From Paris to Montvalent


Paris, late September. I walk through the Haut Marais, an utterly boho neighbourhood full of history that has become a staple of the French capital. Maybe because here, more than anywhere else in Paris, you feel that you are part of a village. I’m heading toward Rue Dupetit Thouars where the Ofr bookshop and art gallery is located. Behind its black painted wooden facade, this elegant boutique with a New York twist has established itself as one of Paris’ most comprehensive and progressive indie bookshops.

Ofr is worshipped by the worlds of fashion, photography, and contemporary art for its sharp and eclectic selection of books and magazines. The store also doubles as an art gallery, showcasing the work of the young creative guard as well as more established artists. Ofr’s schedule of happenings is restless and overabundant with exhibitions, performances, concerts and book signings. The bookshop also publishes its own material, such as the ‘Bon Voyage’ guides — a collection of texts, photos, and illustrations celebrating creativity and the ‘douceur de vivre’, the sweet life. People can come and collect the guides as soon as they are printed, just as they would do with hot buns fresh from the oven, and enjoy their poetic and free-spirited digressions.

What makes Ofr truly unique is its aura that draws people together. Over the past twenty years it has become the rallying point for both a local and an international artistic community, who come here not only for the finest paper publications, but also for the opportunity to gather, meet, exchange, and be inspired. It is a bright, festive, and unassuming place very much in tune with its owners’ style: the hyperactive, brother and sister, entrepreneur duo Alexandre & Marie Thumerelle. They are the enthusiastic bookseller-publisher-gallery owners, and Ofr’s creative heart and soul. “We believe in spreading, distributing, and supporting creativity” Alexandre explains to me, as we sit at a table of the bar next door. “We began in 1996 without any money. That’s where our name actually came from, 0.fr : the contraction of ‘zero franc’. We didn’t know anything about publishing, the only thing we knew was how to gather people and manage a project from start to finish,” says this music lover who once put together Daft Punk’s first concerts. “Ofr is a passionate project that celebrates art and poetry against common corruption.”

Read the whole story at Issue no. 5 of OPENHOUSE magazine.

Written by LUCY BALUTEIG urbansettters.com
Photography by MAITE CARAMÉS maitecarames.com