Following on from my recent London Lobang City Guide, I thought it might be time for another.
I love this city. The women living here really do dress exceptionally stylishly, they choose their clothes and the brands they wear very carefully; they never get confused in thinking that brands are style.
STAY: Hotel Pavillon des Lettres is lovely and central but without the hefty price tag.
Hotel Pavillon des Lettres, 12 Rue des Saussaies
SHOP: Buy Inès de la Fressange’s book ‘Parisian Chic’ and eat it. I’ve written about it before here if you need more info on why it’s utterly brilliant.
- Bags: NBF Inès recommends Upla for satchels (you can’t wear branded stuff when your staying in the wilds of Brittany like I am and it also looks good in a city). I love mine in khaki and for its natural anti-it bag effect.
Upla, 5 Rue Saint-Benoît
- Jumpers: It’s not quite the right time of year, but a navy blue V-neck in cashmere is a Parisian style staple. They go to Eric Bompard for theirs (be warned, the sizing varies quite a lot depending on the style of the jumper; don’t be tempted buy via mail order as you need to try these babies on. He also has stores in New York and London).
Eric Bompard, 91 Avenue des Champs-Élysées
- Shoes: A pair of red low heeled Roger Vivier shoes will make you feel like Dorothy.
Roger Vivier, 29 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
- Scarves: Hermès, natch. I didn’t buy, but I did learn. The girls on the scarf counter are charming and teach you how to tie the style that’s best for you. Hermès, slightly distressingly, seems to have become rather like a department store; there were masses of tourists in there for whom this shop no longer represents luxury but a right of passage.
Hermès, 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
- Vintage & Second Hand Chic: If you are a fan of dépôt-vente (sounds so much better in French than ‘second hand’) then head over to the charming ladies at Vintage Valois who only sell the very best. I’ve written about them recently here.
Vintage Valois, 8 Rue des Saussaies
LUNCH: After all that walking, you need to eat. We had our best ever lunch this time at Café Le Chalet, an unobtrusive little café in the heart of the smart 16th Arrondissement, where I had insisted we visit in order to snap up some serious second hand bargains (turned out the particular shop wasn’t up to much). This place was though and had fabulous people-watching opps as les françaises bien élevés went about their daily business. Ask for a table outside.
It was whilst sitting here that saw this particular dog-loving Parisian load his two pooches on to his Harley and drive off:
Cafe Le Chalet, Rue de la Tour (they don’t seem to have a website)
DINNER: Like all good places, we found this one by mistake.
Bissac is only two months old and has been started by a team who’ve all worked together for years in over-priced, starred establishments in the best parts of town. This is their breakaway venture and it’s packed out. Always. We got a table and loved their classic French fare coupled with plenty of atmosphere. It’s reasonably priced too and has a wonderful, ancient wine cellar in the basement. Here’s the talented genius that is Chef Damien who we befriended after dinner.
Bissac, 10 Rue de la Bourse
Chez Julian is also a dinner time classic with its beautiful old fashioned interior, although it’s more fun to sit outside and watch the world go by. Food is good and generally raved about by most, but I didn’t think it was as good as Bissac. It also cost considerably more.
Chez Julian, 1 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe
A tiny bit more shopping to work off those calories…
HOMEWARE: This is quite an easy one to nail. There’s Tsé & Tsé who are worth a visit for quirky pieces. They were the originators of the test tube vase before Conran made it mainstream, buying the design off them. Here it is in all its glory in their window:
Tsé & Tsé, 7 Rue Saint-Roch
Just around the corner from them on Rue St Honoré is a lovely place for snapping up beautiful, handmade individual china pieces. I loved their drinks mats made from curled up porcelain playing cards as well as their cups and saucers.
It was their window display that drew me in though:
Astier de Villatte, 173 Rue St Honoré
Only a hop skip and a jump away, also on the same stretch of street, don’t forget Collette – the coolest of concept stores…ever.
Lastly you can’t ignore a bit of culture: Musée d’Orsay is, I think, my favourite Paris gallery that – apart from a great collection of modern art – isn’t too big to get around if you have a time limit.
For a bit of open space, café life and a great selection of independent shops and shoppers, look not further than Le Marais with the glorious Place des Vosges in its centre.
Vivre La France!