I’ve been on a long quest to find a new mattress in Paris, and got a bit obsessed about all-natural mattresses after spending the night on the Coco-mat bed at the Hidden Hotel. Of course, these fabulous mattresses cost a few thousand euros, so looking for something more affordable (ie, under €1000), I scoured the web. But I found nothing in Paris, nor in that price range. I considered natural latex (available at La Redoute), and drooled over the fancy, all-organic combinations of the two sold at Matelas sur Mesure. I was hoping an natural mattress would cut down on my allergies, help regulate the cold and heat throughout the year, and last longer than the sorry-excuse-for-a-mattress that the owners of my flat got for me when I moved in five years ago. I also thought it would be nice to sleep on something non-toxic, made locally.
Totally by chance, I found two places in the city that still make their own 100% wool mattresses by hand. I found the Literie St-Germain des Prés (8 rue Grégoire-de-Tours, 6th, tel 01 43 26 57 92) a few weeks ago when having a drink with a friend at the Café du Marché on Rue de Buci. When I mentioned casually I was looking for a hand-made mattress he replied, “There’s a mattress place right around the corner" (bonus points to Jeff for stumping the Paris expert). And there, in a totally non-descript atelier, was a man almost hidden under a pile of wool, prepping it for the mattress he was making. He quoted me €850 for a small double bed, and told me it would take about ten days. Then he left for summer vacation.
Then last week, when I was sitting at a café in the Marché d’Aligre with tour clients (showing them how to be locals, of course), I noticed a shop across the street that I had walked past countless times, Les Laines du Nord: Special Literie (19bis rue de Cotte, 12th, tel 01 43 43 61 77). I popped in and asked the price, and the same mattress was just €680 (the rent is probably cheaper in the 12th) delivery up to my 7th floor flat included. And the owner said he was around for at least the next few days. He even took me downstairs to show me the machine that fluffs the wool, the rack where the fabric is stretched and stuffed, and the special table with a sewing machine that goes around the edges. Pretty low-tech, I love it! So I put in my order for an extra-firm wool mattress in a classic slate-striped cotton ticking (you can also choose damask patterns in pastel colors), and it was ready two days later.
They told me to come back in 10 years to have the mattress redone: they pick it up in the morning, take out the wool stuffing, clean and refluff it, put a new cover on it, and then deliver it back to you before bedtime. So instead of hauling the old one away to the dump (like the one they hauled out of my flat this morning), you reuse and recycle. Not a bad deal.
Of course neither of the shops mentioned here have websites. These are artisans, not bloggers. ;-) But you can have a peek at the process here.