Paris holds a special place in my heart having been obsessed with the likes of Edith Piaf, Montmartre and Toulouse Lautrec since my early teenage years and the sight of the light beaming out of the top of the Eiffel tower after sunset will never grow old. Once you've lost count of the number of hops you have made over (or under!) the channel , however, you probably aren't beating a path to the Louvre or Galeries Lafayette anymore. On my most recent visit, I decided to go a little more off the tourist track on this visit to find some very French kitchenware. Les Halles is probably the closest equivalent that Paris has to the Covent Garden in London. Once bustling with porters swerving trolleys around market traders shouting out their colourful array of food wares, for the most part its role as a central food market is consigned to history. Some hints as to the area's alimentary past remain however in the form of a treasure trove of shops.
18 et 20 rue Coquillière 75001 Paris
The ultimate in French stores has to be Dehillerin. This shop is unbelievable. It is like stepping back at least 5 decades in time. It is incredibly dark Aladdin's cave rammed from floor to ceiling with weird and wonderful gadgets. If you are hoping to find a souvenir that you won't find anywhere else then Dehillerin is where you are going to find it.
Nothing is priced but is instead labelled with a code. At the end of each row are brochures listing prices alongside all the codes. Confusing but I guess some of this stock has been here decades and its easier to change the brochure than the labels.
They specialise in their own brand copper pans. They aren't cheap but will last a lifetime. In a nod to modern times they do offer a version suitable for induction hobs as well as for gas. Beware though, I could barely lift some of them empty let alone full of the type of wonderful cassoulet or boeuf bourgninon that they deserve.
58, rue Tiquetonne. 75002 Paris
15 euros total for creme des marrons, a large bag of pink Kashmir salt, a bottle of truffle aroma and a tin of snails. I would fully expect it to cost double that in London.
Although more expensive than a can of John West, I don't think that I have ever seen tinned tuna or sardines look more beautiful.
Although its one of classic old Parisian kitchenware shops having been founded in 1921, La Bovida is now one of the most modern and more like Divertimenti in the UK stocking top kitchenware brands. They have their own brand of spices packaged in beautiful art deco style containers.