after supper or to be accompanied by your wine picks, has a selection of 4, 5 or 6 cheeses at least. So go ahead and let yourself discover a few of these French cheeses that you may have yet to try.


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige