Out of all the cities I visit during the month of fashion weeks, Paris has to be my favourite. Don't get me wrong, I love NY. I used to live there and still get the same buzz I did then every time I see that skyline. London is home and it's nice to sleep in your own bed at the end of a long day of shows. Milan is all about the delicious food. (Pass the pizza.) But Paris is still the one I get most excited about.
Maybe it's because it's last on the schedule and nearly time to put my high heels away and go back to normal life. Maybe it's because the shows are so much more diverse and interesting to watch - from the spectacle of Chanel through to the modernism of Celine to the etherealness of Chloe. Or perhaps it's simply that the Eurostar makes it so darn easy to get there. But I think it is mainly because it's just such a beautiful city to be in, even when it rains which it pretty much always seems to do at some point while I'm there.
In the few days I have running from show to appointment and back to more shows, I try and find the time to fit on in some of the favourite haunts I have discovered over the years.
So here is my list of the must-stop-pit-stops:
A burger in Café Ruc at least once during the week is an absolute must. I’m not sure what it is they put in it that makes it tastes so good, but for me it is one of the best burgers EVER. Plus it's a great place for people watching, particularly during fashion week.
Touristy I know and always busy with a massive queue, but if you do have time to go, then the hot chocolate is just amazing. Who needs food when you can have this? It's so rich and intense. Just like having about 20 coffees.
This French Brasserie is perfect at any time of day. Try breakfast with a croissant and a café crème while sitting on the terrace watching all the chic passers-by on rue Saint Honoré. And for lunch and dinner the steak tartare is highly recommended. Sofia Coppola loves their burger.
A 10 minute run around this concept store always inspires me in some way. I love seeing how they have displayed all the different collections of the season, mixing different brands together in a way that no other stores do. I'm also very keen on the book section on the ground floor with its great selection of fashion, photography and lifestyle books. I rarely leave without a purchase of some sort.
This shop has EVERYTHING. Give yourself some time to look around. Gorgeous clothes. Stationery you never knew you needed. Beautiful sheets in every possible shade. But the kitchen department in the basement has to be the best part.
I am always on the hunt to find the next purchase for my growing book collection and Librairie Galiganagni (where Karl Lagerfeld buys all his books from) and 7L are my favourite places to browse. However dragging a book-laden suitcase on and off the Eurostar is not fun. Believe me I've done it several times and learnt my lesson. So I have ration myself and maybe add any choices to my Amazon Wish List for another time.
PHARMACIES + SUPERMARKETS
There is something rather special and unique about a French pharmacy. All those amazing French products in super chic packaging. I stock up from massive range of Bioderma while I’m there, but Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentre is also a French pharmacy classic as well as Homeoplasmine ointment. Suki Waterhouse said that she first discovered Serge Lutens makeup in Paris – you can get it in the UK but it's way harder to get hold of.
All Parisians love Monoprix, the supermarket where you can find clothes, food, beauty products and pretty much everything in-between. Chic French mums buy clothes for their children, as it is cheap but are great and there's no in-your-face pink. The underwear and pyjamas But be careful not to be late to whatever you are doing next section is also very good. Look out for their collaborations with cool brands.
It is not easy to find an hour or two of free time during the shows, but if I do, then some sort of photography, fashion or art exhibition is a must. I have even been known to go back for a day trip to catch up on shows I didn’t have time to see. Check out Time Out Guide to Paris before you leave and see what’s on. My favourites are the Musee Arts Decoratifs, the famous Pompidou Centre or the newly reopened fashion museum Palais Galliera. Inspiration from another source of another kind is sometimes needed when all I have been immersed in is fashion.
Jardin de Tuileries
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy running around my local park in the morning, but going for an early preshow run in the Jardin de Tuileries is just that bit more special. The stunning sunrise is very distracting and if, like me, you keep stopping to take lots of photos of it, be careful not to be late to whatever you are doing next. Maybe best to leave your phone behind.
Now you know all my secret (and not-so-secret) places to go.
See you there next week when the fashion train pulls into the Gare du Nord for the next round of shows...