A few scraps

There’s a lot you can do with a few scraps of fabric or the unused yards from a skein of wool.  In the spirit of using up left-overs to make something useful we’ve assembled a few bits and bobs of information for a blog post to help if you’re planning a trip to Paris – think of these as a few scraps for the memory blanket.

Jours fériés – Bank Holidays – Public Holidays – Closed days

Many, if not most, of the stores we’ve introduced you to on the pages of Stitching up Paris, or here on the blog, are delightfully individual small businesses. In France this means they’ll close on public holidays, (les jours fériés), sometimes randomly at any other time, and for 3 or more weeks in July or August for summer holidays.

We know May is a popular time to travel – who doesn’t love spring in Paris – and there are several jours fériés in May.  If you’re a detailed planner who likes every segment of the day pinned in place in advance, make a note of these dates to avoid being disappointed if your intended destination is closed.  If you are planning a Stitching up Paris tour these public holidays may not be ideal dates because of the closures so check out alternate tour options.

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Fête du Muguet street stall

  • May 1st Labour Day and Lily of the Valley day (Fête du Travail, Fête du Muguet)
  • May 8th VE Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945)
  • Ascension Day (l’Ascension), date varies but always a Thursday 40 days after Easter (will be 30 May in 2019)

Talking of Easter; Good Friday is not a holiday in France, (unless you are in Alsace or Moselle) but Easter Monday is.  Easter Monday occurs on 22 April in 2019.

  • Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte), date varies always 50 days after Easter so may occur in June some years (will be 10 June in 2019)

Then there are other public holidays to be aware of:

  • August 15thAssumption Day (l’ Assomption)
  • November 1stAll Saints Day (la Toussaint)

But, December 26, Boxing Day, is not a public holiday.

Always check social media for announcements about holiday closures and fermetures exceptionelles.

 

Daily neighborhood markets

Every arrondissement in Paris has a number of regular neighborhood markets throughout the year. Canopies are set up early morning, tables are laden with seasonal produce – in spring whole platoons of asparagus line up for inspection – and for a few hours the scene buzzes with business. Merchants shout out the best buys of the day, then everything is dismantled and shifted away ready for the next quartier on the weekly schedule. Before long only a few tatty lettuce leaves, a pile of melting ice from the fishmongers stall, and crumbs from crunchy baguettes are left behind as evidence. Experiencing a market, jostling elbow to elbow with the locals is well worth the effort.

Some markets specialize in other goods, such as a creators market, flea markets for bric-a-brac, vintage and collectibles, markets for ancient books and papers, and markets for postcards and stamps and of course flower markets.

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La Mercerie Voyageuse

La Mercerie Voyageuse is a regular purveyor of haberdashery with a mix of new and vintage items; old threads, lace trims and old sewing patterns to name a few.

Find her on these days at these locations (most of the time):

  • Wednesdays at Edgar Quinet market, near 58 boulevard Edgar Quinet
  • Thursdays at Bastille market, 3 boulevard Richard Lenoir
  • Fridays at Daumesnil market, at number 27 avenue Daumesnil, opposite boulevard de Reuilly

Other markets specialize in organic produce; the Saturday market on boulevard Batignolles and Sunday market on boulevard Raspail are two well stocked ones.

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Organic produce market on Boulevard Batignolles

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Herb stall at Marche Batignolles

Secrets of Paris provides information about these two markets, and a list of other interesting markets, or check out the Paris city council’s full market list.

 

Regular knitting meet ups in Paris

If you’d like to join in with a knitting group while in Paris check out the Tricoteraparis (aka Knitting in Paris) information on Facebook or Instagram

 

 

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Last ring of the bell…..

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Our conversations with the proprietors of the stores we introduced you to in Stitching up Paris are often about their stores, their crafting passions, their families and interesting snippets of history about their neighbourhoods.  At Le Comptoir (featured on page 17 of our book) we never fail to admire the beautiful wooden fittings; in particular the sturdy counter, and  imagine how the shop might have been in its’ previous incarnation as a tailor’s located just a Parisian’s stroll away from some of the city’s beloved covered passages.

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Now it is with real sadness that we say farewell to this store, loved for its yarns, fabrics and haberdashery supplies. But times change in delightful ways and the charming owner of Le Comptoir has a bonny new project to focus on.

We don’t know what sort of store might materialize in this lovely inner city neighbourhood, but we’ll keep you posted of course. The store will close on 13 July.

