• Michelle Gibson

The Fashion Student’s Guide for Fabric Shopping in Paris

Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world to experience, overflowing with inspiration at every turn. Streets filled with abundant life, vibrant culture, sweet romance, ornate details, architectural history, clever street art, and the smell of fresh baked baguettes in the air. As a Fashion Designer I have always dreamed of visiting Paris one day, but to have the opportunity to live in this magical city for a little under two years is certainly – a dream come true.

However, when I first moved to Paris from America in September 2019 it did not start off as glamorous. My four boxes of sewing supplies including my dress form, serger, sewing machine, notions, tools, and all my collection fabrics were stuck in customs and then rerouted right back to my home sweet home in Maryland. Months of preparing, sketching, designing, and packing all put on hold for two whole years. Lesson learned; confirm your exact apartment address before moving into a new building. Google Maps is not always as hip to the latest construction plans and the future street name changes. Yet after a month of coping and settling into my new home, I was still determined to finish my collection somehow. Paris after all is the fashion capital of the world, so I knew that there had to be a plethora of quality fabrics stores sprinkled throughout this amazing city. Right then I knew it was time to explore!

Now 6 months later, I am happy to say the collection is under way. Thanks to a perfect mini portable sewing machine from Amazon and weekly trips to my favorite fabric market so far – the Marché Saint-Pierre located in the 18th arrondissement near Montmartre. Like any city, you can live there a whole lifetime and not see it all, although while here in Paris I certainly try! This city guide is a list of my personal favorites, and the most popular fabric markets in Paris to visit categorized per arrondissement.

1st Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: La Droguerie

· Open Hours: Sunday-Saturday (12-11pm)

· Closest Metro: Hotel de Ville (line 1 & 11), Saint Paul (line 1)

· Address: 56 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris

· What You’ll Find: finest curated group of high-quality cottons, linens, and rayons, huge department of yarn, trims, buttons, beads, and more!

· Landmarks Nearby: Musée du Louvre, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Jardin des Tuileries, Hotel de Ville, Memorial de la Shoah, Hotel de Soubise, Musée Picasso

2nd Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: Sentier Textile de Paris (Textile trail of Paris)

· Open Hours: locations vary*; Saturday-Monday* (closed), Tuesday-Friday 9am-pm*

· Closest Metros: Sentier (line 3)

· Address: Rue Montorgueil

· What You’ll Find: a nice cluster of 20+ fabric stores

· Landmarks Nearby: Rue Montorgueil Boutiques, Les Halles, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Musee D'Art et D'Histoire du Judaïsme, Musée des Arts et Métiers (Admission is free on Thursday evenings from 6–9:30 pm)

3rd Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: Entrée des Fournisseurs, La Mercerie Parisienne

· Open Hours: Sunday (Closed), Monday-Saturday (10:30am-7pm)

· Closest Metros: Saint-Paul (line 1), Chemin Vert (line 8)

· Address: 8 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris

· What You’ll Find: quaint courtyard, delightful tiny streets, quality cottons, including Liberty lawns, one of the finest collections of trims in the city, section on looms, including a whole area dedicated to Joseph Marie Jacquard, as well as early knitting machines at Musée des Arts et Métiers.

· Landmarks Nearby: Place des Vosges, Hotel Sully, Place de La Bastille, Musée des Arts et Métiers (free on Thursday's from 6–9:30 pm)

4th Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: Petit Pan, Bazar de l’Hötel de Ville

· Open Hours: Sunday & Monday (10:30AM-7:30AM & 3:30-7:30PM), Tuesday-Saturday (10:30AM-7:30PM)

· Closest Metro: Saint-Paul (line 1)

· Address: 76 Rue François Miron, 75004 Paris

· What You’ll Find: Childcare, household linen, decoration, gifts, fabrics, DIY, not much fabric, adorable, multiple retail locations in Paris, one mercerie shop jam-packed with fun brightly colored cottons and laminated cottons, pre-made trims like bias binding, section featuring embroidery, knitting, crochet, some sewing supplies, hardware, including lumber and more!

· Landmarks Nearby: Place des Vosges, Hotel Sully, Memorial de la Shoah, Hotel de Ville, Notre-Dame, L’As du Fallafel (home to the best falafel in the city)

11th Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: Brin de Cousette

· Hours: Sunday (Closed), Monday (Closed), Tuesday-Wednesday (12-7PM), Thursday (3-8:30PM), Friday-Saturday (12-7PM)

· Closest Metro: Charonne (line 9)

· Address: 2 Rue Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris

· What You’ll Find: workshop space, small retail space, nicest selections of indie patterns in Paris, tables and chairs where you can relax over a cup of tea and a piece of cake

· Landmarks Nearby: Faubourg Saint Antoine, Opéra Bastille, Place de la Bastille, Marché d'Aligre, East Side Burgers (100% vegetarian and vegan)

12th Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: Malhia Kent

· Hours: Sunday (Closed), Monday (Closed), Tuesday-Friday (10AM-2PM & 3-7PM), Saturday (11AM-2PM & 3-7PM)

· Closest Metros: Ledru-Rollin (line 8), Paris Gare de Lyon (line 1)

· Address: 19 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris

· What You’ll Find: Gorgeous yarn used to create beautiful woven designs, Malhia Kent weaves all their own fabrics, for their own line of ready-to-wear garments, and for high-end designers as well, elegant solids to the most bizarre neons, woven with plastic, leather, fringe, and more!

