French fabric heaven in Paris – le marché st Pierre

by Sharon Santoni

fabric on sale outside paris store

If – like me – you find it difficult to walk past a fabric store without walking in to explore, then I have an address to share with you that is little short of French fabric heaven in the 18th arrondissement.

my-french-country-home-marché-st-pierre11

The Marché St Pierre is to be found just below the Sacré Coeur, not far from the pretty merry-go-round that you may have walked past.    The name ‘Marché st Pierre’ actually refers to this small neighbourhood where the pavements are literally filled with rolls of fabric, but one store, in particular, has claimed the title for its own, and that is my very favourite, Dreyfus.

my-french-country-home-marché-st-pierre1

Dreyfus claims to be the biggest fabric store in the world and to have opened its doors over 70 years ago, and I for one will not dispute that!   If ever I need to re-upholster a chair or replace drapes, this is my first stop before I consider any more expensive option.

my-french-country-home-marché-st-pierre3

 Walking in through the doors of Dreyfus is to step back in time.  It is not glamorous, nor even particularly welcoming.   This is light years away from the slick department stores on boulevard Haussmann.  Dreyfus is organised on five floors which you can access via a very slow lift, complete with very slow lift attendant, or via the only all-wooden stairwell that I have ever seen in a department store.

Clients are lured in with rolls of bargain buys stacked on tables along the pavement, usually selling fabrics for a few euros a metre.  Once inside on the ground floor the bargains continue, with my favourite corner being the gingham cottons, French country fabrics, and the tubs of buttons.

my-french-country-home-marche-st-pierre

But I spend the most time on the third floor, where they sell beautiful furnishing fabrics at incredible prices.   The salesmen and women can be quite intimidating,  but if you’re really friendly,  it doesn’t take too long before they smile.  Fabrics are displayed on huge low tables above wooden floors, including beautiful French country fabric choices.  You are allowed to pick up rolls and take them to a window to check the colour, but be sure to put them back in the right place!

There is a distinct sense of hierarchy within the store, each vendor defending his or her own territory,  and although I’ve never asked, I wouldn’t be surprised to know that there is real competition between the velvet and the linen counters, or the prints and the checks.

my-french-country-home-marché-st-pierre5

Fabric is quickly measured, cut and packaged, then carried for you to the till, where the payment is made over a high counter.  On the wall beside you is a sign “Fabric will never be returned or exchanged for any reason!”.   The  lady  perched on a stool behind glass will probably not smile as she takes your money, but she works quickly and efficiently and her air seems to say “you came here for fabric, not for my company!”

A different sort of Parisian charm, but one that I adore.

my-french-country-home-marché-st-pierre4

Dreyfus Déballage du Marché Saint Pierre
2 rue Charles Nodier – 75018 PARIS

57 comments

Teresa Hartman January 7, 2016 - 4:44 pm

I would love to spend about a week going slowly through this store. Wonderful.

Reply
Suzanane January 7, 2016 - 5:13 pm

Thanks, Sharon, for the tip on where to find fabric. I’m always looking for it, and really should sew up a few pillows with some that I already have collected soon. Still, I don’t think I’m quite a “hoarder” yet.

Reply
Darina January 7, 2016 - 5:24 pm

I know this store! Wonderful to spend hours there 🙂

Reply
Colleen Taylor January 7, 2016 - 5:26 pm

This indeed would be a weakness for me. I made all my window treatments in this house when we first purchased it. I had a difficult time finding exactly what I wanted but eventually I was happy with my treasures. Then it was time for the duvet covets, the pillows & on it goes.
Years ago I used to make my daughter’s clothes when she was but a mere tot. I’ve made a few things for my granddaughters but not so much lately.
Thank you for this location Sharon. I know I have friends who would jump on this right now!

Reply
ParisGrrl January 7, 2016 - 5:26 pm

I purchased some luscious French linen there over the holidays, and when I took it to the till the lady ringing me up surprised me by asking what I was going to do with it. Make handtowels, I replied, and then nearly lost my composure completely when she muttered, “That’s a lot of money for some handtowels.” I laughed all the way home.