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We wish Barbara, the proprietor, and her family all the very best for the future. Keiry has very fond memories of cycling along to Le Comptoir when she first arrived in Paris and taking the plunge to try and speak in French when buying some Fonty yarn (a loved french brand) for a project. Barbara was very helpful and the yarn purchase a success!

When the door closes, we hope that it is not the last ding of the bell for this charming spot that has a long history with fabric and haberdashery and artisan craft.

 

 

 

Rue de Choiseul

In Stitching up Paris we take you to rue de Choiseul for a treasure trove of old fashioned haberdashery at one of our all time favourite stores: Ultramod. This street is much more than a one-shop stop on a stitcher’s day out in Paris. Around this cosy neighbourhood we’ve got snippets of history and architecture, and a story of socially minded entrepreneurship to share with you.

Opposite the metro station (on rue de Quatre Septembre) look to your right for the large Haussmannian building now called Le Centorial (currently trussed up with scaffolding for another facelift).

Le Credit Lyonnais

It is part of the original magnificent headquarters of Credit Lyonnais that was constructed between 1876 and 1883 on the prime corner block facing rue de Quatre-Septembre, bound by rue Gramont and rue de Choiseul on the sides and running right through to boulevard des Italiens. It is no longer the bank’s HQ, and following a large fire in 1996 the building was split into separate portions as part of the repair project. Earlier that year the building was used as the department store film set for the movie Le Cri de la Soie (mentioned on page 35 of Stitching up Paris). Funnily enough the original building was designed in such a way that it could have been converted to a department store in the event of bankruptcy!

The fire is just one of the notable events in the history of this building. On the exterior wall facing rue de Choiseul there is a plaque marking the damage from the explosion of a German “plane bomb” in January 1918. The current re-plastering facelift stops at the bomb scars and frames them, leaving the marks of history clearly visible; a sign of respect in the midst of urban regeneration. The past is always present in Parisian streets.

Credit Lyonnais bomb scars

Bomb d'avion

The bank building was designed from the outset to impress its customers and the public; it was open to anyone and was so popular visitors required a ticket. While it is no longer officially open to the public it is possible to enter up the steps on rue de Quatre Septembre, go through the first doors and stand in front of the security desk where you can see into the lobby behind the large glass doors. The security guard will greet you with typical French politesse and allow you to peer through the glass doors into the huge hall where light streams in from the arched dome above. The metal frame of the dome, and the high metal-framed windows were originally built by the engineering workshops of Monsieur Gustave Eiffel. These were some of the historically significant features of the building that were preserved in the post-fire repair project.

Sadly you will only see the unusual double-helix staircase if you are there for business with the companies that have office space in the building. The staircase design was modeled on the one in the famous Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley and allows the same staircase to be used by two people without them meeting each other on the stairs. Historically, one staircase was said to be used for management and the other for employees – and ne’er the twain would meet.

Back outside, cross over rue de Quatre Septembre to the other part of rue de Choiseul and wander down the end of the street to the entrance to Passage Choiseul. Just to the right is café Joyeux. A socially minded entrepreneur has established a number of coffee shops in France all staffed by people with Down Syndrome, autism and other cognitive disabilities. This cheerful cafe is a recent addition to the chain, providing opportunity for the staff to show their capabilities and earn a living.

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The café appears to live up to its name with an atmosphere that is always buzzing with activity and joie de vivre.

Bonne visite…..

 

Vintage Rhodoid buttons at La Droguerie

Right on the Button

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Have you noticed that posts about buttons on social media elicit a flurry of comments about grandmothers’ button tins or jars, fond memories of special buttons, buttons that made certain cardigans and dresses special favourites. It seems that buttons really do “press our buttons”,and we are, like the late Steve Jobs, fond of the perfect button. (Of course he was fond of an entirely different sort of button, but we understand the sentiment.)

Buttons have been special since fashion became fashionable. Not only useful for fastening and making clothes fit, buttons were signs of wealth – status symbols, where the rule of the day was the more buttons the better.

While these days we are not so heavy on the buttons we all know that the right button is worth the hunt. Paris isn’t short of fabulous button purveyors and in our Stitching up Paris guidebook we’ve given you a sample of button heaven in the heart of Montmartre’s fabric district.

Now we’ve got three more button addresses for you to stash in your notebook:

Buttons Paradise
15 rue St Guillaume
Paris 75007

Metro: Rue du Bac or St Germain

www.buttonsparadise.com 

For the English version click the Anglais button at the top right. The blog posts are particularly interesting and cover a range of topics including fashion tips.