· Landmarks Nearby: Coulée verte René-Dumont, Faubourg Saint Antoine, Opéra Bastille, Place de la Bastille, Marché d'Aligre, Bois du Vincennes

14th Arrondissement

· Stores to Visit: Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, Marché du Livre Ancien et d'Occasion

· Open Hours: Friday-Monday (10AM-1PM), Tuesday-Thursday (closed)

· Closest Metro: Porte de Clignancourt

· Address: 132-140 Rue des Rosiers, 75018

· What You’ll Find: vintage fashion magazines, (second hand shops) brocantes, biggest flea market in all of Europe, quality buttons, trims, vintage patterns, sometimes fabric, vintage and used book market

· Landmarks Nearby: Montmartre

16th Arrondissement

· Museums to Visit: Palais Galliera (formally known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris & Musée Galliera), Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, Palais de Tokyo (free), Paris Museum of Modern Art (free)

· Open Hours: locations vary*; Friday-Monday* (closed), Tuesday-Thursday (11AM-6PM)*

· Closest Metro: Alma-Marceau (line 9)

· Address: 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris

· What You’ll Find: inspiration, impressive collections, modern and contemporary art collections, rotating exhibitions

· Landmarks Nearby: Seine, Tower Eiffel, Palais Tokyo, Paris Museum of Modern Art, Musée Guimet, Trocadero, Musée de Quai-Branly, Invalides, Musée Rodin, Champs-Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Place de la Concorde

18th Arrondissement

· Shops to Visit: Marché Saint-Pierre, Dreyfus, Tissus Reine, Moline Mercerie Sacré Coupons, Toto

· Hours: Sunday (Closed), Monday-Friday (10AM-6:30PM), Saturday (10AM-7PM)

· Closest Metros: Anvers (line 2), Barbès Rochechouart (line 2&4)

· Address: 2 Rue Charles Nodier, 75018 Paris

· What You’ll Find: a wide range of shops, from stores selling all kinds of random fabrics in bulk to finer retailers with organized departments, six-story shop with departments for home décor fabrics, quilting cottons, linens, home décor add-ons, like pillow inserts, accessories for making drapes, French linen towel fabrics by the roll, loads of fancy garment making fabrics, Liberty lawn cottons, high-end wools, a huge pattern department, largest selection of creative notions, gorgeous waxed African-printed fabric and more!

· Landmarks Nearby: Sacré-Cœur, Halle Saint-Pierre, Musée de Montmartre, L'église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, Place du Tertre

BONUS: Practice Your French!

For a bonus, even if your French is a work in progress, be sure to familiarize yourself with some of the common translations throughout the markets. One word you will see in many of these shops is “coupon.” This is a conjugation of the French verb “couper,” which translates to “cut” or “cut off” in English. In French, this is the word for a small cut, or remnant, though here you will find that a “coupon” is typically around three yards—much larger than what most consider a remnant size and is such a great bargain! Other helpful translations include fabric as “le tissu”, silk as “soie”, cotton as “coton”, synthetic as “synthétique”, polyester as “polyester”, nylon as “nylon”, spandex as “spandex”, wool as “la laine”, rayon as “rayonne”, linen as “lin”, cashmere as “cachemire”, lace as “dentelle”, chiffon as “mousseline de soie”, tulle as “tulle”, and organza as “organza”.

And when it comes to your notions and tools it is good to know thread as “fil”, button as “bouton”, snaps as “s'enclenche”, beads as “perles”, zipper as “fermeture éclair”, shoulder pad as “epaulette”, clothing liner as “doublure de vêtements”, fabric interfacing as “en tissu interface”, ruler as “règle”, dress form as “forme de robe”, tape measure as “mètre à ruban”, scissor as “ciseaux”, rotary cutter as “couteau rotatif“, seam ripper as “découseur”, markers as “marqueurs”, lead pencil as “crayon à papier”, pin cushion as “pelote à épingles”, sewing machine as “machine à coudre”, serger machine as “surjeteuse”, bobbin as “bobine”, sewing pin as “épingle à coudre”, tailor chalk as “craie sur mesure”, iron as “le fer”, meter as “mètre”, and sewing pattern as “patron de couture”.

Have you discovered any more new gems along your travels throughout Paris's fabric markets? If so, I would love to hear to your adventure stories. Feel free to share via Instagram @_Michelle_Charise_. Until then enjoy, and happy sewing!

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