Reply
Lillian Bas January 7, 2016 - 8:05 pm

Delightful story, ParisGrrl … now I’m laughing … 🙂 My lift for the day!

Reply
Karena January 7, 2016 - 5:41 pm

Sharon I would be in heaven! How amazing!!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena
Life Lessons: So Honored

Reply
Angela Bell January 7, 2016 - 5:51 pm

Hi Sharon, i have been there and did not have enough time.I will go back again and spend as much time as I like.Thanks for reminding me!

Reply
Share January 7, 2016 - 5:54 pm

olala looks wonderful….

Reply
Lynne Gaylor January 7, 2016 - 6:07 pm

Thank you for sharing! Although I may never get to have this experience in Paris, I too have experienced the thrill of finding beautiful fabrics and dreaming of what I will do with them!

Reply
Jan January 7, 2016 - 6:22 pm

Bliss. Unfortunately there is nothing like that here in Perpignan,but I will definatly put the address in my note book for next Paris trip.

Reply
Valorie January 7, 2016 - 6:22 pm

Makes me want to take up sewing again and try my hand at upholstery! I really should, I’m so disappointed in many garments found in department stores these days. If only I had 48 hours in a day. Really lovely store. Would love to spend an afternoon there. Merci!

Reply
Toni Cerillo January 7, 2016 - 6:23 pm

A dream store to shop. The next time I am in Paris…

Reply
Susan Jenkinson January 7, 2016 - 6:28 pm

I also have a love for fabrics and have just covered my dining room chairs. I would love the Paris store and will make sure if and when I visit Paris again I pay a visit to this store!!

Reply
Kathleen Noble January 7, 2016 - 7:04 pm

Would love to visit this place – it reminds me of Brite in San Francisco.

Reply
Kathleen Noble January 7, 2016 - 7:06 pm

*Britex

Reply
Véronique January 8, 2016 - 3:52 pm

Love, love, love Britex. Used to go there all the time, when I lived in San Francisco. I am from Paris and go to Dreyfus, sometimes, as well as the one across the street from it. There are also a bunch of smaller notion stores in the streets near by. I’d say Britex is a bit higher end.

Reply
Joie Lynn January 7, 2016 - 8:11 pm

San Francisco has one very similar. Britex. It has been around for 60 years, 4 stories, old wooded floors and any fabric, button or thread you might want. Love these type of places.

Reply
Catherine D January 7, 2016 - 8:15 pm

C’était mon paradis quand j’habitais Paris ! Et j’aimais beaucoup aller au bistrot en haut de la riue de Steinkerque, en face du manège…
All my curtains, dresses, quilts came from Marché Saint Pierre…
Thank you for this nice souvenir !
Planning for a new visit, due to your post 🙂

Reply
Wendi Yates January 7, 2016 - 8:18 pm

Be still my heart!

Reply
Diane Gonzalez January 7, 2016 - 9:09 pm

OMG, I just made new 10 foot tall; 140 foot wide drapes for my bedroom and settled for a fabric I wasn’t thrilled with but came out OK…..my husband would have a coniption fit if this were in AZ, USA!!!!!! Looks amazing!!!!!! I’m so jealous!

Reply
Christine Chamberlain January 7, 2016 - 10:50 pm

Conniption …. l love that word. My husband would have a conniption every time he saw me with a tape measure in my hand!

Reply
Carol Sybrowsky January 16, 2016 - 3:24 pm

Hi Diane, if you love good upholstery fabrics at a reasonable price try Home Fabrics. There are 3 in Arizona. My favorite is in Scottsdale with Mesa being a close second. They have a $3 to $5 section where short rolls or big rolls of completely discontinued fabrics may be found. Some are so-so but others are fabulous! When I was traveling to Phoenix for work, I would stop in every time I was in town. Usually found something terrific.

Reply
Taste of France January 7, 2016 - 9:24 pm

There’s a much smaller version of this in Brussels called le Chien Vert. I’ll have to make a pilgrimage to Dreyfus for fabric and upholstery for an apartment we’re renovating.

