A French Lesson at the Marché Saint-Pierre in the Paris 18th


SpeakerIconClick to listen to the vocabulary lesson: Marché Saint-Pierre (opens with QuickTime Player and Windows Media Player). For those students looking for a real challenge, we encourage you to listen and try to write the text too.

Location:  The borders are the rues d’Orsel, Charles Nodier, Livingstone, Seveste, Pierre Picard and the place Saint-Pierre.

Public transportation:  Line 12 at Abbesses and Line 2 at Anvers

Hours: Most the fabric shops are open Tuesday-Friday 10am to 6:30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 7pm. On Mondays, the times vary from shop to shop.

The Marché Saint-Pierre or the historical fabric district in Paris can be interesting to visit even to non-sewers and crafters. Located at the foot of the gardens of the Sacré-Cœur, the area gets its name from the former market that stood here until the 1930s and is now the home of the Musée d’Art Naïf.

In 1879, two families of cousins the Dreyfus and the Moline began selling fabric in a small shop near the market. Their success grew with the rise in popularity of the sewing machine and by the 1920s both families had opened larger stores near the market. The Marché Saint-Pierre, also known as the Dreyfus, (2 rue Charles Nodier, 75018) and the Tissus Moline (1, Place Saint-Pierre 75018 Paris) still exist. With six floors and 2 500 m² of floor space, Marché Saint-Pierre claims to be the largest fabric shop in the world. With broad beamed wooden floors, antique-looking cash registers, stacks of discount (particularly on the ground floor) fabric, the shop still maintains the spirit of its founding in the 1920s. While Tissus Moline, located next door, is smaller and more up-scale. A second six-story fabric store, Tissus Reine (3-5 place Saint-Pierre) opened in the 1930s. Tissus Reine is considered the fanciest with higher prices and better quality fabrics.

If you wish to buy fabric, know the prices are generally marked at the end of each bolt and you will need to find an employee with a wooden meter stick and scissors to cut the fabric. The minimum they sell is usually .5m. The employees will be wandering around the floors and it is acceptable to stand next one of them while waiting for them to finish cutting fabric for another client. (For Americans, be sure to convert the fabric you will need for your pattern from yards to meter beforehand (1 yard = .9144m).)  After your fabric has been cut, you will be given a piece of paper to take to the cash register. You will need to pay and then re-find the salesperson and give them your receipt to claim your purchase. Just to make life a little more challenging, at Tissus Reine and Marché Saint-Pierre you need to pay at each floor. If you want to actually purchase something and not just browse, it is better to visit during the week, rather than on busy weekends.

Here is some key vocabulary to help you prepare for your visit to the Marché Saint-Pierre and the fabric district in the Paris 18th:

[column col=”1/2″]Tissu = fabric

Une mercerie = haberdashery

Une machine a coudre = sewing machine

Une bobinne (laine, thread)  = bobbin

Une aiguille = needle

Un fil = thread

Un ourlet= hem

Un bouton = button

Une fermeture éclair = zipper

Un ruban = ribbon

Un patron = pattern


Un coton = cotton

Un velour = corduroy

Un in = linen

Une polaire = fleece

Soyeux = silky

Tricoter = to knit

Coudre = to sew

Broder = to embroider

Teindre = to dye

Repasser = to iron


To continue expanding you French vocabulary, here is a pattern and instructions in French from Molin Mercerie on how to make a place setting. Good luck!

Paris is our classroom! Whenever possible, French As You Like It’s teachers enjoy organizing and building lessons around interesting sites in Paris. Call us or contact us here to organize a private French lesson at the Marché Saint-Pierre or at another site “off the beaten path” in Paris.