At any time of day, it isn't uncommon to see large tour buses idle in front of Merci, one of the city's most popular home and design shops, as visitors alight, armed with canvas shopping totes and ready credit cards. The store's philanthropic mission brings in droves of both tourists and locals - profits are donated to a charity in Madagscar that aids women and children. It is a veritable feel-good shopping destination.
One caveat: the goods for sale don't come cheap. High-end homewares and designer duds don't match all of our budgets but the space itself is undeniably cool. When I'm feeling strapped for cash and want the Merci experience, I head to their Used Book Café.
Used books, old and new, (available for purchase; inexpensive) lord over this cozy library-inspired café where I go to read, write, people-watch (and play the guessing game of 'what's in that Merci bag?') and rejuvenate with a freshly pressed lemonade. With each sip, a feeling of calm washes over me - a type of zen harder to reach on the bustling streets of Paris. All beverages, hot or cold, are served with a bite-sized piece of cake and a smile.
Go for the mismatched vintage arm chairs, the fresh scones with jam or the American-sized lattes. But on a warm, sun-drenched Paris day, it's the citronnade between shop-hopping that sets you right.