I like to say that a day in Paris holds many lifetimes. That's how it feels to me anyway-- so much can happen in a day!
My street wakes up early around 7:30AM with restaurant deliveries at Le Cherche Midi and Atelier Vivanda (two great bistros to note). A bit later, apartment windows open, horns begin honking, and dogs begin their morning strolls off-leash -- yes, they know what they are doing and where they are going just perfectly! Beautifully dressed Parisians whizz by on their bikes (Vélib is the great bike-sharing system here) on their way to work avoiding all the traffic snarls. Cigarettes begin to light up (one of my least favorite things...), the sun begins to touch the tops of the buildings, and I finish my coffee and leave my kitchen window perch to start my day.
My spring sejour is coming to a close but before it does, I want to share my idea of the perfect Left Bank shopping day in the neighboorhood! Ready?
I walk down the street to Poilâne -- one of the most famous Parisian bakeries, to buy my croissant and return home to have it with my coffee and watch the City wake up. If you are up early, I recommend having a café au lait and Poilâne toast at the charming Cuisine de Bar next door to the bakery-- they open at 8:30AM. Take your time, no need to rush as most of the boutiques in the area don't open until 10:30-11:00. I like to take a brisk morning walk up to the Seine River and back to breathe the fresh air and gear up for the day. The view across the River is always breathtaking!
Shopping in this 6th arrondissement is heavenly! Just at the corner of the rue du Cherche-Midi is the intersection called the Croix Rouge. You'll know it by the huge Centaur sculpture in the middle of it ( Centaure de Cesar). From this intersection, any of the little streets you decide to go down will take you to some of the best boutique shopping on the Left Bank. There are the obvious favorites like Céline, Christian Louboutin, Maison Margiela, Inès de la Fressange and Prada and that's just on the rue du Grenelle alone!
I like to go a bit off the radar with a stop at one of the most gorgeous leather goods shops around, Peggy Kingg. She was the art director for Madame Grés as well as Balmain, Céline and Cartier and has now opened her own atelier/shop on the Left Bank. If you must have a more well-known brand of leather goods, Hermes Left Bank store is just around the corner on the rue des Sevres. Even if you aren't in the market for a Birkin, just a look inside at the architecture of what used to be a public swimming pool is worth it. Afternoon tea in Le Plongeoir upstairs is worth every penny you spend on tea and cake! For shoes, I love Laure Bassal. These are classic hand-made shoes that can be made-to-order in a full color range. My personal favorite is called Dijon-- it reminds me of my dance days....
For their beautiful white porcelain dishes, paper goods and perfume, Astier de Villatte just opened on the Left Bank. I always bring home table candles in the many luscious colors offered by Cire Trudon, and for the perfect gift, I go to Buly 1803 for their many potions, creams, soaps and fragrant matches. Love the fragrant matches! For beautiful silk and cotton caftans, Liwan has long been a favorite. She also carries beaded coin purses and unusual costume earrings. For antiques and home treasures, try Yveline Antiques and Galerie Salon. For cult beauty products, I go to CityPharma on the rue du Four. It's always crowded, but the pharmacy staff is so knowledgable and quite organized in their own French kind of way. I just stocked up on my two favorites: La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 and Redermic R Corrective.
And then there is jewelry....!!!! For vintage costume jewelry, I go to L'ibis Rouge-- Vivianne's knowledge of the history of costume jewelry is remarkable and her shop is full of treasures. If you are looking for a particular piece or designer, be sure to ask. She has a basement archive that has been stocked and added to for 35 years! For antique fine jewelry, my absolute favorite is Curiosités on the rue des Grands Augustines. Monsieur Brisbois has a remarkable collection of bijoux and the prices are reasonable. He is only open in the afternoons so plan for a later visit in the day.
Ready for lunch? Try Brasserie Lipp-- an institution in Paris for 135 years! Another classic is Josephine Chez Dumont.
Restaurant Christine is pure charm and great food. It's on a very small and quiet street if that is your mood! It's best to make a reservation for any of these restaurants. There are so many cafés and bistros in Paris. If you want to be spontaneous, dine early (before 12:30) or later(after 2:00PM) and you shouldn't have trouble being seated. Bon Appétit!
At the end of the day, go to Jade d'Orient for the best accupressure foot massage you can imagine. You'll deserve it after all that hard work called shopping!
Paris is a place where we can leave behind who we think we are and reinvent ourselves. It's a City of art, beauty, fashion, and love. As John Berger put it, "Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman."
I'll sign off by chiming in with Gertrude Stein to say that "America is my country and Paris is my hometown." À bientôt!
Poilâne: 8 rue du Cherche-Midi
Cuisine de Bar: 8 rue du Cherche-Midi
Peggy Kingg: 9 rue Cöetlogon
Hermes: 17 rue de Sevres
Laure Bassal: 3 rue de Grenelle
Astier de Villatte: 16 ru de Tournon
Cire Trudon: 78 rue de Seine
Buly 1803: 6 rue Bonaparte
Liwan: 8 rue Saint-Sulpice
Yveline Antiques: 4 rue de Furstemburg
Galerie Salon: 4 rue de Bourbon le Château
CityPharma: 26 rue du Four
L'ibis Rouge: 35 Boulevard Raspail
Curiosités: 26-28 rue des Grands Augustines
Brasserie Lipp: 151 Boulevard Saint Germain
Josephine Chez Dumonet: 117 rue du Cherche-Midi
Restaurant Christine: 1 rue Christine
Jade d' Orient: 11 rue Monsieur le Prince