Monoprix

Monoprix. Never has a word elicited such rapturous joy and delight. Even the name sounds flirty; pronounced “moh-noh-pree”.

Monoprix does supermarket fancy. When supermarkets and chain stores are a dime-a-dozen, Monoprix has the smarts to partner up with designers to offer limited release collections. Meaning, you can own that fancy shirt by Muah Muah Muah or that umbrella by Blah Blah Blah at a fraction of the price. Monoprix is also committed to good design not just with their product offering but with their packaging as well. It’s evident that they know that pretty sells, especially when it’s at a pretty penny.

The Monoprix on Rue de Levis is divided into two sections; one for food and the other for home decor and clothes. Now let’s start with Monoprix Deco et Mode. There are other better well stocked Monoprixs around town with a nicer, tidier selection of home goods, however, this one is part of my daily thoroughfare to the Metro. And I never am able to make it through from entrance to exit without getting distracted by some pretty fancy.

Monoprix Home stocks home decor items, clothing, cosmetics, skin care products, toiletries and a bunch of other stuff that’s always worth looking at. And yes, French toiletries are sexy to browse through. With scents such as camomile, grapevine tea, olive oil ,and, grapefruit & green tea (Yes, that one had me at hello!), it takes serious concentration and effort to commit and pick just one scent.

The Monoprix on this side not only has home decor and toiletries, it also stocks apparel. And Monoprix has a surprisingly fantastic selection of clothing on offer. They make available every single French Girl staple there is and make it chic and stylish too. Trench coat. Check. Striped boatneck tee. Check. Silk blouses with amusing prints. Check. Scarves in lovely patterns and prints. Check. It’s practically a French Girl wannabe’s one-stop shop.

Cross the street to Monoprix Food and even before those pearly gates slide open, I hear the music to Pharrell’s Happy. In fact, I’ve been known to go in, get some groceries, linger lovingly in the yogurt aisle, and plan a trip back later in the evening for another round of groceries because you know, it’s something I’ll need for later that evening, not now, so why on earth would I buy it now when I can walk these heavenly aisles again, and buy it later? And yes, the apartment is a three storey walk- up. But hey, I get my Monoprix fix, I’m happy, and my gluts are happy. It’s a win- win.

I know it’s been said before, but it bears repeating. The French have successfully mastered the art of seduction. Dairy seduction.

Take the escalator to the basement and you’ll be greeted by shelf upon shelf of dairy goodness. You have your puddings, your yogurts, your butters, your creams and your ice-creams. Just browsing the yogurt shelves is enough to make you flirt with the idea of a French long-stay visa. My current favorites are both by this brand called Mamie Nova- Litchi & Rose and Mango Saffron.

But wait! There’s more. Imagine platter upon platter of appetizers from smoked salmon to scallop terrines and moussaka to quiches, all for your choosing. A selection worthy enough to host a cocktail party or an apero hour at a moment’s notice. No need to channel your inner Ina Gartner domestic goddess. And cheating is totally ok when it looks like this.

 

Aside from the oft-admired dairy aisle and stunning appetizer selections, Monoprix also stocks the fancier teas, from Kusmi to Fauchon, fine chocolates, from L’Éclair de Génie to  the ultra colorful Le Chocolat des Français, and fancy biscuits from brands like Les Deux Gourmands and Albert Mènés, that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in other grocery stores. This makes Monoprix an excellent place to stock up on souvenirs without breaking the bank.

With all that’s said about the wonders and glories of Monoprix, if you haven’t visited, it’s about time you did, if you have, do tell me if I’ve missed anything. And no, I am not paid for this content. But, if Monoprix would like to compensate me in dairy, that would be lovely too!

 

P.S: While my love for Monoprix knows no bounds, one must be reminded that Rue de Levis is a market street and is right outside. But since this is my ode to my favorite chain store in France and possibly, the world, excuse me for the omission of Rue de Levis with her excellent array of detectable goods in this post.

Getting Around

Parisian Gem is conveniently located between two metro stations, making it easy to get around. The closest station is Villiers, which is an easy five minute walk away, passing through the bustling Rue de Levis. However, with all to look at, it’s rare to make it to the metro station without any distractions.