Open: Mon, Tue & Thurs 2pm to 7pm, Weds & Fri 10am to 7pm, Closed: Sat & Sun

Sandrine Mettelal’s fabulous boutique is just off boulevard St Germain on the Left Bank. In fact, it’s not far from the new location for France Duval Stalla’s fabric store that we mentioned in our last post. It’s also just a short stroll from the fabulous department store Le Bon Marché and any number of delightful cafes and refreshment stops.

File 14-06-17, 12 18 51 PMAs well as a beautifully curated range of luxury, vintage, contemporary and top-selling buttons you will find stunning button jewelry and buckles. Just to whet your appetite further,  Sandrine has shown Barbara a selection of fabulous vintage buttons including some made of snail shell that were designed by Lucien Weingott – who worked with Schiaparelli.

Sandrine is an experienced connoisseur of buttons and provides excellent advice for choosing buttons.

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Musée de la Nacre et de la Tabletterie
51 rue Roger Salengro
Méru 60110

www.musee-nacre.com
(English translation button top right)

Open: Everyday except Tuesdays 2.30pm to 6.30pm

Meru postcards on mailbagThe Mother of Pearl museum is housed in a 19thcentury button-making factory in the town of Méru. For a (half) day trip out from Paris take the train from Gare du Nord to Beauvais-Le Tréport via Persan stopping at the village of Méru (about 50mins from Paris). Consider taking a taxi from the station to the museum; my map App advises it’s 1.1km away, approximately 15 minutes walk.

The museum is open daily from 2.30pm to 6.30pm (except Tuesdays). Please check the Hours and Access information on the website under the tab “Useful” for annual closing dates and any variations to these opening hours.

There are guided tours, in French, that will give you an idea of the working conditions in the old factory; harsh! There is a boutique on site – after all you might like some little souvenirs to remind you of your expedition to Méru.

 

Mireille Boutonnières
21 rue des Petits Carreaux (3rd floor)
Paris 75002

Metro: Sentier (exit rue des Petits Carreaux)

Open: Monday to Friday 8am to 2pm

File 16-04-18, 1 53 05 PMIf you are on the hunt for buttons, chances are you may want buttonholes too. Here is a great address for stress-free buttonholes made tout de suite and it’s right in the centre of the fashion capital where rue des Petits Carreaux becomes rue Montorgueil (featured in Neighbourhood Notes page 73 Stitching up Paris guidebook).

Drop in to this tiny workshop, the entrance is right next door to Starbucks, between 8am and 2pm any weekday and Monsieur Mireille (junior) will make buttonholes, covered buttons, eyelets, and popper buttons for you on the spot at a very reasonable price.  What’s more, you’ll likely see a genuine side of Parisian sewing life: young men and women with their cosplay outfits, independent fashion designers, young sewists with their tote bags, and clever seamstresses bringing their latest self-made winter coats, all of them know the best address for stress-free, perfectly professional finishing touches.

You’ll need to have the placement of the buttonholes marked on your finished garment, know the size of the buttonhole you need (take your buttons) and your piece of fabric chosen for covered buttons.

As always, bon voyage!

PS: the fabulous vintage Rhodoid buttons in the top photograph (and the single button picture) are from La Droguerie in Paris.

La Clarière in Paris has vintage mother-of-pearl buttons and gave us the old French Post bag.

 

 

 

Update your Paris address book

Since we published Stitching up Paris there have been a few changes of address that bring some exciting shop expansions.

We’ll continue to keep you right up to date with new or changed addresses by posting updates here on our blog and on social media.  Stash these away for your next trip to Paris because the stitching scene just keeps getting better and, as we’ve noted before, “Paris is always a good idea.”

La Bien Aimée – now at 89 avenue d’Italie, Paris 75013

Nearest Metro:  Tolbiac or Maison Blanche

Open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm

Still as bright as sunshine and beautiful as ever, but with even more space for La Bien Aimée’s highly coveted hand-dyed-in-Paris yarns,  Aimée’s new shop is located on the busy Avenue d’ Italie at number 89.

This new store and expanded dyeing studio is still in the same neighbourhood of the 13th arrondissement as the sister store L’Oisivethé (at the corner of rue Butte aux Cailles and rue Marie Jego), and is about a 10-minute walk away. This means you can still call in to La Bien Aimée for some new yarn before walking on to Wednesday knit night at L’Oisivethé to begin casting on.

