Purple Paris


I was buying a bike recently and, for some reason, the store offered the bike I wanted in two shades: black and prune (plum), one of the many variations on purple (which include, but are not limited to, violet, purple, and magenta) in the French vocabulary. I wasn’t sure I wanted a purple bike, but then I thought about how purple has invaded Paris – especially evident when an old-fashioned, traditional French butcher shop reopened this fall after an extensive renovation…

But it wasn’t just the butcher…


It was also the purple pâtisserie and pain maker…


And the purple pane-maker…


And the eyeglass maker…


Or you can peep across the street, to another eyeglass maker…


And there’s the make-up maker…


The phone broker…


And the salad maker…(ie: me)


The ticket maker…


And the job taker…


There are chip for dippers…


Pink-purple pastry-polishers…


And a purple-parka’d puller…


Purple accents French paperwork…


And you can use a colorful classeur to hold all that paperwork…


If you go to a phosphorescent café….

Au metro

You’ll find that it’s not the only métro that has gone purple….


But four of the fourteen main métro lines sport a colorful point of purple…

metro lines in color

The newest one, the hyper-fast météor (line 14), is hyper-hued purple…


No one in Paris would dare go out wearing anything but black or charcoal gray. Except for an occasional doudoune of defiance …


But that doesn’t mean you can’t pull any outfit toward the purple, with something plus vivant (more lively)…


Or with a purple-tinted tote…


Or one that’s very chic…


Perhaps from a chic boutique


Or with a bag that’s should be tossed in the poubelle (garbage)…


If bikes are your thing, your ride can be prune, or purple…


Or purple-pink…


Or you can use the purple pass…


But if you’re riding around, you might need to look at the purple plan of Paris…


Or on your motorbike, you might find a purple pass…


You might be feeling a little bit like a punk…


Or feigning to be a little more painterly…


Or feel in need of a bit of purple patriotism….


There’s purple at le bourne, where you pay for le parking


And purple publicité for your car…


There are the purple plaisirs of la table in prune-pigmented publications…


Around town, you’ll see purple notices for perturbations


For places for rent…


Or apartments to purchase…


With purple-noted precautions…


Or for a place, just for the night…


Or for a bird that can’t take flight…


If you want to paint the town…


You can start the party with a purple puller…


But when the mauve madness is over…


You can do a little magenta ménage (housecleaning) with the correctly colored cleaners.


Related Posts

Ten Goofy Foods You’ll Find in a French Supermarket

The French Dictionary

Slate Plates

French Handwriting

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  • February 3, 2014 2:22pm

    PANTONE has declared orchid “the 2014” color.

  • February 3, 2014 2:24pm

    made me laugh especially because it is so so so sooooo true!

  • February 3, 2014 2:38pm
    David Lebovitz

    Madonna/Ms. Lemon: Once again, Paris is a step ahead of the fashion-forward crowd!

    guglielmo: A Parisienne friend is about to take a trip and was showing me her new suitcase…which was, of course – purple ~

    (And I should mention, after I showed my other-half a bunch of these photos, he pointed out my purple paperclip holder, pen, and stack of post-it notes on my desk!)

  • anastasia
    February 3, 2014 2:42pm

    quel horreur! :)

  • February 3, 2014 2:45pm

    I don’t think it is just Paris. Now you’ve out this together, you’ve got me running through all the places in my local town of Combourg, Brittany that have taken on a purple sheen..!

  • February 3, 2014 3:01pm

    Hilarious! I quite like the purple in the metro…livens up the atmosphere when everyone’s wearing black!

  • February 3, 2014 3:09pm

    This blog post is really awesome, David. Now I want to return to Paris even more, just to see and count every purple item there :D

  • Ingerid
    February 3, 2014 3:40pm

    Dare I say it – it looks like a fashion from across the Channel to me – tres Anglais!

  • katie
    February 3, 2014 4:09pm

    Interesting — I love my new purple ski jacket even more now that it’s received the Paris blessing….

  • February 3, 2014 4:50pm

    When I recently read that orchid was big for 2014, my inner child rejoiced. The purples are royal and serene, and a palette I absolutely LOVE!

    Thanks for the rendezvous around town. I love seeing your city, Honey-bunches!

  • Linda
    February 3, 2014 5:08pm

    Panettone’s 2014 color of the year happens to be Radiant Orchid, perhaps they were inspired by the purple haze of Paris?

  • February 3, 2014 5:19pm

    For a minute I thought those were blue corn chips! And then realized they were just purple potato chips. Le sigh.

  • Molly
    February 3, 2014 5:40pm

    Did I miss what color you chose for your new bike?

  • Eric Yendall
    February 3, 2014 5:43pm

    I have never been sure what colour actually is purple. From violet through magenta to what, “purple”?

  • Kim
    February 3, 2014 5:46pm

    I loved your view of Purple Paris. As a purple person myself I would love to see all that wonderful purple in person. I love Paris and Purple Paris is awesome!

