Monday (er, mardi) à la Mode

Greetings from the French countryside! We arrived in Normandy on Saturday for a nine day stay. Despite soggy, gray skies, so far so wonderful. Later this week, I’ll fill you in on the restored 17th century farmhouse where we’re staying. In a word, dreamy.

For now, as promised, I wanted to share two great boutiques I discovered recently while touring the city by bike. (More on my Velib’ adventure later…) Last week, I wrote about spring’s vintage-inspired trend. It seems that more and more Paris boutiques are embracing the concept in the form of upscale second hand shops. We’re not talking here about Goodwill style racks of malodorous cast-offs, but hand-selected items passed on by chic Parisians looking for a few extra euros in their mini-sacs.

The French resale shop (depot vente) is certainly nothing new; they can be found in every quartier. But these two shops have taken the concept and given it new life. The best news of all? Fabulous, fashionable, like-new quality items for a mere fraction of retail. What’s not to love?

Violette et Leoni (27, rue de Poitue and 1, rue de Saintonge, 75003) in the upper Marais bills itself as a resale “concept store” and sells only current styles and great brands like Parisian favorites Maje, Sandro and APC plus a meticulously curated vintage selection. It’s actually two shops located around the corner from one another both carrying a similar selection of women’s clothing and accessories. (The rue de Saintonge outpost also has some menswear.) It’s not the place to score Chanel or Vuitton but the perfect place for current, seasonal styles to update your wardrobe at seriously great prices. I spotted a Paul & Joe top for 40 euros and a Zadig & Voltaire sundress for 55. Both steals in like-new condition. Prepare to ignore a bit of attitude from the salespeople and focus instead on the great goodies. You can even shop online – they ship internationally! Here are some tempting items I’m coveting on their website.

Cute, huh? And really good prices, too. 

Now imagine shopping in the home of your most stylish friend. That’s what it feels like to enter Les Gignettes (4, rue du Sabot, 75006) and browse the hand-picked items that include labels like Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno and Balenciaga alongside the very best of Zara and H&M. Housed in a super charming 17th century building, you’ll also find framed art, home decor and some unopened cosmetics and perfumes at half price. (I scored a NARS lip gloss for 11 euros). Stop by on Saturdays and linger over mint tea or attend one of the regularly scheduled art openings. Details (and tempting photos) at LesGignettes.net.

The downside of these shops of course, is the limited selection of sizes. With just one of everything, either it fits or it doesn’t. Great bags, scarves and carefully selected jewelry however, offer ample consolation if you don’t “trouvez votre bonheur” (“find your happiness,” as the French shopping saying goes). But when you do score that coveted item in the perfect style and size, quel bonheur! Happy shopping.

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