Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

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On our second to the last day, my mom and I met R for breakfast at Merci – Paris’ newest multi-brand concept store where a percentage of everything on sale goes to charity.  This bright, loft-like space has been converted into a carefully-edited shop showcasing design items: from notebooks to gently-used furniture to cult sandals from K Jacques and soft t-shirts from James Perse.  There is also a counter of Australian beauty brand Aesop (what I use) and another for Annick Goutal (Merci owners previously owned this brand along with the other cult children’s label, Bonpoint).  The cheeky Citroen parked permanently in the inner courtyard along with plants and garden furniture just shows how much fun Merci has with design and that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Aside from all the wonderful things in-store, there are also two places to eat – one opening directly onto the street like a French-style diner and another cafe leading into the store.  The cafe walls are lined with floor to ceiling built-in shelves filled with donated hardcover books – partly decor and partly there for customers to flick through while enjoying a coffee.  Cozy armchairs and mismatched furniture are scattered throughout and spindly crystal chandeliers light the place.  The cashier’s desk is an old used sink where cakes are also displayed.  It’s hard to explain and has to be seen to be appreciated.

We met R at the library-like cafe and had a simple breakfast of oeufs à la coque with toast soldiers ready to dip into the soft-runny yolk. R also ordered one of the daily cakes – a buttery lemon cake which went well with our morning detox ginger tea.  After breakfast R headed off home to the Marais, my mom sat and read some of the books and I explored the store for a bit then it was back to St. Germain to visit another famous store.

The whimsical spring picnic window at the left bank’s new Hermes store 

We had passed by the new Hermes space right by the Hotel Lutetia, it’s first rive gauche(left bank) location, several times on our daily walks from the hotel to Saint-Germain-des-Pres but it wasn’t until our last day that we ventured inside to have a look and good thing we did.  The store used to be a municipal swimming pool and the space has been lovingly restored, keeping some of the mosaics intact, into a large space to showcase everything Hermes.  Near the entrance there is a fragrant and beautifully-presented flower shop with a window display of in-season peonies.  There was a section just for scarves, another for books and even a little tearoom/cafe overlooking the rest of the store downstairs.  Below, there were pod-like sections for furniture, equestrian kit, cutlery, china and of course, bags and leather items plus anything else that Hermes makes.  Whereas their boutique in the rue Saint-Honore is classic and warren-like with smaller rooms leading off to other smaller rooms, this light-filled modern space is a way of making Hermes seem not so classic.  With the creation of this one-of-a-kind Hermes emporium, their scarves and bags suddenly seem younger and much more accessible although the prices are still skyscraper high.   It’s worth it to have a look, maybe stop for an overpriced drink and at least enjoy the Hermes lifestyle for a few hours.

________________________________
111 Blvd. de Beaumarchais
75003, Paris
Telephone: +33 1 42 77 00 33
*Open daily except Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
17, rue de Sevres
75006 Paris
Telephone: +33 1 42 22 80 83
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