Love List

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guide to Vintage Shopping in Paris

Ok I admit actually this is more like a guide to Le Marais, one of my favourite districts in Paris. It's so good that I've been there 3 times during my 1 month stay in Paris and still each time I find new things to look at. Le Marais used to be a jewish district - it still is as there are still the presence of Jewish synagogues and the best falafels ever, but now it has evolved into a hip district with a lot of gay bars that come alive at night.

Le Marais is also the best place to go for indie shops and for digging for vintage treasures. There are numerous thrift stores where you can dig for dirt cheap secondhand clothes that are true blue vintage, or you can get your hands on high end designer vintage from labels like Chanel, YSL and Dior etc. There are also cult labels APC, which sells high quality basics with streamlined design, Zadig & Voltaire and also French designer Isabel Marant.


You can go to Le Marais by getting down at the Hotel de Ville metro station. The first thing you will see is the beautiful Gothic inspired architecture of Hotel de Ville, which has been standing in its original location since 1357. Unfortunately, the building is not the original as it was burnt down in 1871 and subsequently rebuilt in its original style.

Free'p Star on Rue Sainte-croix de la Bretonnerie
Underground cave of treasures
Found this dress with black netting and ribbons sewn in for only 10 euros
Free'p Star
8 rue Sainte-croix de la Bretonnerie, 61 rue de la Verrerie 75004 Paris, 20 rue de Rivoli.
Free'p Star is a must-go for all vintage and thrift lovers. Dirt cheap has been redefined when I got there because seriously, the prices are really next to nothing.
There are 3 outlets all within walking distance of one another -
The Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie one has lots of vintage dresses on the first floor and when you take the narrow spiral staircase down to the cavern like basement, you can find lots of leather jackets at only 20-30 euros, as well as vintage Levi's cutouff shorts. I even found a vintage Versace knitted top (but it was so small it looked like it was made for toddlers) and a Christian Dior shirt (not sure of its authenticity though!).
My favourite is the outlet on Rue de la Verrerie because it has this section on the second floor that has bins and bins of clothes all going for one 1 euro. No big labels there, but you can find some really really cool stuff there - for example: sequinned tank top, organza trench coat, zipper blazers and of course those flowery midi/maxi skirts. I bought 10 pieces there for only 10 euros.
The outlet on rue de Rivoli has lots of beaded/sequinned tops and fur coats in the basement.

Bring a big netted bag when you shop and go on weekday mornings to avoid crowds of bargain hunters and vintage lovers!


I can't recall the address of Vintage Bar, but it stocks some carefully curated pieces, especially shoes, from YSL, Dior and other french designer labels. Worth a visit just to look at them.


Hippy Market
21 rue du Vielle Temple
Hippy Market is really the ultimate destination for everything hippie and flower child boho. Their prices are considerably higher than Free'p Star as their items are all tagged and arranged neatly on racks and in better condition as compared to Free'p Star (that just randomly throws all their stuff). On the day of my visit, the dresses were all going at 10 euros, which makes them really worth buying.
They also have a large selection of vintage accessories - belts, shoes and bags. But the best thing about them is that they revamp their Levi cutoffs so instead of your usual blue washes, you now have ripped ones in indigo, hot pink, neon orange and sky blue.


17 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie
The original LOMO store for all their amazing film cameras! 

Not pictured:
15 Rue de Poitou 75003
Not a vintage shop but it's a really great multi-label boutique stocking Alexander Wang, Chloe, marc by Marc Jacobs and many others. When I was there they had 70% off on selected items so there were those silk pants from A Wang going at only 88 euros. I am still blaming myself today for not getting them.
American Retro
40 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois or BHV just next to Hotel de Ville
Really steep prices - at least 200 euros and above for a top or a bottom, and 300-500 euros for a dress or other big-ticket items, but all extremely extremely beautiful and well designed. I find them slightly similar to Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony. Their lookbook and campaign photos are all very well photographed as well.

Pretty Box

Vintage from the 50s - 80s
46 Rue de Saintonge 75003 Paris
Extremely well-curated shop with vintage pieces in good condition. Everything in this shop was just lovely and some of the leather bags there had such beautiful marks of worn leather.

32 Rue de Rosiers
Vintage dresses all for 10 - 15 euros and vintage Levi's at 10 - 20 euros. Small selection of handbags and leather boots as well.

There are many other random vintage stores or Friperies (thrift stores) around the district as well, you can just walk along the few main streets and discover them along the way like I did:
Rue de Rosiers
Rue de la Verrerie
Rue de Vielle Temple
Rue de Poitou

I also love Le Marais for its amazing falafel, a Jewish sandwich of sorts, and also its Yiddish/Central European cakes and pastires that cannot be found elsewhere in Paris.

The prominently green L'As du Falafel
L'As du Falafel is the best falafel outlet there is in Le Marais, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. For 5 euros, you will get a soft chewy pita bread filled with shredded cabbage, cucumber, bits of grilled eggplant and tomato, vegetarian 'balls' and topped off with a yummy sauce. It is a must-try and there's usually always a queue as both tourists and local french people buy from them. Their queue puts the other falafel shops out of business I swear.

Sacha Finkelsztan's sunny yellow shopfront
Freshly baked breads and cakes
Another extremely good Yiddish/Central European boulangerie
Chez Marianne
The first two boulangeries that I have listed here are must tries, despite many other good ones along the 4 streets I've mentioned previously. That's because they sell authentic Yiddish and Central European breads and cakes that your usual Parisian boulangeries do not have. You need to try those moist apple pie tarts and date cakes that has such a high date content that its aroma lingers on the wrapping paper 1 week after the cake has been eaten.

Chez Marianne is also a good place to get quick bites and also light lunch. (The little green truck parked outside in the photo above is a rubbish truck by the way. I highly doubt you've seen any cuter rubbish trucks.)

That's all on Le Marais from me.
The rest is up to you to discover.


  1. Great tips, great post, great city! I love Paris.
    Thank you for sharing

  2. Ah, I love le Marais. One of the best shopping districts ever. They've just got everything! You're right about the crowds, though, best to go early.

  3. I have to say as a non-French-speaking person, I would be completely intimidated to go thrifting in Paris - but for the chance to find YSL or Chanel, it would be worth it! Plus I would love saying, "Oh yes, I bought this in Paris... " :)

  4. Hey dear,

    congrats on being chosen for this week`s Links a la Mode! Great post.

    Best, Jenny

  5. when i studied abroad in Paris, my classmates and i took weekly trips to snag lunch at the falafel stand in the Marais, there was always a competition between the two across from each other...we always went with who had the shortest line!

    i snagged a scarf, chain-strap bag and liovely pink a line dress at free 'p' star, such a great spot!


  6. This is fantastic! Thank you for this. It beats all those tour guide websites that attempt to name shopping districts for the masses. This is so personalised and I love it :)


  7. Thanks for this great post! I only usually stay at friend's local and we seem to go to Montmarte a lot. This is great news! I'll finally be able to tell them to take me somewhere else!
    Have a great week :)
    Joy x

  8. Found your post via IFB...omg such a great tool. Now I only need to get to Paris!


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  10. One of the countries I need to visit this year.

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