23 June 2012

yarn travels: paris

So you went to Paris? Did you go to the Eiffel tower? Hell no! So what did you do? I went and checked out the wool shops of course!!! Here's my review of some of the best in north Paris.
So on a sunny Saturday morning, I put on my bow tie, had my morning coffee, and took my wife to hit the shops. First off we headed into Montmartre area. We knew we were in the right place when we saw a whole street of fabric shops, seriously there were so many it was crazy! And all these little €2 fabric quarters out on the street were so tempting (I couldn't help but buy at least one). So in the middle of this street we found our first shop...
...'Moline Mercerie'. This was a fantastic first shop! A good size yarn selection, and it catered for everything you'd need for any kind of craft project. They had one of the biggest button walls I've ever seen, some beautiful fabrics and all sorts of bits and bobs. I got some really nice bright yellow cotton for a pretty bargain price here. I'd highly recommend scouting this shop out, and the fact that its smack bang in the middle of a street full of fabric shops is a massive plus. 
The second shop was 'Mercerie Saint-Pierre', just round the corner. Ok so if you're looking for this place, don't walk into the 5-storey fabric shop (no really!!!) with a very similar name, this is the shop next door. Quite a random shop, so much ribbon! Not the biggest yarn selection, but a very interesting one. I got some strange blue straw type yarn (I think its raffia but I'm not 100% sure). I got confused by the strange payment system where you're supposed to get a ticket first, but that might be just for ribbons and things. A good shop if you fancy finding something to inspire you
So, third shop in this area, 'Laines' (although my research suggested it was called 'Chatmaille', maybe an old name, or maybe there was another shop I missed). It was quite a strange shop, as it had signs all over the place saying not to touch the yarns (from my dodgy French I think I read it may be because of problems with kids messing with them in the past, but still it comes across as a bit off-putting). It's a pretty small shop, its got a nice selection of yarns but not really anything you couldn't find elsewhere. I saw some stuff that I liked the look of, but even though it was in the sale area the price was still too much, so we moved on.
Next was 'La Comptoir', this was a very pretty shop, outside and in it had a very nostalgic look about it. The lady in this shop gave us a smile as we came in, but still it was a little disappointing. She had some interesting looking yarns, and I was very tempted by some more cottons - but it was all on very high shelves, and it was very very cramped as there were tables with kits on taking up all the floor space in whats already a small shop. The moment another couple came in we felt we should leave as there wasn't enough room. I got the impression the owner would have been accommodating if I wanted something, but we didn't stick around too long. Maybe one for those who aren't of a nervous disposition or value their personal space, but probably still worth a look if you're in the area. So we headed off to the next place, heading into the lower Belleville/Marais & Bastille areas
Now, here's a shop I can be positive about - 'Cat L'aine'. Fantastic shop, choc full of yarn and only yarn. Some very nice sparkly cottons and wool I'd never seen before. Also, the owner was incredibly nice. I think she was the first person to actually ask if we needed any help, and even though I struggled with French and she struggled with English she made the effort to talk to me. This is probably my most recommended shop, its down a very quiet street so you have to search it out, but its well worth it! Here's a shot of about a quarter of the shop
I was good and only got myself some nice sparkly white yarn, but I could've easily spent a small fortune in there. After that we headed off to the shop we'd heard the most reviews about....
...'La droguerie'. This was one hell of a crazy shop! The place was huge, we spent a while just having a look around and being totally overwhelmed. They have a great range of their own yarns, tons of beautiful ribbons and buttons, a back section with tons of fantastic looking fabrics, and in the room next to all this was a whole other room absolutely filled with jars of beads and bits. It was a bit confusing with the buying process, once you'd decided what you wanted, you had to ask someone for help, tell them what you wanted, they'd wind off the yarn for you and collect anything else, then they get a ticket with the amount it'll cost you, and you go and pay someone else at a counter! And if you want beads there was a separate kiosk for that. Still this was a beautiful and amazing shop (unfortunately they operate a no camera policy, tempting as it was to get some shots of the wool and beads). If you're in Paris you definitely should go there, its like stepping into a whole other world of craft and wonder! After this we only had one more shop left on our list.....
...'Lil Weasel', again a great shop. It's in one of the old shopping arcades, and although it was small it had a great range, all laid out in colour rather than brand which made for an interesting way of selecting your wool. They had a lot of the standard stuff but also some nice French stuff like Fonty wool, as well as some really nice bits of fabric and some cottons. The place had a really nice vibe and the ladies in the shop seemed very happy and friendly, I even got 15% off my purchases as apparently it was 'world knitting day' (I had no idea of this until I came to pay). Again I'd recommend this place, and its also in what seemed to be quite a nice area.
So I had a pretty great time checking out the wool shops of Paris. I was relatively restrained with my spending but came back with a pretty nice stash, mostly consisting of cottons, as well as a few bits and bobs like buttons and fabric (not pictured). There were other places that we had on our list, but other than one place in the far south of Paris the rest seemed to be chain or department stores. If you're wanting to find locations of any of these shops, or fancy planing your own 'yarn crawl', I recommend using a great site called 'knitmap.com' to research places.

6 comments:

  1. You've done such a great review I think I'll definitely have to go to Paris for some stash expanding! Eiffel tower is so touristy, yarn shops are way better!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fabulous research! Sounds like you had a great time! I always look out independent yarn shops wherever I find myself and feel compelled to buy something in an effort to keep them going.
    You should publish your research in one of the craft magazines! Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well done, there are some shops here I didn't know about, lots of thanks. I agree with you about La Droguerie: this is a magic place, I used to buy beads from them when I lived in Paris.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks so much for writing this up! I did a google search and this came up...
    I'm off to Paris next weekend so these recommendations are great :)

    Also - strangely I saw your business card in John Lewis a couple of weeks ago. Cute design!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much for this post! Headed to Paris this weekend and I want to get some yarn as a different souvenir, but I had no idea where to start. So excited to check out some of these.

    ReplyDelete