There are certain streets that we come to love in the cities we live in, even though they may seem so mundane and ordinary. In Paris, a street close to my heart is rue des Récollets in the 10th arrondissement. I’ve walked down this street during freezing winter nights and hot summer days, and though I find myself browsing the same shops or having a drink at the same restaurant, I never get tired of it.
At the corner of rue des Récollets and Faubourg Saint Martin stands the ancient convent of the Order of the Récollets. Since the 18th century, the convent has lived many lives, having been used as a hospice, a military hospital, a school of architecture, and an artist space. In 2003 it was renovated and is now la Maison de l’architecture en Ile-de-France (148 rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin 75010), a beautiful space which holds architecture-related expositions in the old chapel. Temporary residences for welcoming artists are also housed in this cultural center. It also has a library and Café A, whose terrace, equipped with deck chairs and parasols, makes it a sought-after hangout, especially in the summer.
Maison de l’architecture en Ile-de-France
Further down the street is Le 29 (29 rue des Récollets), a haven for photography lovers. On the ground floor is an astounding collection of photography-related books. Photo exhibits are hosted here as well.
On the second floor is the Atelier de triage Vikart Studio/Self Color, a self-service printing studio where you can develop your own rolls of film or print out your own photos, paying by the hour for the use of their materials. Four work stations are at your disposal, as well as scanners, huge-format printers and a wide range of papers for your printing needs. If you’re unsure about what you’re doing, a professional is available to assist you. The website has all the pricing information you may need.
Le29, a haven for photography lovers
Once you’re able to pry yourself away from the wonderful world of photography, make your way a few doors down to browse the family-friendly, newly-opened Poule Mouillette (13 rue des Récollets), a charming boutique filled with decorations, gifts ideas and retro toys for the little ones. Following the “poussette-café” concept that is slowly gaining popularity in Paris, it also hosts a salon de thé, and there are even workshops for children.
Anais et Martin (13 rue des Récollets) is a consignment shop for 0-8 year olds. Browse pre-loved children-related accessories; they also have a corner featuring creations and products by various designers.
Shops for the young and the young-at-heart
Whether you are a vinyl collector or just an amateur music lover, make sure to pass by Record Station (13 rue des Récollets), a small store filled to the brim with second-hand soul, blues, 60’s and 70’s rock records. Bask in the expert advice of the dedicated staff and owners.
Duck into Atelier (13 rue des Récollets) for a peek into the studio of ceramic artist Emmanuelle Wittmann. Simple and clean lines, with discreet splashes of colour on white porcelain and stoneware, her creations are a must-have for any contemporary design lover. Atelier also offers group and individual courses for the beginner and the experienced.
Cross the street and you’ll find yourself standing at the side entrance of Jardin Villemin. The military hospital Villemin, built around 1870, used to stand here. The location was strategic, being close enough to Gare de l’Est for the wounded soldiers to be treated quickly. Today it has a playground, a sports area, a pond, and large grassy areas for you to stretch out on. It is a perfect place to finish reading a book or to picnic with friends on a weekend; a veritable oasis of calm in a bustling area.
There are several restaurants and cafés as we draw closer to the end of rue des Récollets, but one worth visiting is Les Enfants Perdus (9 rue des Récollets). Already with a growing cult following, this bohemian-chic restaurant is pricier than its neighbors, but every dish is cooked to perfection, the service is attentive without being overbearing, and they have a nice selection of music. Book in advance as they fill up pretty quickly in the evenings. If you can, try to ask for a table at the back of the restaurant, where you can slouch back on the long cozy bancs with cushions and throw pillows, and a beautiful skylight overhead. They also have a Sunday brunch starting at 12 noon – a delicious four-course affair after which you will most probably find yourself stumbling towards Jardin Villemin for a post-brunch nap!
And finally, at the end of the street, along Quai Valmy fronting Canal St. Martin are the Antoine and Lili shops (95 quai de Valmy), a trio of colourful stores selling quirky home decor and furniture, children’s clothes and accessories, and women’s clothing. These shops make a dangerous destination; their pieces are so endearing and original that you will probably end up with something you hadn’t planned on purchasing.
Antoine et Lili’s colourful display
So the next time you are in the 10th arrondissement and are looking for a dose of culture, rest and relaxation, good food and shopping all in one street, be sure to keep rue des Récollets in mind.
Rue des Récollets [Map]
Metro : Gare de l’Est, Jacques Bonsergeant or Chateau d’Eau
While you’re in the area, be sure to check out Point Ephémère and Cafe Ethicando, or drop by the Saint Martin Covered Market.