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Shopping in Paris: An al fresco retail Eden

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Unlike other cities where you have to go to specific hotspots, hunt down obscure streets and keep up with roving bazaars just to get some decent shopping done, Paris is the place where all things we’re interested in – fashion and jewellery – is a just a stone’s throw away.

Of course there are areas that specialise on either of the two, like the Rue Saint Honoré for high fashion and the Place Vendôme for haute joaillerie, you can pretty much fund something you’d like to take home with you anywhere you go in Paris. If people call Rome an open-air museum because it offers an exceptionally rich, cultural experience without requiring tourists to enter one, we call Paris an al fresco shopping Eden.

Cartier on Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré

But if you really want to bask in the glow of luxury, there’s no denying you can get all that from those two places. You can even extend your shopping stride to the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, where even more coveted brands such as Hermes have their flagship boutiques. Meanwhile, the range of choice for ultra-luxury jewellery and watch brands at the Vendôme is enough to make your head spin.

Chanel headquarters at Place Vendôme

For those looking to get their shopping done in one place, high-end department store style, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, both on Boulevard Haussmann, seem like competent options. Not really our cup of tea since we have to endure mall shopping out here in Dubai, but some people prefer indoor to street shopping.

Printemps sits right next to the Opera

Of course, you haven’t really gone to Paris if you haven’t tasted French macarons from Ladurée. The confectionery brand has a number of shops across Paris, one on the Haussmann for when you finish your shopping at Printemps, and another one on Rue Royale, just a few minutes’ walk from the Hotel de Crillon where we stayed. Prepare for the crowd at the entrance, though, as French people really wait in line to get their sugar fix from Ladurée.

Do we hear someone saying something about the Champs-Elysées? Well, once upon a time, it was the bastion of fashion and class in the French capital, but over the last decade it has lost its touch and turned into a mediocre strip not too different from The Walk at JBR. These days, it’s where tourists flock to get their Marni for H&M overruns and Starbucks frappucinos.

Keep your visit to this place brief – take a moment to absorb the magnificence of the Arc de Triomphe, head over to Guerlain Parfumerie for a bottle of Angélique Noire, shoot a dirty look at all the people lining up outside Abercrombie & Fitch, and move back on to civilization.

Where to stay in Paris

The Hôtel Ritz, the first of the many hotels worldwide ever to bear the iconic name, offers an exclusive ambience that is fit for the likes of Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. Royals, presidents and celebrities retreat to the Ritz as their second home in the capital for its global status as the arbiter of French luxury. See our full feature on the hotel here.

The Hôtel de Crillon‘s roots can be traced to the time of Louis XV, who commission the palatial building that is the hotel today. Serving the elite jetset with utmost luxury, superb service and a magnificently designed environment. Walking the marbled halls of the Crillon guarantees guests an embrace of history that cannot be found elsewhere in Paris, or the world. See our full feature on the hotel here.

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