We're travelling to Paris, London, New York and Rome to round up the best things to do and see in the world's most stylish shopping cities...
Words by Siân Parry
No one ever really needs an excuse to go to Paris. Starting from London, Eurostar can have you in the heart of the city and raring to go in a little under three hours. As the saying goes, Paris is always a good idea.
But how do you really get to know the city of light? A great way is to choose one quartier and get to know it properly: take to the streets, shop and live like a local for a few days. One of the most compact and distinctive is le Marais, the oldest quartier in the city, dating back to the 17th century and full of charm.
So what are the uniquely Parisian brands that you won’t find at home? What do real French women seek out on the streets of the Rive Droite?
The French are passionate about lingerie and Fifi Chachnil is the queen. Her charming boutique is situated in a courtyard on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. For 30 years, her beautiful pieces have been created in the atelier above the shop. As well as addictive pastel coloured dream lingerie, she also produces ready to wear clothing, ethically made angora cardigans (one is never enough) and her delightful signature perfume.
68 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Joy is a charming small boutique in the heart of the Marais, stocking a carefully edited selection of French girl chic from brands like Vanessa Bruno Athé and See by Chloé, as well as jewellery and accessories.
38 rue du Roi de Sicile
Maison Fragonard is a well known and much loved French perfume house, though not as easily available in the UK. It was founded before the First World War and became established in Grasse, home of fine perfume. There are more than 60 fragrances, as well as scented candles, ceramics, embroidered linens and the most charming boxed soaps which make perfect gifts if you can bear to give them away!
51 Rue des Francs Bourgeois
Just down the street you will find Manoush, typically Parisian, though not in a pared down jeans and insouciance way – but rather a bohemian explosion of colour and embellishment. Find gorgeous dresses in jewel colours and ruffled blouses.
75 Rue Vieille du Temple
A visit to Merci is a must. It’s a cool but welcoming concept store where you can buy a roll of woven ribbon for 10 Euros, or a Marni dress for considerably more. There’s also homewares, a restaurant with a view of the garden and a used book café. It’s a real destination: you could spend hours there, and all profits go to charity.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
Marilyn Feltz quite literally is her brand personified. The designer has a charming boutique in the authentically Parisian Passage Bourg L’Abbe, nestled amongst furniture makers and cosy cafes. Her clothes have vintage flair and are unapologetically romantic. Just add a beret and drift through the Paris of your dreams! Her pieces are all made locally in her atelier, many using limited edition fabrics sourced from small family run French manufacturers.
17 Passage du Bourg l’Abbé
One of the best things to do when in Paris is to sit in a café and watch the world go by. One of the most authentic cafés in the Marais is the Le Petit Fer au Cheval, grab a café crème at the original 1903 zinc bar and soak up the atmosphere.
Glou is a stylish but cosy restaurant with a focus on simple high quality ingredients and an exciting wine list, many organic and available by the glass. Sit upstairs in the window and enjoy the view of the beautiful Picasso museum.
101 Rue Vieille du Temple
Les Chouettes is the kind of Parisian restaurant you dream of stumbling upon, a beautiful local bistro, popular with a fashionable Marais crowd. A stylish 3 storeys, with restaurant on the ground floor and a cocktail bar above the interior reminiscent of the Eiffel tower construction has echos of art deco glamour
32 Rue de Picardie
The charming Hotel du Petit Moulin is ideally situated in the heart of Le Marais, tucked away in a 17th century building which housed the oldest bakery in Paris. With it’s beautiful 1900s shop frontage, it’s no surprise that some people still pop in hoping to buy a baguette where Victor Hugo bought his.
The 17 rooms in this privately owned hotel were designed by Christian Lacroix, so expect rich colours, theatricality and bohemian mixes of antique and contemporary pieces.
No room is the same, so take a look online and select individually.
Considering it’s buzzy location, the feel of the hotel is intimate and quiet with cocooning beds, Hermés products in the bathroom and an honesty bar downstairs. When you can drag yourself out, and away from the delicious breakfast, there’s so much to do on the doorstep, from the beautiful and historical Place des Vosges to the Musée Picasso and the famous Pompidou Centre. But if shopping is your main mission, the hotel can arrange a custom-made experience with a local shopping guide to open up their little black book, whether you’re looking for the best vintage stores or jewellery.
Rooms from 205 Euros
Stays from 443 Euros, based on two sharing an overnight stay on B&B basis with a three-hour personalised tour of Le Marais with Localers. Book your tour with the Localers at +33 (0) 1 83 64 92 01 or by heading to their website.
Travel by Eurostar with up to 21 daily services from St Pancras with one way fares starting at £29 each way.
In a city as diverse and trend-setting as Paris, there’s so much to see and do. This guide’s just a drop in the bucket, but it’s a good place to start if you’re planning a sneaky getaway weekend.
Bon Weekend’s shopping in Paris! You’ll feel like a local whilst getting to know this most charming and ancient part of the city.