Merci: A cool canteen

Having lunch in a department store? Once you’ve found your table in the Merci canteen, your answer will be: of course, why not? Merci is a more recent Parisian concept store on the Boulevard Beaumarchais, not far from Bastille. Its lobby still looks like one of the pavillons of the biennale in Venice, but it’s not about art here, it’s just about stylish and ethical shopping from A for aprons to Z for zen stuff.

Downstairs, there’s a cool canteen where a small choice of cooked meals and salads are served throughout the day. It’s the kind of place where you can watch real locals having lunch, you know, architects, journalists, lawyers, the bobos, as they’re called here, les bourgeois-bohémiens. So expect a high density of iphone users. But never mind.

The staff are nice (and they all look like they're auditioning for a movie). Food is pricy but very good. Try, for example, the vegetarian Bobun which makes a light, satisfying lunch, composed of herbs and unusual salad leaves, topped with Asian style rolls. Have 15 Euros (20$) at the ready. Too much? Well, yes, but you're paying for the ambiance, too.