I ♥ PARIS – These are a Few of My Favourite Things
Time has rumbled by faster than an empty metro train at 1am. Leaving Paris is going to be like saying goodbye to my sweetheart and I’m not looking forward to it. For my final day I want to make one last visit to the cluster of delicious shops on rue Saint-Honoré. This street provides refuge to the crème de la crème of French fashion and a few of my other favourite things.
First I go to the chocolatier Michel Cluizel for some sustenance. Piles of sugary pearls lie amongst neatly-stacked chocolates of every size and description. It’s hard to fight the urge to take one of everything. Despite their taste, for which the mouth begs for more, the packaging is so sublime that it seems a shame to destroy the perfection of each piece by doing something as banal as eating.
However, after a liberal dose of “tastes”, it’s onwards to La Maison Goyard, a celebrated boutique that sells exquisite packing cases and trunks. I imagine little has changed since it opened its doors in 1853. Nor should it. The shop is hushed and traditionally-wrought like the library in an old family chateau. Embossed leather luggage is sold over mahogany counters and men in fastidiously-pressed suits dart about the shop giving their utmost attention to the patrons. All I can afford to ask for is their card.
Walking into the House of Lanvin the legacy of French fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin, is like stepping into an aviary of exotic birds. Every colour imaginable clings to the racks. Each piece is beautifully crafted and demands to be worn. If means permitted, I would feel no guilt in wearing Lanvin at every occasion. Even a trip to the supermarket would be more exciting and glorious if Lanvin encased my limbs. This shop is the stuff of dreams. Like Paris.
Next, I am back (again) at the inspirational Colette. After weeks of wading through washed cotton and the boho-chic garments that seem to fill every magasin in this town, I am sharply reminded of what is possible. A maze of stairs lead to a fashion heaven where every piece is carefully chosen and curated. Hussein Chalayan, Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent sit alongside casual labels such as Billionaire Boys Club, Rugby by Ralph Lauren and Quiksilver Culture. They are going to need to some burly men indeed to remove me from this place at closing time.
But, of course, there is always the Hotel Costes to provide incentive for the journey. The hotel – a regular fixture in the lives of the riches et fameux – is also home to a restaurant and a perfume shop. I’m enamoured by what’s assaulting my nostrils so I take a visit to the shop.
A sniffing station of epic proportions has been set up for patrons. Folded paper fans out from the top of glass bottles where you must simply just stand and sniff. Sandalwood, rose, cinnamon, vanilla, rum and citrus…what to choose? It’s an amusing exercise talking to the Irishman behind the counter – in French. We struggle through the olfactory language before I settle on a delicate scent called l’Ether.
Unfortunately, the horn blows for this itinerant traveller. After some serious shopping, I lug my engorged suitcase, like a duck fated for foie gras, towards the closest Metro. I’m wondering how I am going to struggle through the maze of tunnels and clamber on and off trains with such a dead weight. I needn’t have worried. A dozen hands reach out to take my suitcase at every ascent and descent. Who needs a porter in this town when there are so many charming men to assist? Ahh, Paris – I will miss you. But I will be back.
Illustrations and title image crafted by Hanna Lee