Last week, I was in Paris for two days. Jet-lagged? Definitely but I never let an hour go to waste in my favourite city. When I found myself alone for one afternoon, I took off a whirlwind shopping tour. Paris has so many great neighbourhoods but in the interest of time, I focused on the Rive Gauche: Saint- Germain and the blocks surrounding my hotel. Here’s a snapshot of one of the city’s most charming shopping areas.
A two minute walk from my hotel, the Bel Ami, I found myself at the corner of rue Jacob and rue Bonaparte. Here you’ll find a charming outpost of Laduree, world renowned for delicious bonbon-hued macaroons. Packaged in pretty boxes, these make a treasured gift for fashionable friends. No sweet tooth? Pick up one of their candles instead.
In the neighbouring blocks, I came across a handful of tiny boutiques packed with perfect hostess gifts – hand printed table linens, handcrafted dinnerware and homemade jams. On this trip, I discovered Isabel Marant’s boutique at 1 rue Jacob. Known for her slouchy trousers and embellished boots, the designer represents Paris “it” girl chic for a fraction of what you’ll pay at other labels. Next door is a small boutique packed with perforated leather handbags and totes designed by her husband, Jerome Dreyfuss. The pair recently opened boutiques in Soho, New York as well. If you have time, head down rue Bonaparte towards the river and turn right to find a Dries van Noten boutique tucked among the antique shops.
Walking away from the Seine, head up to the Boulevard Saint-Germain for a coffee and croissant at one of the legendary cafes such as Café Flore or Les Deux Magot. While it’s expensive (coffee for three of us cost 20 Euro) a sidewalk table offers a fantastic runway view for people watching. Across the street, you’ll find Ralph Lauren’s stunning new four storey flagship and café, Ralph’s, which is becoming the hot spot for Parisians.
A few short blocks north, don’t miss rue Grenelle aka shoe street. Here’s where you’ll find all of the top footwear boutiques including Bruno Frisoni, Stuart Weitzman and the name that sets footwear lovers hearts aflutter, Christian Louboutin. It breaks my heart that his designs don’t fit my feet (and trust me, I’ve tried to force them) but I always stop in to look. French staples, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes and Sonia Rykiel, also have boutiques here. A block further north is Le Bon Marche, an upscale department store with excellent accessory sections – particularly footwear and handbags.
I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter.