Rue Charlot in the Marais is a magnet for a new generation of rushed-off-their-feet urbanites with demanding palates. From a decent cafeteria to a high-brow Danish design gallery, or an organic snackery, everything is just a step away - Merci loves it!
No. 6: The Ateliers de lutherie Vents-Bois (A.L.V.) sells and repairs oboes, bassoons, saxophones, clarinets and flutes. String-instrument-maker and devoted musicologist Guy Collin’s lovely lair is a bolt hole for musicians and collectors alike. Visitors are advised to call first:
+33 (0)1 42 78 46 30).
No.9: Passage de Retz, set snuggly in the former town house of the same name, is a temporary exhibition space designed by Sylvain Dubuisson, who has managed to keep the character of its gorgeous rooms perfectly intact. The cosy café and store are the work of Christian Biecher.
No. 11: The Okomusu restaurant serves Japanese specialities from Osaka freshly prepared in an open kitchen by Hiroko Tabuchi, a native of the city. Seated before the long counter or perched at a shared table, test an okonomiyaki (pancake filled with pork, prawns and green cabbage), tuck into yaki onigiri (crispy rice balls) or fried noodles, and top it all off with an anko maki (small red-bean pancake).
No.22: The Denise Ren gallery owes its name to the modern art gallery owner who discovered Vasarely and other greats of the geometric abstraction and kinetic art movements. The gallery still exists (see the photo of the Julio le Parc sculpture) and, despite Ren’s death in 2012, keeps her pioneering spirit alive.
No. 28: Matthieu Bijou, a thirtysomething pâtissier and chocolate-maker formerly of Michel Rostang and Taillevent, makes chocolates that look as good as gems! The celebrated Népal (black chocolate and Timut pepper) and “Bali” (lime ganache and candied kumbawa) are among the twenty or so pure-origin chocolates on offer.
No. 31: The Dansk gallery, which opened in 2001, was one of the first to arrive on the street and to select Danish furniture from the 1950s to the 1970s by top architects and designers.
No. 35: Bibovino is a concept developed by four wine enthusiasts with world-class sommelier and wine-taster, Bruno Quenioux. Together, they convinced some fifteen sustainable-agriculture wine-growers to sell their wine in three to five litre “bag-in-boxes”. Not only is the wine more affordable, it keeps for three months without nitrogen, and the packaging is lighter and recyclable.
No. 42: Caractère de Cochon, a purveyor of fine hams, was opened by Solo to bring pig perfection to the capital. Sourced from small producers across Europe, including the Basque Country, Spain, Hungry, the Black Forest, Sicily and Tuscany, the products sold in this temple to all things porcine include andouille sandwiches and ham-and-Bordier-butter rolls – one of the best in Paris!
No. 55: Wild and the Moon is regularly mobbed for its kale crisps, cold-pressed fruit juices and homemade almond milk. The dish of the day is usually dal-based and the quinoa pudding are flavoured with dates and walnuts. According to founder Emma Sawko, all products are organic, vegan and gluten-free. Interior architect Valérie Mazérat has preserved the unique personality of its wonderful setting.
No. 57: Nanashi is a café run by Kaori Endo, who serves up tasty Japanese and Europe fare in bento boxes. Everything here is organic and fresh, with all fruit juices and vegetables prepared to order.
No. 77: The shelves at Skiritif are lined with fat glass jars bursting with dried fruit. Green grapefruit, white blackberries, aloe vera, muskmelon and cranberries share their vitamin-packed stage with a range of other dried fruits and seeds.