When Benoît Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli – co-founders of Astier de Villatte – bought and saved one of the last typesetters in France to use metal printing plates and linotype machines, they decided to embark on a project worthy of their wares. The result is Ma Vie à Paris, the duo’s ultimate guide to the City of Light.
While the directory reveals their secret and favorite sources for fabrics, chocolates, pottery, and more, it’s the treatment of the volume itself that will really take your breath away. Far from your typical paperback guidebook, the 349 gold-edged pages feature hand-drawn maps and black-and-white photos, all held together with a museum-quality binding.
On the heels of the French version, a newly released English edition highlights even more addresses—many unknown to even the most intrepid lover of Gallic culture. Scroll down to see a few of the pair’s sample listings.
At this flea market in the 14th arrondissement, “300–400 vendors unwrap their treasures in the open air twice a week and offer well-chosen merchandise at reasonable prices, so much so that they have made these the most popular alleyways in the capital for lovers of pretty antique markets,” write the authors. Here, you may find a pair of 1930 Lloyd Loom chairs or illustrated editions of well-loved paperbacks sold by a retired history teacher. avenue Marc Sangnier and avenue Georges Lafenestre.
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Clarisse Béraud discovered her passion for flowers when a mentor revealed the secrets of the floral arts to her. “She loves delicate plants, lost flowers, or those that don’t necessarily last long but whose fragility is compensated by a great evocative power, like rural or simple flowers from the garden of a parish priest, which bring the tranquility of provincial life to Paris,” they write. 12 rue de la Sourdière.
Au Chat Bleu
More than a century ago, a blue Persian cat—or Chartreux, nobody is sure—became the mascot of this small confectionery owned by two sisters. “Now in a former tearoom in Paris, decorated in soft and tender shades, Au Chat Bleu offers the same chocolates—all made in Picardie with fine products and quality ingredients—as the ones it sells in the town where it was born,” the book notes. 85 boulevard Haussmann.
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Stroll through Montmartre to visit Dreyfus, the world-renowned fabric emporium that’s been a neighborhood stalwart since the 1920s. The six-floor building is stocked with textiles in every style, including madras cotton and mattress fabric, suedette and taffeta, for any project you have at hand, from designing a wedding dress to upholstering an Art Deco sofa or a screen. 2 rue Charles Nodier.
Cheese lovers will appreciate the dedication this shop shows to its craft. Here, you’ll find a selection from the Saint-Nicolas de la Dalmerie monastery, where eight monks make the revered goat cheese, or Marcel Petite, where production takes place in a 19th-century fortress in the Haut-Doubs forest. Once delivered to Paris, the cheeses are then matured in Laurent Dubois’s cellars and sold in vacuum packs for an easy plane ride home. 47 ter boulevard Saint-Germain.
La Tuile à Loup
Pottery artisans all over France—from Alsace and the Camargue to Normandy and Provence—send their wares to this shop in the 5th arrondissement and, “through their savoir-faire, keep a certain kind of folk art alive.” Peruse a collection of plates and bowls in mixed clays, cups in colored enamel, and oven dishes painted with folk patterns. 33 rue Daubenton.
This cozy stationer in the 6th arrondissement is well stocked and welcoming with its elegant marble window “exhibiting everything for school pupils, business people, secretaries, or even a retiree who wants to write a letter, draw a picture, make up a bill, produce a dissertation, or create some origami.”
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