Villiers is serviced by two lines, Line 2 and Line 3, and is just a few stops away from major landmarks. Line 2 runs from Porte Dauphine to Nation and Line 3 runs from Pont de Levallois Becon to Gallieni.

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I’ve created a map that shows the two metro lines that are serviced by Villiers and the proximity to major sights. The numbers between the stations indicate the approximate walking distances* between the stations.

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*Information taken from Metro Walking Distance Map created by Guillaume Martinetti

Tickets, billets, are sold individually or in packs of 10, un carnet de billets. Getting them in packs of 10 provides a discount on the price per ticket and there is no expiration on these tickets, meaning if you have any leftovers, you can bring them for your next trip.

Alternatively, there is also the Navigo pass, which is a weekly pass, but you are restricted by the commencement day, Mondays to Sundays, and you will need a passport sized photo for your pass. Unless you arrive on a Monday, there really isn’t much sense in getting a pass unless you expect to travel long distances to Versailles, Euro Disney, the Designer Outlets etc. There is also the Paris Visite Pass which allows you to have unlimited travel for 1 day, 3 day and 5 day options. However, I find that I walk so much in this city that I never seem to justify the cost of the day passes.

Finally, let’s not forget about the bus system in Paris. While convenient, being subterranean in the Metro all the time, does not allow you views of this gorgeous city that buses, on the other hand, can. Buses that run near Parisian Gem include line 30 which brings you to the base of Sacre-Coeur, line 53 which is Opera bound, and line 94 with a most scenic route, that passes the Seine.

Rue de Levis

Rue de Levis is a quaint neighbourhood market street that serves two distinct neighbourhoods in the 17th arrondissement. The well- heeled, chi-chi residents of the Plaine- Monceau and the hip Bobos of the Batignolles. It’s where both worlds converge and do their daily shopping.

Rue de Levis boasts not a couple, but seven boulangeries within it’s proximity. The smell of baked breads permeate the morning air of this market street, with people lining up at their preferred boulangeries, mornings and evenings, to get their fill of their daily bread. Which in France to do without, is sacrilegious. Personal favorites of mine are Arnaud Delmontel  for his Renaissance baguette and pain au chocolat. And on Tuesdays, when he is closed, I will venture further down Rue de Levis to Leonie for some yummy kouign d’amann and viennoiseries.

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Several boucheries that line this street hawk their roast chickens, charcuterie, Alsatian choucroute (sauerkraut) and saucsisses up and down this charming street. The sight of roast chickens turning on their spit with hot fat dripping down on lovely roasted potatoes is a sight, and smell, to behold.

There is but one seafood store on Rue de Levis. But boy, what a gem she is- La Fine Maree. Their gorgeous seafood is artfully displayed on ice and seaweed tangles. Order a plateau de Fruits de Mer and get to see what artistry they can conjure. Choose from their displays, your seafood of choice, and they will assemble a plateau that will sure to dazzle. These gents deserve a round of applause. Come Christmas and New Years, you’ll see them shucking oysters over beds of ice, while it’s zero degrees out, with occasional interludes of hand dunking in warm water, to keep them going. My heroes!

Green grocers with an abundance of overflowing, colourful produce, try to catch your eye with their artful displays, or by shouting out the daily offers. The local florists have buckets of flowers in every pretty shade, lined up side by side, surely not edible, but still a feast for the eyes.

Chocolate shops, gourmet patisseries, and fromageries, including well-known Androuet, dot this market street. Wine shops are abound, with friendly merchants ever ready to share some advice. Speciality shops like Grand Espagne for Spanish Pata Negra Bellota, Macis for spices and gourmet gifts, Oliviers et Co for olive oil, Famille Mary for honey and several tea shops including Kusmi, Palais des Thes and La Route du The, all grace this market street, making it convenient for souvenir shopping.

And let’s not forget Monoprix, which straddles the beginning of Rue de Levis on both sides; one side for clothing and home wares and the other for food. Because, after all, all good streets deserve a Monoprix. (Fodder for another post.)

And lastly, there’s Le Dome de Villiers. This magnificent brasserie sits at the beginning of Rue de Levis and with it’s large terrace, provides patrons the perfect spot for their apero hour to people watch and of course, be seen. While not enthusiastic about their food, I highly recommend a cafe, or a glass of wine on their terrace and indulge in a little people watching. La vie est belle!

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