Three years ago, after checking out the latest trends at the Colette concept store in the 1st arrondissement, I walked toward Palais Royal and found myself in front of église Saint Roch. Throngs of teenagers were sitting on the steps, enjoying a sunny day while chatting and eating Japanese fast food. I turned into rue Saint Roch and couldn’t miss the smallest antique shop in Paris. I had heard of Rarissime but never visited before. It seemed to be carved inside the church.
It was closed for lunch. So, I walked to rue Ste-Anne, devoured a very satisfying yuzu éclair at Aki Boulanger and returned to Rarissime a while later.
As I walked in I couldn’t believe how tiny this place was: the depth of the shop from the façade couldn’t be more than ten feet. Apparently, it used to be a place where people would buy religious trinkets. Roger rented the space from the city of Paris and agreed to renovate the shop.
He even built an impressive stone spiral staircase: the steps above the second level served as display areas for Roger’s finds. He told me that he shopped at vide-greniers and estate sales; he stored his treasures at his home outside of Paris.
Roger’s selection looked eclectic enough until a gentleman stopped by to pick up a carton of six eggs. Roger said he brought them from his village every week and he had many regular customers. Old objects and fresh eggs: an unusual combination to be sure. I perused a whole folder of vintage photographs and told Roger I would visit him again on a future trip. When I returned eighteen months later, the shop was fermée and the windows were empty. I inquired about Roger at the hotel across the street and was told by the receptionist that he had finally retired to his village. It made me happy, and sad at the same time.
Last September, I headed out to église Saint Roch again: I just had to find out whether the teeny, tiny store had welcomed a new tenant and it had. It’s now the home of Brigitte Tanaka, a collaboration between a French and a Japanese designer.
It was closed for lunch. So, we walked to rue Ste-Anne. I’ll miss Roger.
Le vide-grenier: garage sale