Shopping in and around Paris

Guest post by Bonney Bailey 

Paris has to be one of the most popular shopping cities in the world. Here, high-end chic rubs shoulders with vintage fashion, making this the ultimate city to shop ’til you drop. Whether you’re spending a romantic weekend away or taking the kids to Eurodisney Paris you’ll never be far away from some first class shopping opportunities.

1. Avenue Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Dedicated to high end fashion, Avenue Montaigne is the place to shop – and be seen. This famous  street is home to fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Fendi, Ralph Lauren, Christian Lacroix and Bulgari. You can easily do some credit card damage here, although there’s nothing wrong with window shopping! The fashion continues along neighboring Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where you’ll find the flagship stores of Hermès, Lanvin and Lancôme. Not surprisingly, it’s also where you’ll find two of the major Parisian powerhouses – the President of France at the Élysée Palace and the headquarters of French Vogue.

2. Les Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market
There is nothing like a Parisian flea market to bring out the bargain hunter in even the most high-end fashionista. From antique jewelery to vintage perfume bottles, this is a magical place to rummage for treasures, whether to find souvenirs, gifts for someone special, or a beautiful trinket to call your own. Get in early for the crème de la crème of clothing, jewelery, art and home goods.

Les Puces Saint Ouen Flea Market by ParisSharing

3. Le Marais district
Vintage fashion has had something of a revival over the past few years. Yet, while this now seems to extend to the shiny polyester collections of second-hand stores of England, Parisian vintage fashion is on another level of style altogether. Les Marais is home to one of the greatest concentrations of vintage shops in Paris. From appointment-only costumiers to general vintage stores, a determined rummage might reveal a rare Chanel jacket or Hermès scarf. Prête-Moi Paris’ very first blog post was on one such of these vintage stores!

4. La Vallée Village
Even Disneyland Paris holidays can involve some Parisian retail therapy. (Why should the kids have all the fun?) La Vallée Village is a luxury outlet center featuring a huge collection of major designer brands at over 95 boutiques, and everything is at a reduced price. Conveniently, it’s only five minutes away from Disneyland Paris, so you can spend the day enjoying the rides with the kids and then take a little shopping spree with them afterwards. (There’s even designer children’s wear available here!) For those staying in one of the Disney hotels, there’s a dedicated shuttle service that runs straight to La Vallée Village. This shopping haven is open 7 days a week (excluding Christmas day, January 1st and May 1st) so you can easily fit your shopping trip into your Disney trip.

5. Les Galeries Lafayette
This 10-storey department store in the 9th arrondissement of Paris covers everything from bedding to bridalwear. There are some huge designer names here, from Burberry to Vivienne Westwood, but there is plenty for those whose budget won’t quite stretch to luxury brands. There is even a gourmet food and drink department with all manner of foodie indulgences, and an on site travel agent. Its huge glass dome and art deco interior makes this one of the chicest department store experiences you can have.

Another perk about this department store is the free fashion show held there on Fridays to show the different designers that the store features!

Galeries Lafayette by edmundv

As you’ll have gathered, Paris offers a diverse selection of unrivaled shopping experiences, so break out the credit cards or save up your euros, wear comfortable shoes and hydrate and feed yourselves. This is not shopping to be taken lightly!

Best girl friend date ever!

So, my dear friend was in town recently, which gave e the opportunity to run around the city at a speed I normally save for exercise, and to see and do a number of things that sort of slip into oblivion when life gets going on it’s daily grind spin.

Her visit was a welcome breath of fun air, that helped shake of the winter blues.

I am sharing with you one of our evening escapades, because it was just about the best girl friend date ever!

Having a moderate budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy little luxuries in Paris, ladies. After a little Lebanese dinner, in the 9th district, we headed over to the Champs Elysées for dessert. Yes, the Champs. Honestly, I hardly ever go there unless I have to…snubbing it like a left bank “bobo”. But, I just may go on more occasions than before now that I know what fun it can be if you hit the right spots at the right times…

Dessert was at the Ladurée boutique, 75, avenue des Champs Elysées – 75008 Paris, open until 11:30pm on weeknights, and 12:30am on Saturdays. We arrived at about 10:30pm, and stayed until midnight, sipping tea and nibbling the sweet creations from this popular French pastry house.

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As some of my readers may have deciphered, I am highly lactose/casein intolerant, and can’t have anything containing milk, butter, cheese or cream. Therefor I only indulge in macarons made with jam, raspberry, black currant, strawberry etc.). I had asked the server to bring me a few of those to go with my tea. We had the Mille et Une Nuits tea, by the way which is a slightly oriental spiced green tea with orange blossom, rose and ginger flavors that are capable of melting your brain into one languishing paradise… Mmmm. In the upstairs tea room we indulged in the delights set before us sitting like dames in the Rococo décorum and marble topped tables.
IMAG2669 I was saving my raspberry macaron for last, as it is my favorite. I picked it up smiling with anticipation of the tasty pleasure I was going to get out of it. I bit into the delicate almond shell and felt my teeth sink through the soft and rich center of the cookie… there was a slight explosion on my tastebuds that went straight to the tips of my toes.  It was close to the best thing I had ever tasted in my life. It was NOT a raspberry macaron. And I knew that this was not a lactose free cookie. But the bite had already been taken… I didn’t want to back down now. I slowly savored the bite with my eyes closed so that I could get as much as I could out of the flavor. There was rose, and berry, and coconut, and pure deliciousness… I almost didn’t let my friend take a small bite just to confirm that it was indeed not a raspberry macaron. I didn’t want to share! Shame on me, but it is so rare that I get the chance to eat something so divinely and intoxicatingly delicious… I did not care that it would give me a stomach ache later, I ate it all. And I ordered more to take away with us (I shared them with others the next day). I learned that this incredible macaron was their new flavor “Rouge Madame”… Flowery and fruity… You. Must. Try. It. For a small sum, you can have the pleasant luxury of enjoying tea and pastries in this opulent décor with good service and plenty of flavor.

When we left the Ladurée restaurant at around 12:30am, we headed down to the avenue Montaigne, it was a crisp and velvet-skyed Paris winter night and we needed  a digestive stroll, so where better to do so than on this luxury fashion house street where you can (window)shop all the best designers… it’s better than looking at any magazine!

The new season’s wear has just been put in the windows since the bi-annual sales have ended, and Spring 2011 is promising a lot of mink, ballerina style (thanks Natalie Portman) garments and plenty of retro glam (thanks Mad Men). I couldn’t be more pleased with the current styles than if I had dreamed them up myself!
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From Chloé, and Céline, to Marni, and Max Mara to Valentino, and Versace… we strolled and talked fashion until we forgot the time and missed the last metro home.