Ah, Paris, you’ve captured my heart again … and the better part of my wallet. Taking advantage of the English long weekend, I headed over to Paris for a short break of sightseeing, picnic-partaking (think: champagne, cheese and baguettes under perfect blue skies) and a spot of shopping.
It was bliss, but be warned about Paris in August, especially if you’re serious about shopping and food. Most of the city shuts down for the whole month, as the locals take off for their summer holidays. Many of the shops and restaurants I had planned to visit were closed. The upside is that it’s quieter than usual and summer is the perfect time in Paris to indulge in a cheeky 3pm framboise glace.
If you want to get the best out of Paris shopping, you need to be well-prepared and sort out what you want to see and do in advance, and then tackle it geographically.
Paris is divided into districts (aka arrondissements) that spiral out from the centre of the city. (Trust Paris to have a city plan with such an avant-garde design motif – “Grid? Non!” – recalling the delicate pattern on a snail’s shell, or the luscious swirl of buttercream icing on top of a cupcake, or the infinite array of shopping opportunities … OK, I’ll stop now).
I stayed in my favourite part of Paris: the Marais, which is steeped in history and has a strong Jewish culture. This utterly delightful little place in the world is home to a plethora of boutiques, galleries, bars, cafes and some of the best courtyards in the city.
Here’s my list for shopping in the 3rd arr:
15 rue de Poitou
This light-filled boutique stocks a wide selection of cool labels, including See by Chloe, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Preen, Cheap Monday and True Religion. I made a beeline for the traditional French Repetto leather ballet pumps, which are beautifully crafted and have the softest leather uppers – truly the comfiest flats around (and worn by French ballerinas!).
10 rue Charlot
(Closed 3 weeks in August)
This hugely talented Australian fashion designer is known for his flattering cuts, exquisite tailoring and elegant designs. Oh, and Cate Blanchett is also a big fan.
68 blvd. de Sebastopol
Stop here for slouchy leather bags.
Abou d'Abi Bazar
10 rue des Francs Bourgeois
This boutique is a fashion-crowd favourite, stocking mostly Parisian designers including Tara Jarmon, Antik Batik, Isabel Marant and Stella Forest.
123 rue Vieille due Temple
Stock up on cult cotton tees, tank tops and bodysuits – the wide-scoop necklines are ultra-flattering. Don’t miss the cute baby range.
118 rue Vieille du Temple
Beautiful French baby and children’s store, with a fashion-forward children’s clothing line (think tiny floral-print blouses, and knits in muted shades of charcoal, oyster and tobacco). There is also a fine selection of nursery furniture, bed and bathware and children’s books (including the French Martine series). I liked their cute-n-quirky duck, squirrel, lamb and mushroom lamps (around €45).
112 rue Vielle-du-Temple
Cult French brand with a minimalist aesthetic. Fabulous jeans. I love their new season range, which features smock shift dresses in black and mustard.
Hysope & cie
104 rue Vielle du Temple
Come here for beautiful blooms and creative floral arrangements. The window display is a visual treat.
100 rue Vieille du Temple
My favourite Parisian designer, known for her feminine tailoring and unfussy aesthetic. Check out her lush range of handbags, including the new Autumn/Winter metallic leather line.
99 rue Vieille du Temple
This women’s fashion boutique is a local favourite. I like their Autumn/Winter line-up of cotton jersey tops and smock dresses with lace panel inserts.
98 rue Vieille du Temple
Come here for quality cashmere and brightly-coloured cute frocks. Their Missoni-inspired striped dresses are most covetable.
95 rue Vieille du Temple
Oh, the roses!
75 rue Vieille du Temple
Ultra-feminine boutique with a range of beautiful frocks and accessories. I like their current ‘60s-style dresses and coats with gathered sleeves (although I didn’t dig the rabbit fur collars). Expect lots of pink and kittens.
68 rue Vieille du Temple
It’s a bit of thrill to view the entire current collection of Jamin Puech’s divine handbags in one place. Each piece is a work of art in itself, exquisitely crafted in a breathtaking array of materials and embellished with buttons, embroidery and beading. The sales wall held me captivated for a long time, but I was equally enamoured by the stunning hand-crafted flower brooches. The perfect Paris souvenir.
Paul & Joe Sister/ Homme
56/58 rue Vieille du Temple
Get a fix of Sophie Albou’s ultra-desirable label for both men and women at this twin shop. Autumn/Winter 07-08 sees more ‘60s-style smock shift dresses (big trend) as well as blouses with bell-sleeves and loads of soft knitted berets and hats (yes, I know it’s Paris, but trust me, hats are going to be huge – especially perched on a jaunty angle with a sweep of fringe peeping out).
Where to eat in the 3rd arr:
La Chaise au Plafond
10 rue de Tresor
French food at reasonable prices (and Martin Grant’s favourite local bistro).
28 rue Vieille du Temple
Make a shopping pitstop at this café.
47 rue de Bretagne
Head here for the delicious couscous, friendly staff and a buzzy atmosphere.
78 rue Vieille du Temple
Favourite local café for models and photographers.
Other things to see in the 3rd arr:
Musee National Picasso
5 rue Thorigny
Allow time to check out this gallery devoted to Picasso’s paintings, sculptures and ceramics.
Galerie Yvon Lambert
108 rue Vieille du Temple
Contemporary art gallery. If you’re in Paris during September and October this year, don’t miss the Andy Warhol Intimate exhibition.