I have been promising my mama a trip to Paris since the last time we hung out together in the city of lights in, erm, 2008. That’s quite a long wait.
Back then it was easy: I would come to Europe from New York for the Milan and Paris shows and, in the weekend between the two when it wasn’t worth flying back home, my mother would hop the Eurostar to join me for a little ooh lala break.
So this year I finally made good on my promise…I had been invited to attend the Laurent-Perrier Prix Grand Siecle dinner honouring Kral Lagerfeld. As it was a dinner, I would need to stay overnight, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity. I bought my mother a a ticket, and off we went.
(At the bottom of this post is a mini guide to all the places that we visited.)
I planned our manoeuvres like a military op: a car would pick up my mother from my sister’s flat up the road, swoop down to Camden to collect me en route, and then drop us at St Pancras, with enough time to spare in the Business Premier lounge for coffee and the papers.
(This is not how I usually travel: I tend to leave the house a scant twenty minutes before departure, whisking through an entirely empty customs and security and onto the train. But this was my mama’s trip, so I planned it all somewhat differently.)
We checked into our hotel, the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg and immediately went down for lunch in its excellent restaurant.
If you ever wondered where I get my passion for food from, I think my mama’s look of anticipation above says it all.
After lunch we walked down to the Place de la Concorde, and then headed up to Boulevard Haussmann for a shufti around Galeries Lafayette, whose glorious architecture never fails to thrill.
We had a desultory wander through the clothes departments but really our kind of shopping took place in the food hall. Have you ever seen so many types of salt?
Purchases made (we were on the hunt for a particular brand of Creme de Cassis and de Mure), we strolled off towards Opera (and a quick detour via Uniqlo to check out the excellent Ines de la Fressange collection, and to buy armfuls of perfect white shirts.) And then, quite astonishingly, managed to bump into the entire European press team for Uniqlo and the lovely girls from Modus Publicity in London. The world is sometimes a very small place indeed.
We sat for a while outside the InterCon, in its venerable 19th century Cafe de la Paix, with its glorious views over the Palais Garnier, drinking tisanes and resting our feet.
Then it was back on the Metro to the hotel, so that I could change for dinner.
I spent the evening at the Laurent-Perrier dinner; my mama did her thing, and we awoke the next day raring for more Paris action. It was a ravishing morning, and I ordered an Uber to take us to the other end of the rue St Honore – my mama has a bad knee, so long walks were out. We stuck to the 1e, and with no ambitious plans, just visited a few of the places we love in Paris.
(Style notes: I’m wearing the long line leather jacket I designed for Karen Millen – similar here, a Salvatore Ferragamo cashmere scarf, Gap Boyfriend jeans, neon pink Nike Lunar Flyknits, and Sunday Somewhere sunglasses.)
As it was a Tuesday, the Louvre was shut, but we delighted in our stroll through its courtyards regardless.
Then we crossed the road to the Palais Royal where, of course, I had to pose in the Cour d’Honneur, sitting on a Colonne de Buren , (one of the stripey columns that form Daniel Buren‘s site-specific art piece Les Deux Plateaux), as I have been doing every year since I was eighteen.
The shops of the Palais Royal are enormously beguiling – as they have been for the past few hundred years. First one comes across Didier Ludot, where, frankly, I could spend hours doing a leche vitrine.
Always the most perfect vintage pieces for sale.
The gardens inside always feel like a secret, especially when one considers that the Louvre and all the tourist bustle of the 1e is a scant five minutes away.
We promenaded around the entire square colonnade, stopping to stare in windows, but being very restrained, until I caught sight of Corto Moltedo’s jewel box of a store. When I mentioned the the charming girl within that I had missed my appointment during the collections, she started whisking out the AW14 pieces for my delectation.
And so we enjoyed a very pleasant half an hour looking at the most beautiful pieces for next season. I have much love in particular for the orange Lady Liberty bag. (Of course!) Although his wall of minaudieres, will always have my heart.
Then we strolled back down the rue St Honore towards the Costes, where we had a girls lunch in quite some style. Swordfish for my mama,
and a casse-oeufs with girolles for me. (Simply a broken egg, with grilled mushrooms.)
One must always admire the roses at the Costes, for they are ravishing.
Then, with a little wave at the Hermes mothership across the road from the hotel
we headed back to London.
Thank you again to my dear friends at Champagne Laurent-Perrier for hosting me in Paris.
The mini guide:
Restaurant Hotel Costes: Busy, noisy, rammed full of poseurs, with waitresses dressed to go clubbing, the food is surprisingly much better than the surroundings – and the clientele – might suggest. It’s technically open air, since diners sit under a canopy, so be prepared for chain smokers. Properly marvellous people watching, breath-takingly expensive. 239-241 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001
Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg: Beautiful hotel, wonderful location, amazing bed, room strongly redolent of cigars, properly dopey service everywhere bar the front desk. Breakfast service is a shocker. 15 Rue Boissy d’Anglas,75008
Galeries Lafayette: the glorious cupola is in the main building, the Food Hall on the second floor of the left hand building, which houses the mens department. 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
Cafe de la Paix: One of the iconic Parisian cafes, it’s a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go buy (and infinitely preferable to doing so on the Champs Elysees). Be prepared to grin and bear it as you pay 15Euros for two cups of tea. Located on the northwest corner of the intersection of the Boulevard des Capucines with the Place de l’Opéra, it’s a hop and a skip from Galeries Lafayette, and a ten minute walk up Avenue de l’Opéra from the Louvre.
Palais Royal: 8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 (although there are multiple entrances).
Didier Ludot: Possibly the best vintage fashion store in the world (actually three are three here) – more Dior than ripped Levi’s…Looks a little intimidating, but the staff are heavenly. VERY un-Paris of them. Look out for the shopfront that only sells little black dresses. Jardin du Palais Royal, 24 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001
Corto Moltedo: On the same side of the Palais Royal as Stella McCartney and Marc, this double storefront sells the most covetable handbags. Perfect if you prefer beautifully made bags to tell the story, not their logo. Jardins Du Palais Royal, Colonnes 146-148, Galerie De Valois, 75001