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France Duval-Stalla – now at 72 rue Mazarine, Paris 75006

Nearest metro:  Mabillon or Odéon

Open Tuesday to Thursday 11am to 7pm

Located at number 72 rue Mazarine, tucked cosily at the back of a pretty little courtyard, France Duval-Stalla’s new boutique is well worth a visit, and not just for the chance to stroll around the Left Bank neighbourhood, perhaps window shopping nearby on beautiful boulevard Saint Germain and stopping at one of its famous cafes.  The new boutique itself is more spacious and there are ever more elegant fabrics and trims – look out for the gorgeous sparkly elastics. France Duval-Stalla offers a programme of demonstrations and classes, which are in French but the teachers often speak English, as do the sales staff.

 

Le Bonheur des Dames 

We hear that Le Bonheur des Dames embroidery boutique at avenue Daumesnil is closing in early April 2018. Their pretty little boutique in Passage Verdeau (number 8) remains open and is as delightful as ever. A visit to the covered passages of Paris is a must-do.

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Weber Métaux

We posted about the change of address for Weber Metaux here.

Remember, always check social media for any changes to opening hours for all stores before you visit. Most boutiques update their Instagram and Facebook accounts with any changes. It is common in Paris for opening hours to change seasonally, or for special occasions and events, and of course many boutiques close for a few weeks in the summer holidays.

Bon voyage!

L’Artisanat Monastique

imageThe Monastery shops throughout France showcase high quality artisan products that come from monasteries and convents. They sell honey, oils, jams, soap, embroidered children’s clothes, household linens, handprinted paper..

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In their Paris shop they also sell old linen and lace for the benefit of their religious orders.  In the cool vaulted cellars there is a wonderful selection of old monogrammed sheets, table linen, nightdresses, lace edgings, dickies, collars, blouses and ecclesiastical linens and embroideries.

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L’Artisanat Monastique

68 bis avenue Denfert Rochereau

75014 Paris

Mon –  Fri  12 – 6.30pm

Sat 2 – 7pm

metro Port Royal

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Weber Metaux

One of the highlights of our book research was exploring the cellars at Weber Metaux in the Marais district.IMG_5477

Then after the book was published, Weber moved to a warehouse not too far away at 66 rue de Turenne.  Having seen the extent of the narrow underground corridors full of potential treasures for imaginative designers and craftspeople we were a little sad to think of the end of an era for the rue de Poitou shop. What a job it must have been to pack up and shift!2017-04-04 16.45.41

To find the new place, look for the entrance way to number 66 rue de Turenne.IMG_0267

Head down the alleyway…..Photo 4-04-17, 4 40 18 PM (1)

Keep going….Photo 4-04-17, 4 39 53 PM (1)

The new warehouse stocks the same interesting array of materials. For the metallic threads and wires, go to the product stands in the right hand corner immediately on entering the shed. For chain mail or any queries ask at the central counter.

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And on your way out don’t miss this courtyard scene…Photo 4-04-17, 4 40 38 PM

Or the traces of stitching that went on before at 66 rue de Turenne.Photo 4-04-17, 4 48 27 PM

If you’re a fan of old doors, there is a beauty just along the road, painted bright blue at the time we visited. IMG_0268

While you are in this neighbourhood you are only a few minutes walk from the Picasso Museum in the beautiful 17th century Hôtel Salé (named for it’s owner of the time who was the salt-tax man – the word for salty in French is salé.)  Exit Weber Metaux onto rue de Turenne and take rue Sainte-Anastase almost opposite the alleyway to arrive at rue de Thorigny near the entrance to the museum.

It’s worth taking a coffee or tea break in the museum’s lovely roof-top cafe overlooking the entrance courtyard. From the rooftop you have a birds eye view of this cosy inner city neighbourhood.P1040539P1040537

The museum re-opened in late 2014 after being closed for 5 years for extensive renovations that doubled the exhibition space allowing many more works to be displayed.

The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 10.30am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 6pm and entry is free on the first Sunday of the month.

