What is there to say about Paris that hasn’t been said already. There must be millions of luxury travel blogs telling you where to go, what to do and, most importantly, where to eat. Although it’s a crowded market, I thought it was time that I throw my chapeau into the ring as well!
Since these are my Best Bits, I’ve decided to let you into the Cypriot’s and my little Parisian secret – Le Loop! Le Loop, as it has always been called, is our way of managing Paris, if we have only one weekend in which to do it.
Most of Paris is closed on a Sunday, except for the shops in Le Marais, so Le Loop is for Saturday or another day in the week except Sunday.
Last time we were in Paris, we stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand near the Opera (in the 9th) with its incredible Ballroom, so we shall start Le Loop from there.
We awoke on a lovely day, in a sweet room on the Club Level that had a balcony overlooking the Mansard rooftops. I am loath to call it a garret because that conjures up visions of La Bohème, but this garret, oh la la, fantastique!
Head down the Boulevard des Capucines toward La Madeleine Church. Paris’s monumental architecture continues to amaze me each and every time I’m there. Still, my eyes are easily diverted by the shops surrounding La Madeleine. Look into the windows of Ladurée where the most beautiful of all macarons are nibbled, chic Eres, tasty Fauchon, and stop and sip a little tea at Mariage Frères. Chanel is there as well and you can find it a little easier to manage than the Rue Gambon store. (If Le Loop brings us there at lunch time, a Baked Potato at Caviar Kaspia is the most luxurious lunch in Paris!)
TURN LEFT AT THE LIGHT
Down the Rue Saint-Honoré from the Rue Royale to Rue des Pyramid. This one street could take a fortnight, but we remember we’re here for only one day, so window shopping it is. Saying that, some stores are a must, no matter what: Iunx, I’ve been wearing Olivia Giacobetti’s scents since she was on Rue de l’Université about 10 years ago when my mother and I fell into her web – unmissable. I don’t go into Place Vendôme yet, but you can. A drink at the Ritz, now that it is open, is always a must – but that’s after Le Loop ends for the day, so refrain until after sundown! Dary’s has the most beautiful antique jewellery, Colette is still fun to pop into, giggle at the lines outside of Goyard, before turning into the Tuileries and crossing the Pont Royal.
Crossing the lovely Pont Royal and developing a ravenous hunger always seems to go hand in hand. Wander down the Quai Voltaire and through the mostly closed-on-a-Saturday antique shops. Decide if you want to eat at Le Voltaire right there on the Quai or Le Bistro de Paris, up the street on Rue de Lille – two wonderfully French classic bistros.
We walk up the Rue de Beaune and then head over to Rue du Bac, hitting Laurence Tavernier, the lushest nightwear there is, Le Prince Jardinier and Deyrolle upstairs – for quirky gardening things and a look at insects for the Cypriot.
We have a chocolate or ice cream at Chabon, then continue past the fabulous windows of La Pâtisserie des Rêves, until we hit the Le Bon Marché, where we always pop in to see the escalators and buy foodstuffs you just can’t find outside of Paris.
Down the Rue de Babylone which melds into the Rue des Sèvres where our next stop is Hermès. For those who forgot, the Cypriot is an architect and we always wonder at the beauty and creativity of the store. You also can get things here that aren’t anywhere else as well!
Turning down the Rue du Vieux Colombier, past Agnès B and Acoté, I head directly to Saint-Sulpice Church. Not the prettiest of churches, nor the most monumental, but I adore its ugliness. A coffee with some Pierre Hermé treats are perfect right now, so sit at the Saint-Sulpice bar and order a noisette. (Sometimes I go off Le Loop to peek into Carven and Cotélac. A bag of Patrick Roger chocolates are a must as well.)
HEADING HOME VIA THE 6TH
Back down Rue Bonaparte toward Saint Germain des Prés, then past the church continuing down Rue Bonaparte and then right on Rue Jacob. Stop into Gab & Jo, a great store carrying only accessories made in Paris. Then down the street we go to take a look at all the Art Galleries from Rue Jacob to Rue de L’Echaudé and Rue de Seine, then Rue des Beaux Arts down to the Quai again.
THE TRUTH BE TOLD
Sometimes it’s too late to go anywhere else and we hop in a taxi to take us back to the hotel to rest before dinner. If we have the stamina, we cross the Pont du Carousel and up past Le Louvre to the Palais Royal, one of my fav spots in all the world.
We walk right through it, with a look or two for a scarf in Épice and gloves in Maison Fabre, then return to the hotel past the Opera, where the Cypriot hums Si Mi Chiamino Mimi, at least for that moment.