  • February 3, 2014 5:52pm

    Chouette ! Now I can say I am “très Parisienne” when I wear my purple scarf, non? Charming post :-)

  • suedoise
    February 3, 2014 6:10pm

    Not mentioning that purple potato – the Vitelotte- and the very pretty purple chips made from it, sold at Picard.

  • Breda Lindsay
    February 3, 2014 6:11pm

    Hi David,

    The much touted Pantone colour of the year 2014 may be the reason Paris is going Purple/Pink. Radiant Orchid is the culprit.

    Slate plate article right on the button for me.

    Love your blog/recipes.

  • February 3, 2014 6:13pm

    So, is purple the new black?

  • angelitakarmalita
    February 3, 2014 6:25pm

    soooo? black or purple!? we’re dying to know!

  • February 3, 2014 6:28pm
    David Lebovitz

    angela + Molly: Black!

  • February 3, 2014 6:30pm

    Charming. It’s nice to see the latitude and freedom you allow yourself in your food blog, David. Yours is the only food blog I read… I’m just beginning to explore this world. Thank you. You have a bright, warm style.

  • February 3, 2014 6:48pm

    LOVE it!! My favorite color happens to be purple! No wonder I love Paris so much! I have wanted to go all my life – and will make it happen soon! Thank you for sharing on this wonderful Monday Mmorning – brightened my day!

  • sarahb1313
    February 3, 2014 6:52pm

    So…. funny commentary on Paris style, but I am thinking that now that you have finished your new book (which I am excited about, BTW), you have a little too much time on your hands.
    Entertaining as always, thanks!!

  • February 3, 2014 6:59pm

    I remember walking through the women’s department of Nordstrom a few years back and taking in the fashion world’s declaration that purple was the new black. At such moments that you’ve catalogued so thoroughly in your fun post, I find myself thinking of that poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. Somehow I think that we’ve taken her words to heart on a collective level.

  • Bonnie
    February 3, 2014 7:06pm

    Aubergine. Love the color, and this French word makes “eggplant” sound so much better!

  • Bernadette
    February 3, 2014 7:20pm

    Not my favorite color but what a whimsical post! It’s popping up everywhere!

  • Jared
    February 3, 2014 7:27pm

    My favorite color has been purple since I was a teenager. Partly this is because all of those colors you mentioned from lavender to magenta can be called purple. From a dusky indigo on the blue side to a violent violet, I love them all.

  • Anna
    February 3, 2014 7:35pm

    Hi David,
    What a fun post! It has made reminisce about my Paris visits. Sigh.
    BTW, I made a double batch of your Chocolate Chip Cookies last night. They are the best – everyone who has ever tried them agrees, including my husband who ate at least a dozen! But that’s okay, since one of his Christmas presents to me was an order for your new book, he can do no wrong!

  • Sonys
    February 3, 2014 7:54pm

    Of course you see purple and its variations all around! Pantone’s color of the year for.2014 is radiant orchid! Gorgeous!

  • Matt Senger
    February 3, 2014 8:04pm

    Purple seems a natural successor to FT’s Orange… I’m just saying

  • Tricia
    February 3, 2014 8:11pm

    And your blog came to me with an ad for T-Mobile – in their bright purple!

  • February 3, 2014 8:49pm

    Fun! That metro purchasing station…just looking at that purple ball roller-thingy gives me the sweats…I could never get it to work well! Sara

  • Erin
    February 3, 2014 8:53pm

    Fits right in with Pantones color of the year, “Radiant Orchid”

  • Katy
    February 3, 2014 8:56pm

    Very en vogue with the radiant orchid!

  • Nancy
    February 3, 2014 9:27pm

    Soooooo, to close the loop, what color bike did you get?!

  • Lori S.
    February 3, 2014 10:02pm

    Orchid (purple) is 2014’s colour of the year:


  • Pam
    February 3, 2014 10:26pm

    Looks like you’re enjoying your new camera! Fun post.

  • Ayesha
    February 3, 2014 10:45pm

    Maybe Harold went to Paris? This was my favorite book as a kid:

  • Joan
    February 3, 2014 10:45pm

    Purple is a welcome relief after the ubiquitous (and nauseating) neon green/yellow of the past few years. Since 2010, has anyone had any luck finding a throw pillow, vase or kitchen gadget at BHV, Leroy Merlin, etc … that didn’t practically glow in the dark? Amen to purple.

    And since color generally reflects mood, I wonder what purple – the color of royalty – says about the current state of mind of Parisians? Hmmm …

  • February 3, 2014 10:49pm

    Hehe! I was making an envelope yesterday. Yes, you guessed it, it was purple!

  • February 3, 2014 10:51pm

    Some of those are definitely pink not purple!

  • February 3, 2014 11:05pm

    Love the colours…and that sharp lens!!! Though agree with sundiegoeats – first shot looks pink on my monitor…

  • Judy
    February 4, 2014 12:34am

    It’s finally catching on – purple, and all it’s shades, has been my daughter’s (and many of her friends’ ) favorite color since she was a tiny lass – maybe 1 ½ years old. Now it’s 24 years later, and voilà! it’s in fashion. We’re vindicated.