Bohin: prized needles

The village of St Sulpice sur Risle is a picturesque little corner of rural Normandy on the banks of the river Risle not far from Aigle. There may even be a haystack or two nearby but you won’t have any trouble finding needles there because it’s the home of the Bohin factory that has been making perfectly smooth sewing needles for almost 185 years. Bohin is the last European manufacturer of sewing notions; needles of every sort, from embroidery needles and glass tipped needles to needles for silk flower makers, taxidermists and sail makers, pins, safety pins and more. They have expanded their range of needlework necessities and kept up with trends to ensure this factory flourishes and the rich heritage of French specialty manufacturing continues.Photo 18-06-16, 1 58 35 PM

For a wonderful day trip you can visit the Bohin factory and museum to see the workshops where needles are being made, learn about the history and tradition of Bohin and buy ever so special Made in France souvenirs from the shop. There is also a needlecraft exhibition space. The factory is about 2 hours from Paris by car, or you can travel by train to Aigle and from the station take a short taxi ride, or make the walk of about 3 kilometres to Saint Sulpice sur Risle. You might like to picnic at one of the spots alongside the river and admire the Normandy cows on the opposite bank.

Opening hours in 2017 from 11 Feb to 5 November, Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Closed Mondays and on 1 May.

Weekends and Public Holidays open 2pm to 6pm.

We strongly recommend that if you can, plan your visit for a weekday when the factory staff are working the machines so that you see the needle making in action. On weekends the manufacturing process is shown on video screens beside the machines.

More details about the museum and factory, exhibitions and visiting hours here.

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Photo 18-06-16, 2 40 00 PMThe Bohin brand is well respected by sewists and embroiderers around the globe; the needles known for being high quality with exceptional polish so that they glide through fabric, making them a favourite of French tailors. The Bohin manufacturing expertise has been growing since 1833 when the factory was established. At the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889 when Monsieur Eiffel was feted for his magnificent tower the Bohin manufacturing company won a Gold Medal for their needles, and again in 1900 at the next Parisian Exposition Universelle for which the Grand and Petit Palais were constructed, Bohin won the Grand Prize for their needles. At the same exhibition other gold medal winners included Campbell’s Soup.

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Win a gift copy of Stitching up Paris

image1Tis the season for gift giving and we’re thinking of you and your stitching friends. If you would like to be in the draw to win a copy for your friend then head over to Stitching up Paris on Facebook or Instagram and enter the draw.

All you need to do is to *like* the Facebook or Instagram post and tag a friend.

On December 17 we will draw the name of one lucky friend and send a copy of our book as a gift from you.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Joyeux Noel from Paris.

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The Champs Elysees is an extravaganza of light and sparkle at Christmas.

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Florists and pastry chefs alike go above and beyond to create magnificent displays.

 

 

St Catherine’s day fun

Saint Catherine’s Day – 25th November – is celebrated in France with a sense of fun. Saint Catherine is the patron saint of unmarried women, lacemakers, milliners, drapers and craftspeople (particularly those using wheels like potters). To honour Saint Catherine it was traditional for dressmakers to create fancy decorative hats and give them to single female friends or work mates to wear for the day. The purpose being to wish them good luck in finding a husband! It has become the day for milliners to show off their hats and hat making skills – often the St Catherine’s day hats are fabulously outrageous. Today it is still celebrated in just a few of the haute couture fashion houses, where staff make fancy hats in green and yellow colours for their young workmates.

In Paris you’ll find a statue of Saint Catherine on the corner of rue de Clery and and rue Poissonniere in the Sentier district. Years ago you might have seen the Catherinettes wearing their hats out in the street making their way to the statue to “pray to Saint Catherine for help in finding a husband.”

 

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p1090154Strictly speaking, a Catherinette is a young woman 25 years of age or more who has not yet married. Along with wearing pretty hats it was also customary for these young single women to send postcards of Saint Catherine to each other too. These lovely vintage cards can sometimes be found in the street markets with Vive Ste Catherine atop a pretty bonneted mademoiselle. In other countries it was traditional to make and eat Cattern cakes.

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In case you are thinking this is hardly in keeping with modern day feminism and the rightful pursuit of gender equality, it’s worth knowing a little more about Saint Catherine. According to legend Saint Catherine of Alexandria was a brilliant young woman of noble birth who went before Emperor Maximus to correct him for worshipping false gods and scolded him for his persecution of Christians. She called him out! He sent scholars and philosophers to argue with her, instead she convinced them of her faith and they converted to Christianity (and were subsequently executed). She might have saved her own life by allowing the Emperor to marry her, but she declined, and died a virgin martyr. Catherine’s punishment was death by torture on a spiked wheel, but the wheel flew apart, so instead she was beheaded. This is where the name of Catherine Wheel fireworks comes from.

So, on Saint Catherine’s day, wear a hat, have some fun and enjoy the legend of a young woman who stood on her principles.