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Freshly sprouted French cafe and con­cept store in Tiong Bahru.

You would think that Tiong Bahru couldn’t get cooler than it al­ready is but, et voila, it can. French cafe and con­cept store Merci Mar­cel has re­cently opened for busi­ness, im­part­ing a re­fresh­ing dose of joiede­vivre to the creative en­clave.

By day, folks can stream in for an es­presso or a leisurely brunch; by night, it turns into a brasserie serv­ing a tapas-style din­ner menu of French plates created for shar­ing, such as mar­i­nated crab ril­lettes ($18), tarte flam­bee ($24) and pork ten­der­loin ($24). As a con­cept store, Merci Mar­cel re­tails a hand-se­lected range of ar­ti­sanal gourmet food, fine drinks, art and lifestyle prod­ucts. It spe­cially cham­pi­ons small, in­de­pen­dent brands from Sin­ga­pore and Europe – cof­fee is lo­cally roasted by Tiong Hoe Spe­cialty Cof­fee, adorable il­lus­trated sweets from Le choco­lat des Fran­cais, and chic eye­wear from Parisian brand Izip­izi.

Mo­tifs of the brand – the straw boater in its logo and menu art­work – were in­spired by the im­pres­sion­ist paint­ings Boat­ing by Edouard Manet (1874) and Lun­cheon of the Boat­ing Party by Pierre-Au­guste Renoir (1881). Merci Mar­cel also wants to em­u­late the spirit evoked by the fa­mous paint­ings – a mod­ern per­son­al­ity who en­joys the good life, and also sup­ports in­de­pen­dent brands.

Merci Mar­cel’s in­te­rior de­sign was con­cep­tu­alised by Lim Siew Hui of Hui De­signs. Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Parisian restau­rants in the districts of Le Marais and Mont­martre, she wanted to in­fuse their cosy vibe with the lo­cal and trop­i­cal. The in­te­rior pal­ette is a vivid, cit­rus tone, ac­cented by the lush, ver­dant sus­pended plants and rat­tan chairs.

Don’t think that Merci Mar­cel is just French in name, though. Prints of the pen­dant lights hang­ing over the bar counter are by Parisian ate­lier An­toinette Pois­son, and the fresh flow­ers on each ta­ble are pre­pared by Aude Gi­raud from Ask a French Flow­ers, a Paris­trained Sin­ga­pore-based flo­ral de­signer.

If you, like me, find your­self pin­ing for a taste of Paris every now and then, Merci Mar­cel is beck­on­ing from its quaint venue in Tiong Bahru.


Hang­ing plants and string lights cre­ate a de­light­ful am­bi­ence in the gar­den pa­tio.

The long bar counter is the cen­tre­piece of the main din­ing space.

MID­DLE The Mix of 5 cheese plat­ter ($36) serves an as­sort­ment of farm cheeses with baguette slices. TOP Fresh ta­ble flow­ers by Ask a French flow­ers.

TOP, MID­DLE The gourmet cor­ner stocks a wide range of food­stuffs from fruit juices, jams, and iced teas to cho­co­lates that are created by small pro­duc­ers.

(OP­PO­SITE) TOP Pen­dant lamps made from prints by Parisian pa­per stu­dio An­toinette Pois­son. BOT­TOM Bri­tish artist Rick Smith painted a mu­ral with the words “Merci Mar­cel” in our is­land’s four of­fi­cial lan­guages.

Merci Mar­cel is owned by French cou­ple MarieChar­lotte Ley and An­toine Rouland (pic­tured) of Frog’ys, the F&B com­pany that opened the French bars O Batig­nolles and O Comp­toir.

ABOVE Grac­ing the en­trance are can­vas art­works de­pict­ing Lee Kuan Yew and Charles de Gaulle, Sin­ga­pore and France’s most fa­mous lead­ers, created by Sin­ga­pore­based French artist Gabriel Du­fourcq.

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