  • Martha in KS
    February 4, 2014 12:35am

    Purple’s the new black! And it’s always been my favorite color. I’d LOVE a purple bike.

  • Katy
    February 4, 2014 12:43am

    Fun to see Paris through the purple haze. Down under here, in Melbourne, black is de rigueur for all seasons. But purple hit here 2 winters ago and there is a lot around here even in summer.

  • Simone
    February 4, 2014 12:59am

    I read your post on my iPhone which of course has a protective case in- what else- purple:) I have always adored every shade of purple & your post makes me want to return to Paris-even in the dead of winter!

    • Maria
      February 4, 2014 9:24pm

      Simone, hi
      lol, I have purple protectors for g3 phone 2! I am the only one with purple still, yeah!

  • February 4, 2014 2:24am

    What a fabulous post. Like many of your commentors I learnt recently that there is a colour of the year thanks to the Pantone people, and yes Paris is coming on trend early. I can only visit Paris from far off Australia occasionally, but when I was there last year I noticed Paris was actually awash in orange….


    I will be back in Paris later in the year, and hope to find more purple than orange.

  • Johnette
    February 4, 2014 2:49am

    Mais, c’est tout bon et jolie aussi
    J’aime le coleur prune et j’aime des prunes aussi.
    C’est tout !

  • Diane
    February 4, 2014 4:13am

    Tell us David, did you buy the purple bike!

  • João Víctor
    February 4, 2014 4:17am

    The purple virus attacked me some years ago, I have purple T-shirts, purple ties, purple underwear (oh, did I ever say that?!?!?!). But live in Brazil, in a few months the whole country will become green/yellow, to my displeasure.

  • Chandler in Las Vegas
    February 4, 2014 6:00am

    Daveed, Lovely post and I confess a preference for red-violet to blue-violet. However, the bicycle is sharp.

  • Annie
    February 4, 2014 6:51am

    LOL, David. Great post to start my day. Nice story there.

  • February 4, 2014 8:31am

    Plum was my wedding shade in ’08 and I’m still digging its boldness! Wow can’t believe you took all those purple photos around the city! Fun post!

  • February 4, 2014 9:55am

    You forgot Noura!

  • February 4, 2014 3:33pm

    just checked:
    today I don’t have my purple polo T shirt… but in our office I have a purple book and a shopping bag. I think I should search for something else ;)

    have a nice day!

  • February 4, 2014 4:49pm

    Love it David! I thought I might see a giant eggplant somewhere in there. Enjoy your bike, I’ve got an orange one and a teal one and just got rid of my car!

    • February 4, 2014 5:52pm
      David Lebovitz

      The French post office has these amazing yellow bikes and I think you can buy one somehow, although I hear they are rather heavy, and I’ve always wanted one. I’m sure they’re really rugged and I love the color and look of them.

  • Sierra
    February 5, 2014 12:02am

    Perfect purple post!

  • February 5, 2014 1:22am

    Funny how once you start noticing something, you can’t stop! These little daily glimpses got me all excited for my upcoming trip to Paris and Marseilles… I think the last time I was there, Velib’ was brand new. Can’t wait!

  • Margie C.
    February 5, 2014 1:35am

    Nothing to do with the color purple, but I wanted to alert you to the fact that Trader Joe’s is now featuring Kouigns Amann! See their Fearless Flyer: http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=1491

  • February 5, 2014 3:36pm

    Tres bien fait David – as they would say! I love how Cillit bang encapsulated all the pantones though! :)

  • heather
    February 5, 2014 10:04pm

    Thank you for Purple Paris. It was great way to forget about the cruel winter we have had so far on canada’s east coast. Now if only I could get to Paris…

  • February 6, 2014 1:53am

    This development is truly counter-revolutionary, as the color that symbolizes royalty is…purple.

  • aqua6
    February 8, 2014 1:10am

    There’s the blog that had a color them of photographs of Paris by an American couple. Lots of overlapping themes there, eh? They’ve since changed focus but they have a book and an Etsy shop and a Facebook page. Paris in Color is the book name and the Facebook page is “Obvious State”.

  • Steve
    February 9, 2014 6:50am

    Fear not! This, too, will pass, just as the once-relentless orange did, a few years ago.

  • Francois
    February 10, 2014 5:09am

    How could you forget the SNCF logo and the interior of the TGV:

    • February 10, 2014 10:01am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks ~ Honestly, I was thinking that it would take me a few weeks of compiling photos of purple things in Paris, and I would just carry my camera around and snap photos as I saw them. On Day #1, I was walking to lunch to meet a friend (which was just a few blocks away), when I saw almost 3/4rds of the purple signs, etc.. shown here. Yes, the SNCF seems to have embraced the color purple as well. It seems somewhat 70s, but judging from the other commenters, “orchid” the color of this year (2014, according to Pantone) – so vive la France!