Reply
Donna Lovold January 7, 2016 - 9:27 pm

I have found several different sets of custom made curtains with the heavy felt interlining at consignment or habitat for humanity stores for next to nothing! Worth looking there!

Reply
Gail Y Bennett January 7, 2016 - 9:39 pm

I think the other comments have said it all. This is amazing. I will put this on my list for what to do in Paris on a solo venture. I am serious about my fabric selections and will only shop for fabric with people who love it as much as I do. I guess what I’ll do is buy a large suitcase and pay the extra luggage fee or ship it. See, I told you I was serious! Oh, I wish I could go there now.

Thank you for sharing!

Reply
Jeanne January 7, 2016 - 9:51 pm

This store would definitely lure me in! Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Gail, in northern California January 7, 2016 - 10:15 pm

Still waiting for chapter two of this charming little story.
“all that money could buy” … a christmas tale continued

Reply
Irene Peterson January 7, 2016 - 10:20 pm

Oh, the tubs of buttons has me sailing across the sea to touch and feel and select. Alas, here in the U.S. there are not such finds. Thank you for some enchantment.

Reply
Emm January 8, 2016 - 4:47 am

If you’re ever in Manhattan, go to Tender Buttons, in the east 60s. Exquisite buttonry.

Reply
Carol Sybrowsky January 16, 2016 - 3:43 pm

Perhaps someone who lives in Los Angeles will know this place… I used to shop there in college to buy buttons and silk for blouses when that was the rage. They had the most incredible “button” room upstairs near the back. There was a front entrance for the public and a private back entrance for celebrities. The private “back part ” of the shop was filled with exquisite fabrics at prices I could only guess. Once, while in the button room, the private door opened and I saw one of the Gabor sisters. The shop was on Melrose Avenue about 3 to 4 blocks east of the Blue Whale. Hope it is still there!

Reply
Jennie butler January 7, 2016 - 10:43 pm

Formidable! Thank you so much for sharing this information! I will be sure to seek it out on my next trip.
Jennie

Reply
Lillian Plummer January 8, 2016 - 12:55 am

I love fabric, thank you for the lovely post. I have a stash so high you can’t jump over so need to complete all projects. French fabrics are wonderful.
Happy sewing, lillian

Reply
Pam January 8, 2016 - 1:06 am

When I was in Nice a few years ago I found a great fabric store. The proprietor wasn’t very friendly or helpful, he didn’t like that I did not speak any French, so I couldn’t buy any fabric but I think of his beautiful fabrics quite often. A lovely memory among others of my trip to France.

Reply
Marilyn January 8, 2016 - 1:11 am

I have been here. Several years ago, I hired a lovely woman to be my guide through Paris fabric and Notion stores. And to speak only French so I was forced to practice. It was a very fun but also very hard day! This was our first stop–it was overwhelming. I have also been to Britex in San Francisco. It was also overwhelming. Then a clerk asked me what I hoped to see. I mentioned a natural silk/linen skirt I had just seen in a nearby dept store. He yelled out a row and s shelf and in five minutes a runner came with the bolt. He cut off a length and told me to go to the top floor and tell them I needed ten “2178”. I did and it was the exact button! An incredible experience. I made that skirt and am still wearing it thirty years later. Only the next day did I remember that my intent had been to buy ready made linen dress shields. Haha.

Reply
Debrashoppeno5 January 8, 2016 - 2:31 am

What a fabulous place. I would be like a kid in a candy store.

Reply
Libby Wilkie January 8, 2016 - 3:24 am

I love love love this store: it’s always one of the most important stops in any trip to Paris! On my last trip it was the trims and window accessories that were the most amazing and unique!!

Reply
Willene Deason January 8, 2016 - 4:15 am

Sounds like heaven!

Reply
D. A. Wolf January 8, 2016 - 4:17 am

For all the times I’ve been to Paris, this is one place I’ve never been! And I must put it on my list of places to go!

