27- 29 June 2008
For Part Un, click here
I love Paris in summer even more than I loved Paris in winter. And Paris en soldes is the best trip for a solo girl....
The great thing about travelling alone is that I'm free to turn up the Shopping Machine. So, 9:35am found me waiting in amongst a crowd stylish Parisian women for the opening of Printemps (where foreigners get a further 10% off with a pre-printed voucher from their website), and then....
Fauchon. Possibly the most famous food shop in Paris, the flagship store of this traiteur, patisserie and boulangerie is where food meets fashion in sleek hot pink surroundings.
Hediard. A more classic food store selling teas, chocolates, sweets and wines. Their crepe dentelles covered in milk chocolate were a hit with the legal team at Discovery.
La Maison du Chocolat. Paris is a haven for gourmet chocolate lovers, so I only pick this shop out because you can buy nice cooler bags for your chocolate goodies! A large bag in the shop's distinctive burnt orange is 8.20 euros and makes a nice souvenir.
Maille. I love that Paris can support a house of mustard. This 200 year old mustard maker sells its standard range as well as ceramic pots filled with fresh mustard on tap.
Maison de la Truffe. If you fancy blowing more money on food at Place de la Madeleine, try the truffles (the pig-hunted kind) here.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris. A footnote to my previous visit - only go in the morning. During the day, it is filled with ambling tourists and hectic locals and lining up at the cashier becomes quite a stressful experience.
Madeleine Sely. A tiny jewel-box of an umbrella shop, filled with the kind of frilly parasols that a glamorous countess would use - as only royalty and lottery winners would be able to afford one for 700 euros!
Essentiel. This label is originally from Antwerp, and it sells feminine silky fashion which is very reasonable (on sale). I loved my flippy blue skirt so much I seriously considered going back the next day to buy another skirt I had spotted that day.
The Marais is one of the few shopping areas open on Sundays, so it seemed that every local and tourist was jostling past the kebab shop intersection to get to the bargains at the great boutiques. If you want to buy great quality shirts with unusual details to make you stand out from the crowd, head to the massive selection around Rue de Turenne. Tim loves his shirts from Coton Doux and XOOS - one may even get its debut in 10 Downing Street!. I was drawn to this hotel bistro because there always seemed to be a line of locals outside. After a hard day's shopping, it was wonderful to sit at a pavement table with my sunglasses, surreptiously checking out the stylish locals and sweaty tourists strolling by. I stretched out my prime location over three courses: six large garlicky escargot, an unexpectedly deconstructed poule au pot and classic tarte tatin. Only 35 euros for 2 hours of entertainment and joyous food.
Musee d'Orsay. Housed in a spacious Victorian railway station, this beautiful art gallery contains some seminal impressionist and post-impressionist artwork. The last time I visited threw a tantrum when I was made to leave after five hours. This time around, I had the luxury of spending as much time as I wanted on key works while harried tourists took five seconds to peer through their viewfinder, trying to get a good shot around my immovable form. I appreciated the details of the slightly crazed and unexpected colours in Van Gogh's Church at Anvers; the puff of blue smoke bellowing into the pointed roof of Monet's Gare St Lazare; the hazy languidness of Renoir's Chemin Montant; the ghostly forms in the underlayer of Degas' ballerina paintings; and the golden vibrancy of Seurat's Circus.
Promenade along the Seine after dinner and admire the sunset lighting up the beautiful buildings in soft gold.
There are lots of nice hotels in Paris, but I wanted to stay somewhere that felt like the real city. My Parisian B&B agency found me a fantastically convenient (Boulevard St Germain-des-Pres, 6th arrondissement), quiet, clean and cheap (45 euros a night) single room with private bathroom. The middle-aged proprietor was friendly, non-obstrusive, and put out massive bread selection each morning for breakfast. A highly recommended experience.
T: +33 1 70 39 38 00
Hediard: 21 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris and other locations
T: +33 1 43 12 88 88
La Maison du Chocolate: 19 rue de Sevres and other location
Maille: 6 Place de la Madeleine Paris 75008
T: +33 (0)1 4015 0600
Maison de la Truffe: 19 Place de la Madeleine
T: +33 1 42 65 53 22
Madeleine Gely: 218 Blvd St Germain
T: +33 1 42 22 63 35
Essential: Rue de Tournon 11-13, Paris and other locations
T: +33 1 43 26 17 38
Les Boutiques du Musee d'Orsay: 75343 Paris
T: +33 1 40 49 47 22
Cotelac: 10 Rue Mahler, 75004 Paris and other locations
T: +33 1 44 54 32 21
Coton Doux: 37 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris and other locations
T: +33 1 40 27 03 33
XOOS: 37-39 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
T: +33 1 42 76 92 30
Le Comptoir du Relais: 5 carrefour de l'Odeon, 75006 Paris
T: +33 1 44 27 07 97
Le Restaurant: 1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur 75007 Paris
T: +33 1 45 49 42 33