Longstanding residents may mourn the passing of local businesses, squeezed out by competition from chain stores and out of town shopping centres, but every Paris quartier still has its specialist shops for bread, meat, cheese, hardware, clocks, flowers, books and many other trades. Local businesses don’t rely on their name to attract customers, they spell out clearly what they sell or what service they offer. Here’s an ABC of shops and services, mostly in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th arrondissements, with a few interlopers.
A is for Alimentation Générale – the essential corner shop
B is for Boulangerie – you’re never far from a baker’s shop. 907 artisans boulangers are listed in the Yellow Pages for Paris
C is for Café – a coffee roaster (and tea supplier)
D is for Droguerie – not a chemist shop, a droguerie supplies cleaning materials, paints, polishes….
E is for Essence – a choice of sans plombe (unleaded petrol) and gazole (for mopeds)
F is for Fleuriste – a florist’s shop with plants for house and window box as well as cut flowers
G is for Gibier – a butcher who specialises in game
H is for Horlogerie – a traditional watch and clock shop for sales and repairs
I is for Imprimerie – a printer’s shop, traditional or digital
J is for Joaillier – a jeweler’s shop
K is for Kosher Pizza – not much begins with K in French
L is for Librairie – a bookshop, not a library
M is for Maroquinerie – a leather work artisan or supplier, in this case wholesale handbags
N is for Notaire – all notaries or solicitors display this polished brass sign.
O is for Opticien – an optician, of course
P is for Photographe – a photographer
Q is for Quincaillerie – a hardware shop
R is for Réparateur de Bicyclettes – bicycle repair man
S is for Serrurerie – a locksmith’s shop
T is for Teinturerie – originally a dyers but now usually a dry cleaners
U is for Urgences – there’s an active campaign to keep local emergency services in the city centre hospitals
V is for Vins – and W is for Wine as I can’t find a French trade that begins with W
X is unfindable – so here’s a colourful textile shop
Y is for Yogurt – a yogurt ice shop that has long queues in summer
Z should be for zinguerie, the oh-so-Parisian trade of covering roofs and bar counters with zinc. I’ll look out for a sign and add one when I find it but I think it’s time to press ‘publish’ now, before the search for the missing letters becomes an obsession!
Click on any shop to view the gallery.