I just got back from a trip to Paris and thought I would pass along some of my favorite shops and general design-oriented observations. Before leaving Chicago, I drilled two très stylish shoppers—interior designer Summer Thornton and Jayson Home & Garden merchandising V.P. Devin Kirk—about their favorite spots. At the top of both of their lists was Merci (shown above), so I knew I had to check out.

This store is not particularly close to anything of interest for a tourist, and even when we finally found the address, I almost walked right by it because it showed no indication of being a store. Based on one peek through the window, spotting scarf-wrapped Parisians drinking coffee, I thought Merci was just a cool-looking book-filled café. Turns out, in part, this is true; the café is just one part of this three-level emporium. There is also a pretty big cafeteria inside. But the main attractions are the men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and jewelry, the amazing furniture vignettes, and the housewares. Merci is like Ikea meets Anthropologie meets Jayson. If you are ever in Paris, do not miss this gem.

 Other observations/ideas: We had dinner at Chez Julien (1 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe 75004, phone: 01-42-78-31-64) one night (another of Summer’s recs!) and what I loved in addition to the huge chandelier in a tiny space and the perfect taupe color on the walls, was that each table had one tall candlestick and a candle. I found this to be so much more appealing than a dinky votive! Also, love the idea of one candlestick in general… yes a huge grouping as a centerpiece can be gorgeous, but who wants to set fire to the dinner table? As for two matching candlesticks—I learned from Chez Julien that those are best left for observing Shabbat! 

Great idea at the Fred Perry clothing shop in the Marais: two dozen or so vintage books, lined up and attached to the wall, spine-side out, with a wood plank on top, to form a rustic floating shelf. 

Design color trend of the moment in Paris: Not pink! But I saw a ton of blue and white (see chairs from Merci, above). 

Fun flea market that’s easy to navigate: the “marché aux puces” at Metro stop Porte de Vanves. Our art director, Adam Moroschan, went there this past fall and scored a little vintage painting of Paris. Sadly, I didn’t have such marvelous luck, but there was much fabulous French junk to peruse. 

Great French café with a casual American attitude—and incredible organic bread and quiches that the locals line up for: Eric Kayser