Reply
Hattee Christian January 8, 2016 - 4:37 am

I had a wonderful time at this store. The problem is that fabric is SO HEAVY! I tried to have mine shipped but they wouldn’t do it. I should have taken the time to send it myself at the nearest poste. But even with paying postage or an airline fee the fabric is still a bargain.

Reply
Sharon Santoni January 8, 2016 - 12:58 pm

You are right Hattee, it is heavy, but happily not fragile. If you buy textiles again and want to ship them home, it may be worth looking at the flat rate shipping boxes from the post office, I believe the biggest takes 7kg in weight

best

Sharon

Reply
Sandra T. January 8, 2016 - 4:44 am

I love sewing so this looks like heaven to me! Nothing better than a day spent with patterns, fabrics, notions, and buttons.

Reply
Emm January 8, 2016 - 4:49 am

Fabric heaven. I wouldn’t dare go in, I’d never leave. But noting the address, just in case. 🙂

Reply
linda January 8, 2016 - 5:23 am

The thing I love most about the fabrics in France is the width. I want to go back so I can buy more fabric that is 70″ wide.

Reply
JaneEllen January 8, 2016 - 6:11 am

Oh my how wonderful to be able to visit that store, let alone Paris. Afraid not ever going to happen for me but maybe my grand daughter one day. She’s going to Italy this summer to be an au pair for a family that will then take her on weeks vacation to another country (can’t remember which country she said). She’s a very brave and sophisticated young woman who will be 19 in Feb. How do they get to be that way so young? She’s going to college in San Rafael, close to San Francisco. Has already become well acquainted with S.F., is on a scholarship at college to be a special needs teacher, has already been doing some teaching since high school and now at college. Gee are we proud of her?
Now on to that delicious store, oh my would I get into trouble there. Had very slight experience in KY when we lived there, found a decorators store that let “regular” people shop there. I bought small pieces to make one side of nice stuff into pillow. Also bought trims, still have some in my stash. Not nearly as nice as store you showed but at least had taste of more quality fabric. What a splendid thing would be to experience touching those glorious fabrics. And the buttons? Buttons are so high in states and they’re junk. Have a few buttons I squirreled away from place I mentioned. Nothing like what you get to do at Dreyfus. Enjoy it for all of us.

Reply
tea in tangiers January 8, 2016 - 11:15 am

NOTHING more enticing than a fabric shop!!

Reply
Chrysanthemum January 8, 2016 - 3:35 pm

On my list for my next trip to Paris….

Reply
Nancy January 8, 2016 - 3:53 pm

Oh what fun that would be! (What did you buy??)
Thanks…..
Nancy

Reply
Danielle January 8, 2016 - 7:20 pm

Fabulous store!

Reply
Pamela January 9, 2016 - 3:08 am

The store looks like a lot of fun

Reply
Roxane Lacroix January 9, 2016 - 5:59 am

oh….my…..not sure if I could have survived discovering this store last time I was in Paris in 2014, my daughter would have wept….No…Mom…not fabric, non! I have an obsession and it is fabrics, silk, velvet, upholstery, cotton, Pierre Deux, Scalamandre,
Souleiado, vintage, needlepoints, toile de jouy, my stash is overwhelming. I was so close to this and I didn’t know it!!! I was looking for that Carousel below Sacré Coeur, but no one wanted to take a ride. We were exhausted, this store would have revived me in a nanosecond! The second picture, bolts of fabric I would have happily shipped home in a tall box! Luckily in the town next to us, there is a woman that has a fabric store, she travels world-wide gathering old stock, last of it’s kind exquisite fabrics, buttons, laces, jewelry that she sells in her store. A tiny space compared to this department store, but check-out is at least an hour while you share fabric wisdom, what are you making with these fabrics, oh there’s a Downton Abbey party that someone just bought this velvet to make a dress from, sewing tips, this is what I’m collecting, oh you should see this fabric, this is what is in my sewing room. The buttons she sells! Each variety displayed in small cut glass dishes. Her display of vintage a la 1940s and 1950s hats. A rare treasure in my area to take pleasure in. My love of fabric and sewing really ties in to your previous post of “permission to reinvent ourselves, where are you heading next” Our youngest daughter will be heading off to college in the Autumn of 2016 and I am planning on fully reviving my business of sewing which I have been slowly doing this past 6 months. I have been sewing since the age of 12 and I love the process of creating, touching fabrics, wondering why someone didn’t use this beautiful piece of vintage fabric to create something special. Thank you so much Sharon for sharing this gem with us!

