When I first moved to the Montorgueil quartier, I only had eyes for rue Montorgueil and its delicious overload of boulangeries, fromageries, épiceries and cute cafés. It took weeks to realize that I was living on top of another gold mine: rue Etienne Marcel. More specifically, the shopping on rue Etienne Marcel.
What’s so great about the fashionable finds in this area straddling the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements? (Literally, straddling: the south side of the street is the 1st Arrondissement and the north side is the 2nd.) Aside from the concentrated punch of great boutiques, it’s what’s not found here: crowds. Over the past year, my theory has become, why battle the hordes of tripists in the Marais and feisty French women in St.-Germain when you have a treasure trove of trendy options in your own backyard?
For purposes of convenience, I divide (and conquer) this prime shopping district into two sections: the main drag and its offshoots.
Between rue de Turbigo and rue du Louvre, you’ll find everything from big-name labels to indie gems to trendy chains. If you’re looking to dole out some serious euros on some serious fashion, start with a heavy hitter at the eastern end of the street: Kabuki, split into two stores (#23 and #25), is a mini-emporium stocking all manner of expensive European labels like Chloé, Moschino, Balenciaga and Balmain.
Thankfully, as you continue westward, you’ll find more casual and affordable options. Denim devotees (and who’s not one these days?) should be able to find at least one perfect pair between the options at Diesel (#35), Replay (#36) Levi’s (#42). Trendistas can get the latest flirty skirts and boyfriend jackets at the ever-popular Sandro (#42) and the Kooples (#44), as well as at the lesser-known California-inspired American Retro (#37). But if you’re looking for unique pieces, spend some time at Gas by Marie (#44) and Saïki (#32). Both boutiques are très petite. The former features lovely, can’t-miss feminine dresses designed by Marie Gas, alongside the season’s best pieces by designers like Vanessa Bruno; the latter offers exquisite handmade jewelry.
At some point, you’ll need fortification, which rue Montorgueil offers in spades. Stop at Café Etienne Marcel at #34 for a simple bite a nice terrace and continuous service or Lézard Café for something similar at #32.
Around the corner at 64, rue Tiquetonne is Kiliwatch, one of the biggest and most celebrated vintage stores in the city. Whether you want beat-up Wranglers, an old granny sundress or the perfect French scarf, this is your spot.
But the real offshoot oasis is south of Etienne Marcel, on rue Montmartre. Behold! Cotélac (#30), Les Petits (#43), Bel Air (#26); nearly all the main chain stores are here (with many others—Comptoir des Cotonniers (#10), Agnès B (#6), Antoine et Lilli (#17)—around the corner on the small rue du Jour). You can get your soft cotton basics at Petit Bateau (#32 rue Montmartre), sweet but sexy lingerie at Princesse Tam Tam (#5 rue Montmartre) and fabulous party dresses at Maje (#16).
Even with the preponderance of well-known brands, save time (and shopping stamina) to explore a few smaller shops on rue Montmartre. You can take home un vrai “Made in France” handbag from Jack Gomme (#6), whose styles are fun and quirky yet also chic and practical. And next door, at Territoire (#8–10), it’s a fashionable mix of the latest marine-inspired T-shirts, floral blouses and long cardigans—the perfect complements for all your other treasures from the day.
Amy Thomas is a blogger and author of My Sweet Life in Paris.