Regular readers will know that I rarely blog about individual stores I visit on my travels, so when I do it means it’s a very special place indeed. When I was in Paris a couple of months ago, I met one of my favourite fashion friends on the Left Bank for what turned out to be the perfect Parisian afternoon. Being the lovely girl that she is (and knowing my penchant for Chanel and gorgeous vintage jewels), she shared with me one of her Parisian secrets: Catherine B’s vintage emporium, Les Trois Marches. It may look unassuming from the outside (in true Left Bank style), but I actually gasped when I stepped inside; so good is it that I just had to share it with you all here so that you may visit it on your next trip to Paris.
Stocking nothing but vintage Chanel and Hermes, this tiny boutique (divided into two neighbouring shopfronts) is almost too good to be true for any Parisian fashion devotee. Within its walls are shelves and shelves of Hermes Kelly bags in every colour imaginable, rows upon rows of Chanel boucle jackets, towering stacks of silk scarves and windows glinting with vintage Chanel jewels (my weakness).
Gorgeous accessories aside, my favourite part of the shop was the owner herself, the wonderful Catherine B. Instantly we bonded over our mutual love for all things Chanel (despite my rather dismal French skills), and swapped stories of our respective obsessive hunts for particular pieces from our favourite collections over the years. Such is her reputation in Paris that Chanel and Hermes themselves send customers to her when they’re after a particular vintage piece (and if she doesn’t have it, she can probably find it for you), but mostly I just kept thinking that she was so interesting and brimming with joie de vivre that I could have happily listened to her storytelling all weekend.
At one point, when I gazed upon the rows of Hermes bags telling her how I dreamed of one day returning to her shop to buy my own, she slipped behind a crimson curtain into the back room and emerged a few minutes later with a rather weathered looking Birkin bag. Laughing at my confused face, she explained that this was the very first Birkin bag ever made (yes, the very same one made for and owned by Jane Birkin – it still has her initials and her manicure set inside; fellow fashion obsessives will understand how big a deal this is) and that she now owns it herself. And this is exactly why I love Catherine so much; although she collects iconic and collectible pieces, she understands that rather than them being in a fashion museum, they should continue to be worn and loved by women who will continue to treasure them as they were intended.
I won’t pretend that prices are any cheaper in here than they are in mainline Chanel or Hermes stores, but everything is in pristine condition and a collectible treasure you will keep for the rest of your life. Catherine makes it her pleasure to match items to their perfect owner, and she sent me home with this vintage Chanel military brooch to add to my collection (and which now makes me smile every time I glance at it; as much for the memories it holds of my time in Paris and Catherine’s stories as for it’s appearance).
Have you ever stumbled upon a shop somewhere in the world that was so marvellous it felt like a wonderful emporium filled with stories? I’d love to hear about it!
Love, Miss B xx
Les Trois Marches de Catherine B, 1 Rue Guisarde Paris 75006, +33 14354 7418 (Metro: Saint-Germain des Pres or Saint-Sulpice)
P.S. All images (except first and last) from Alexandra Clamart (as you all know I always try to use my own photography/illustrations on here, but in this case I was so caught up in Catherine’s shop that I failed to take more than a single photo!)