Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Crafter's Guide to Paris, Part 1

A photo I took in Paris last time I was here, 5 years ago.

My husband and I were offered the opportunity for him to teach in France for the summer. So, we packed our bags and left almost a week before we were scheduled to be in Metz, where he will be teaching. We flew into Paris and spent the first few days there.

It was so difficult to find a good source of information on where I could get craft materials in Paris, so hopefully this guide will offer some good places to start. Let me begin by explaining that Paris doesn't see crafting the way Americans do. In fact, at one store, I spoke with a woman who knew of only that store offering anything similar to "craft". 

In my experience at the boutiques, the pricing is based per bead. That's right. Unless you are at a supplier, you pay per bead. This means that you put a lot of love, money, and time into creating the perfect accessory that represents you. When you can walk down to H&M and lay down 13 for a cool necklace, why should you spend this much effort in creating your own jewelry? This is why I think they have small numbers of craft stores: Availability.

Don't be discouraged, however, as the sampling of stores that they do have are very unique.

An advantage for a tourist who like jewelry making is that the suppliers for these stores are not the suppliers for your stores. This creates and opportunity to get some really unique items for your creations.

If you plan on making jewelry in Paris, the best advice that I can offer is that you bring your own findings. Stock up on jump rings, jewelry clasps, your stringing preferences, and your own tools. Findings are very expensive in Paris and are often sold per item. For example, a single jump ring at La Drogerie could put you back 0,30€ (about $0.36).

- "Loisirs" (law-zeer) literally means "leisure". It refers to anything you can do in your spare time, like hobbies. "Loisirs Creatifs" refers to what we consider crafting in America.
- "Breloque" means charms
- "Anneaux" (ah-neu) means rings, like jump rings (or even rings you wear on your fingers)
- "Tiges" are headpins
- "Fermoirs" (fer-mwah) are clasps
- "Perles a Ecraser" are bead crimpers
- "Rubans" are ribbon crimps (the tooth kind)
- "Cordons" are crimp cords (the fold over kind)
- "Mercerie" (mer-cer-eey) refers to knitting, crocheting, etc. Most yarn type crafts.
- "Perles" (perls) literally means "pearls", but refers to beads, findings for jewelry making.
- "Beaux-arts" (bow-arts) refers to traditional art-making materials, like canvas, paints, etc.
- "Loisirs Créatifs" (law-zeer creatifs) means something along the lines of making creative things when you have free time. Most 'loisirs créatifs' refers to children's art activities, like those silly little kits to make toys, etc.

Find your own store:
This website has a fantastic directory of craft-like stores throughout France... Includes addresses, phone numbers, and an idea of what that store sells:

If you have Google Chrome (a web browser) installed, it will automatically translate French pages to English for you. It makes viewing the French websites much easier. If you would like to learn more or download Google Chrome, click here.

My Guide to Pricing:
$- Reasonably Priced
$$- Pricey
$$$- Very Expensive

La Drogerie- $$
9-11, Rue du Jour 75001 Paris
Monday from 2-6:45pm, Tuesday through Saturday 10:30-6:45

Image via

Located at Forum Les Halles on the Metro. Right next to the Saint Eustace Cathedral. There's a pub with a green awning next door, and La Drogerie has rainbow squares going around the entrance.

La Drogerie has the largest selection of beautiful yarns hanging off of the walls when you first walk in. They sell all sorts of goodies: charms, buttons, faux flowers, trim, and (most importantly) beads! The beads are in mason jars all along the wall of a room in the store. There's a catch, though: You have to wait in line to have an associate help you choose out your beads. Depending on the time of day, you could be waiting a while. The associates write down how many beads you get and which type, only a few of them speak limited English. This store has some really good idea books on jewelry making, but the prices do add up quick.

Here are some things that I saw:
- Belt Buckles
- Purse Handles
- Bezels
- Charms
- Beads (Naturals, Resin, Glass, etc.)
- Yarn
- Buttons
- Berets
- Trim
- Ribbons
- Jewelry Making Tools
- Findings (Jump Rings, Cord Crimps, Etc)
- Chain
- Tassels
- Mobile Kits
- Swarovski Crystals
- Knitting Needles
- Faux Flowers (including Tiny Mushrooms, Styrofoam Birds, etc)
- Wire
- Cabochons
Image via

The Verdict: Unless you're an avid knitter/sewer, you can pass on this one. They have some unique but expensive beading items, if you're up for waiting in line.

Visit their website here.

