Style City: Paris

December 30, 2009

Daily Digest, Lifestyle

Style City: Paris

By AnnMarie Proudfoot

Email info@whatshewears.ie with your favourite city tips and you could appear in our next Style City Guide!

Paris in the spring conjures up images of budding flowers, breakfast on the terrace, walks along the Seine and sipping wine in the afternoon which are all enticing and delightful but on a recent pre-Christmas visit, I discovered that Paris can be just as magical in winter.

The City of Lights definitely lives up to its name with the Champs-Elysées lit up as far as you can see. In true Parisian style the lighting and Christmas decorations were elegant and understated. The infamous Eiffel Tower didn’t fail to impress with glistening lights outlining its wonderful structure.

All the designer shops had their own take on the Christmas look with a variety of gold, red, turquoise, black, silver and pink garlands and trees adorning the doorways. The Christmas markets dotted around the city also add that magical feeling to the festive cheer. The mulled wine on a cold Parisian day is a warm welcome, the white option surprisingly nice.

With my shopping radar on, I scouted through the markets seeking out bargains. The markets have a variety of gifts, foods, clothing and accessories. My friend and I picked up some cosy hats to keep us warm while we continued our cycle.  I would recommend hopping on one of the many bikes available around the city. It is a great way to sightsee and you get to cover a good distance of the city. (The Paris bike rental system is called “Velib” — short for “free bike”, see http://www.velib.paris.fr/ for more details).

Shopping in Paris

If like me, you feel a holiday cannot exclude some shopping, then Paris can be no exception. I didn’t get to do as much shopping as hoped but I take comfort in the fact that I will be back! Although I was mesmerised with the variety of stores available, I decided to do some research into the more alternative designer shopping in Paris.

The ‘Mouton a cinq pattes’ in the 6th arrondissement specialises in discounted designer clothes from last season. All the clothes are new but have the labels removed so you can test your designer knowledge and see what you can pick out. As outlined in the website the store name means five-legged sheep playing on the fact that this is a rare find! You may want to turn off the sound when opening the website as the chanting is a little strange!
http://www.moutonacinqpattesparis.com

If you are looking for the designer gear with the labelling still intact, try the Dépôt-Vente de Passy just up the road from the designer stores with a much reduced price tag. The products are second hand but on the website you can see the condition of the product. However, before you race to a shopping frenzy note that although the prices are much cheaper than the original, they are still expensive.
http://www.paris-consignment-store.com/ 14, rue de la Tour Paris 16ème

Marc Jacobs shop

The great thing about this store is that in addition to the expensive Marc Jacob range there is a “specials item” Marc by Marc Jacobs collection with much cheaper prices including patent clutch bags for €44 and wallets for €32.
Marc by Marc Jacobs, 19, Place du Marché Saint Honoré, 7500, Paris

Another option is to go outlet shopping to La Vallee (35 mins from the city centre). Check out the website to see the array of discounted labels available. Kildare village is listed as a sister village. I will definitely be taking a trip out there on my next visit!

Louis Vuitton shop Paris

Here’s a trick on how to jump the long queues for this French fashion establishment, get rooftop views of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy a cultural exhibition at the same time!  Read more here.
Louis Vuitton, 101 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, www.louisvuitton.com/espaceculturel

Paris Accommodation

With all this shopping planned you will need somewhere to stay. Our taxi driver complimented our choice of Arrondisment (district) and I would agree that it was very central and beautiful with designer stores at our doorstep. However, it’s a little quiet in the evening around where we stayed.
Hôtel Cordelia Opéra-Madeleine 11 Rue Greffulhe, 08. Champs Elysées

Another option is renting an apartment in Paris for the duration of your stay, see www.rentapart.com. A few friends and I stayed in a bijou apartment on  7 rue du Louvre, 75001 Paris, a lovely area near the Louvre museum.  For €115 a night, it was centrally located and we felt like true Parisians buying croissants and baguettes in the local boulangerie. (Note from the editor).

From observation and recommendation Le Marais is a more all rounder place to stay with an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants. They tend to have more quirky and affordable shops.

Caron de Beaumarchais is a small boutique hotel in the heart of Marais. Its façade has an appearance of an old world antique shop which adds to its charm. The old world charm continues through to the rooms, they are small so be sure to pack compact or you may be sleeping with your case! This however doesn’t take from the overall appeal of the hotel with the breakfast being exceptional and large. Friends of mine stayed here on their honeymoon and looked forward to the morning feast each day.

Paris Restaurants

When choosing a restaurant I would recommend doing some research before heading over as some of the best are hidden away off the beaten track.  If you would like to treat yourself to a very Parisian style evening, try Laperouse.  Founded in 1766 on the banks of the Seine, this restaurant is steeped in history and could tell a tale or two. If you are looking for very romantic evening. there is the option to request a private dining room.

For me the trip would not have been complete without going to the Moulin Rouge. I love the movie and was intrigued to see the costumes and dancing in the flesh (pun intended!).  The theatre is lovely and with champagne on arrival I was very quickly warming to the place.

The costumes were spectacles in their own right with a mirage of peacock splays throughout the show. The dancing however was not as impressive as I had hoped and the inclusion of male dancers just seemed a little odd! All in all though it was a very memorable evening. You can book online or alternatively, get your hotel to book for you.

As with most red light districts the surrounding bars are tacky, so after the show I would recommend jumping in a taxi to get back to a better night spot.

You can enjoy lovely coffee all around Paris. In touristy areas they seriously overcharge for coffee (up to €6 a cup!), so check the prices before you order! Note that you pay much more for your coffee if you sit outside, (as opposed to inside) and it’s cheaper still if you drink your coffee up at the bar counter.

Paris Guidebook

Before you go, it’s worth checking the local Time Out for a list of shops or to find out what’s happening when you visit. There’s also a list of free things to do in Paris– great if you’re doing Paris “on a budget”.

Whether spring, summer, autumn or winter, Paris has a drawing charm that can be enjoyed by all.

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6 Responses to “Style City: Paris”

  1. orla Says:

    I love Paris and would definately recommend that when there you pop into the George V hotel for a cocktail in the bar. If the budget stretches, dinner in Le Cinq is worth the experience. THe hotel is located just a couple of minutes from Avenue des Champs-Elysées. In fact, I find that the easiest way to get there is to get to the Louis Vuitton store, and take a left! Well worth it.

  2. Annemarie Says:

    Cocktails in Paris! sounds like a great idea

  3. Dee Says:

    Super article on Paris…will definitely be following up on your tips..thanks a lot

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