Reply
Brenda February 8, 2016 - 12:16 am

Hi Roxane – I am curious as to where the little shop is that you mention. I am desperately searching for a certain shade of green velvet (100% cotton, ideally) and I believe I have to find someone in such a shop that would be keen to keep their eyes open for me in their travels. It’s become quite the crazy treasure-hunt! The velvet needs to be used to make a garment…thus upholstery fabric that has a thick backing won’t work. (I have searched far and wide…but if any one reading this happens to have any suggestions, I am open to them!) And, ohhh, how I wish Paris were a wee bit closer to me ~ A great blog post and invitation to explore all the wonder that is Paris!

Reply
bc January 9, 2016 - 8:19 am

Dear Sharon,
With this post, You definitely have managed to push my Nostalgie button!
Back in the early sixties, as a kid, I lived in Paris for few years with my family. My mom took a long sewing course with Pfaff and bought all the needed fabrics at Dreifus. I inherited her love for sewing and whenever in Paris (at least once a year) I visit the store and the market around it. It did not change a lot. The austeres vendors used to wear grey cotton robes with huge scissors popping out from their pockets. They never were nice or smiling but always were extremely efficient. They looked to me old and grumpy, even today. Whenever I visit the shop, I love to seek and find for bargains like small upholstery pieces of fabrics, put in hidden places, in boxes. At the St Pierre market I always buy few pieces of beautiful printed cotton 3m/Eur10 each. I do it at the end of the day to avoid shlepping this weight all day long (I am lucky not to have airplane weight restriction). And if you go on weekends to the puces at Porte de Vanves, you can find beautiful real vintage fabrics samples ( good enough size for small upholstery works like chairs or stools) brought from already shut down fabric factories. This is my Paris lout that makes me so happy.
Happy new year,
bc from Israel

Reply
Sheryl Althauser January 9, 2016 - 3:50 pm

I made this Paris fabric district a must-see on our whirlwind 3-day stay in Paris last June on our way to Brittany. I could have spent the whole vacation there! So hard to choose a few to take home, my head was spinning. The cotton fabrics were such a fine weave they made American quilting cotton look like burlap. Got some nice linen also. Textile heaven!

Reply
splendid market January 10, 2016 - 1:47 am

Dreyfus looks amazing, I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it. Even though I still have metres of fabrics I’ve bought in France in years past, I must visit when next in Paris, merci!

Reply
Annie Maurer January 10, 2016 - 7:26 am

It is a wonderful store. I even managed to find some quilting fabric there last May. But I would love to shop for upholstery fabric there…..a little too hard to carry back to Australia!

Reply
vagabonde January 11, 2016 - 10:04 pm

I enjoyed your post a lot as it brought back so many memories. Growing up in Paris we used to live walking distance from the Marche St Pierre, below the Square d’Anvers. My mother and I would go there every other week I think as she was always looking for a “coupon” (don’t know how you say that in English – leftover fabric sold in small quantity.) My mother made all my dresses. Then we would go to a patisserie that was in front of the merry-go-round (even before there was a manège there,) they had great pastries and we would have a cup a tea too – now they are gone. There used to be also a lot of smaller fabric stores in rue de Steinkerque, but the last time I went there (2 years ago) they were mostly gone and now they are souvenir shops. I used to play on the steps going to the Sacré Coeur and there were very few tourists – I am talking when I was a small child in the mid 1940s. We even saw a British plane in front of the Sacré Coeur in 1944 (before the end of WWII) that had crashed there trying to avoid the houses nearby. Souvenirs, souvenirs…

Reply

Leave a Comment