Tout á Loisirs- $$/$$$
50, Rue du Archives 75004 Paris
Their website says Monday through Saturday from 10:30am to 7:00pm, but they take a break around 2 for an hour or so.

Tout á Loisirs
You can access this store by either the Hotel de Ville or Rambuteau stop on the Paris Metro. It's just around the corner from the Paris National Archives.

Tout a Loisirs on Rue du Archives is another charge-by-the-bead store. You could spend all day going through this place and still not have seen everything. They color coordinate their beads in the store, so the greens are with the other greens, etc. The average bead price is around 2,50€ a bead, but it goes up and down depending on what you want. They sell charms, too, at very reasonable prices (0,50€ - $0.60 and up), gemstone chips (like agate) for around 6,50€, and all sorts of goodies from around the world.

The people here speak no English. They will try hard to help you, though.

Here are some things that I saw:
- Chinese beads (including Buddhas, carved red stones, etc)
- African metal pendants and beads
- Indian Deity charms
- Gemstone beads
- Drilled Teeth!
- Pom Pons
- Tiny, colorful tassels
- Sequins
- Trim
- Ribbons
- Charms in brass, gold, and silver colors
- Jewelry Findings
- Swarovski Crystals
- Cabochons

You can get a better idea of what they sell here.

The Verdict: If you're a jewelry maker, you seriously can't miss this place. They had a larger, albeit more expensive, selection than La Drogerie.

They also have a store nearby which does beading wholesale. I'll be visiting it/reviewing it in July. It's address is 77, Rue du Temple

Loisirs et Création $
3, Cour Saint-Emilion  
Monday-Sunday, 11:00am-9:00pm

You can access this store by getting off at the Saint-Emilion stop on the Paris Metro. Just outside of the station is an old train station which has been converted into a shopping area, called Bercy Village. Loisirs et Création is closest to the movie theater. There is also a store a few spots down on the same strip called Arteum, which is essentially an art museum gift shop without the art museum. Lots of fun inspiration there, and convenient, too, as they hold the same hours as Losirs et Création. Arteum's website holds only a sliver of what they have in store.

Loisirs et Création is the closest thing that you'll find to a Michael's store in Paris. They sell all kinds of art making materials... ranging from paints to home goods, paper mache, buttons, ribbons, scrapbooking materials, felt, canvas, portfolios, children's kits, and even wedding supplies. It's a fun place to find unique resources for crafts. For example, I found wood chip rounds in the scrapbooking department which I plan on using with my woodburner. Their prices are the most reasonable that I've seen in Paris so far.

The Verdict: Worth a stop. The area is unique and there's lots to see in the store. This is a great place to stock up on crafting goodies!

Visit their website here. They also have locations in Marseille, Rouen, Lyon, Strausbourg, Nice, Le Havre, Boulogne-Billancourt, Créteil, Parly, and Evry. Find out more about those stores here.

One thing that I have found is that generic art supplies can be found in many supermarkets (supermarché/hypermarché) and department stores. Here's a short list of a few of those places where I've seen art supplies:

- BHV, a department store at Hotel de Ville in the heart of Paris. They sell lots of art supplies, if you're willing to fork out the cash. Glitter, feathers, canvas, paint brushes, paints, bezels, children's kits... you name it. Some of it is unique to the store.

- Cora, a Wal-Mart-like chain throughout France. Cora has canvas, paints (including €2,99 decent quality acrylics), watercolors, gouaches, sketchbooks, portfolios, colored pencils, paint brushes... It's worth mentioning that their gift wrap and kitchen area (i.e. the cake decorating items that are near knives, etc and not the baking area like they are in the US) have some interesting items that crafters might want to snag. Prices are reasonable.

- Simply Market, a grocery store throughout France. Not as big of a selection as Cora, but they, too, have basic painting items (what is it with the French and having a ton of Gouache?) and colored pencils, markers, those types of things. In my experience, each Simply Market is stocked differently. From what I have read, each grocery store is independently owned and operated, so the owners choose what inventory they want. One Simply or Cora might have something that others do not.

- Eurodif, a department store that sells clothing, home items, and lots and lots of fabrics, trims, and some crafting supplies. I've seen tassels, wedding items, large test tubes, and other random crafting knick-knacks.

Want to find out more about these places and more? Here are the websites where I got started:


I will be posting A Crafter's Guide to Paris, Part 2 in July, when I visit a lot more crafting stores. Since this initial visit, I have found almost 20 other craft suppliers to go to next time I am in Paris.

Á bientôt!

1 comment:

  1. the Bercy Village store has closed