To shop the “Haut Marais”, it’s helpful to understand the English translation. This neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood is the “High Marais”, which literally means it’s north of the heart of this now-touristy (but still charming) quartier. And figuratively, it means it’s more exclusive than its southern parts. Not exactly the haut couture of Avenue Montaigne, but also not your average duds.
Mingling between art galleries and cafes, the Haut Marais is charming, trendy and chockfull of boutiques that offer everything from handmade jewelry to bespoke leather goods the most avant-garde clothing. For the most bang for your buck, concentrate on these three key streets (but, bien sur, feel free to stray and explore the area’s wonderful little corners).
Rue du Vieille du Temple
This street, which runs north, is home to a mélange of well-known French chains and indie boutiques that will have you pinging and ponging from one side of the street to another. For example, if you’re looking for a dress for a summer soirée, don’t miss the finely tailored, sophisticated pieces at Vanessa Bruno (#100) or check the more moderately priced flirty frocks across the street at Stella Forest (#117). CH.IND (#117) is another oasis of femininity, featuring a lovely collection of shirts and blouses. Back to the other side of the street, you’ll find the new store of French handbag maker Louis Quatorze (#106), which features luxurious leather goods in bold colors such as orange, green and blue. The street wear label Surface to Air (#108) also has new digs on rue du Vieille du Temple. Though the men’s collection is much larger at this Parisian flagship, the modern, urban pieces here—as well as a few stores up at A.P.C. (#112) offer simple alternatives to the ruffles and flowers that dominate all the other shops.
Before tackling the trendy boutiques of rue Charlot, fortify yourself with a salmon burger and, more important, glean some fashion pointers from the hipsters at Café Charlot (38, rue de Bretagne). Then take a left (north) to discover a treasure trove of small boutiques and designer ateliers.
Pop into the showroom of fashion-forward Parisian native Gaspard Yurkievich (#43) to check out his pricey sculptural clothing and wild shoes. More modest wares—tote bags, sun hats, blazers, and skirts, made from antique fabrics and recycled military canvas—can be found at rustic-chic boutique Yves Andrieux & Vincent Jalbert (#55). No60 (#60) offers of-the-moment lines such as Chalayan, Margiela and Anne-Valéry Hash, and is flanked by two local designers’ ateliers. Valentine Gauthier’s (#58) creations are slightly avant-garde and perfect for going out, while Korean designer Moon Young Hee (#62) creates complex but whimsical pieces.
Rue de Poitou
With its cozy interior and abundance of soft, beautiful basics, Vénus et Judes (22 rue Debelleyme) is perfect for homebodies looking for loungewear. Next-door neighbors Swildens (#22) and Oxyde (#24) will set you up in summer’s best trends with collections that are heavy on floral prints and light-as-feather cottons. Across the street, partners Laetitia Azpiroz and Cyrille Railliet transform old leather goods into cool new bags and jackets and sell them alongside unique jewelry at Matières à Réflection (#19). From Louboutin platforms to Vuitton backpacks, Violette et Leonie (#27) could very well be where you score your next big label item—since it’s second-hand it won’t drain your bank account.
And, of course, you can’t shop the Haut Marais without a visit to Merci (111 boulevard Beaumarchais). Scoot over to this mini-department store for the best from Acne, Isabel Marant and Chloé, plus wonderful shoes, jewelry, handbags, housewares and second-hand books.