Springtime in Paris conjures up images of budding flowers, breakfast on the terrace, walks along the Seine and sipping wine in the afternoon. However, on a recent pre-Christmas visit I discovered the city can be just as magical in the winter.
The City of Light definitely lives up to its name, with the Champs-Elysées lit up as far as the eye can see. In true Parisian style the lighting and Christmas decorations were elegant and understated. The Eiffel Tower couldn't fail to impress, with glistening lights outlining its wonderful structure.
With my shopping radar on, I scouted through the markets seeking out bargains. The markets have a variety of gifts, foods, clothing and accessories. My friend and I picked up some cosy hats to keep us warm while we continued on our Velibs (Short for "free bike", see http://www.velib.paris.fr/ for more details). I would recommend hopping on one of these, which are available around the city. It is a great way to sight-see and you can cover a lot of the city.
If, like me, you feel a holiday must include some shopping, then Paris is a golden opportunity. But although mesmerised by the variety of stores available, I decided to do some research into the more alternative designer shopping.
Shopping in Paris
The Mouton A Cinq Pattes in the 6th arrondissement specialises in discounted designer clothes from last season. All the clothes are new but have the labels removed so you can test your designer knowledge and see what you can pick out.
As outlined in its website, the store's name means five-legged sheep, playing on the fact that this is a rare find! If you are looking for the designer gear with the labelling still intact, try the Dépôt-Vente de Passy (14 Rue De La Tour Paris 16ème), just up the road from the designer stores with a much reduced price tag. The products are second-hand but on the website you can see the condition of the product. However, before getting into a shopping frenzy note that although the prices are much cheaper than the original, they are still expensive.
Marc Jacobs shop (19 Place Du Marché Saint Honor)
The great thing about this store is that in addition to the expensive Marc Jacob range there is a 'specials item' Marc by Marc Jacobs collection with much cheaper prices, including patent clutch bags for €44 and wallets for €32.
Another option is to take a trip to go outlet shopping, La Vallee (35 mins from the city centre). Check out the website to see the array of discounted labels available. Kildare village is listed as a sister village. I will definitely be taking a trip out there on my next visit!
Louis Vuitton (101 Avenue des Champs-Elysées)
Here’s a trick on how to jump the long queues for this French fashion establishment, get rooftop views of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy a cultural exhibition at the same time. Take a left at the Louis Vuitton shop and enter the door on the left. You will be greeted and whisked into a life which takes you to the top floor where there’s a cultural exhibition on show. After visiting that, you get back in the lift and are free to visit the shop from there!
With all this shopping planned you will need somewhere to stay. Our taxi driver complimented our choice of Arrondisment and I would agree that it was very central and beautiful with designer stores at our doorstep. However, it’s a little quiet in the evening around where we stayed.
Hôtel Cordelia Opéra-Madeleine (11 Rue Greffulhe, 08 Champs Elysées)
Another option is renting a bijou centrally located apartment for the duration of your stay, see www.rentapart.com
From observation and recommendation Le Marais is a more all rounder place to stay with an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants. They tend to have more quirky and affordable shops. Caron de Beaumarchais is a small boutique hotel in the heart of Marais. Its façade has an appearance of an old world antique shop which adds to its charm. Friends of mine stayed here on their honeymoon and looked forward to the morning feast each day.
When choosing a restaurant I would recommend some research before heading over, as some of the best ones are hidden away off the beaten track. If you would like to treat yourself to a very Parisian style evening, try Laperouse. Founded in 1766 on the banks of the Seine, this restaurant is steeped in history and could tell a tale or two. If you are looking for very romantic evening there is the option to request a private dining room.
For me the trip would not have been complete without going to the Moulin Rouge. I love the movie and was intrigued to see the costumes and dancing in the flesh (pun intended!) The theatre is lovely and with champagne on arrival I was very quickly warming to the place.
The costumes were spectacles in their own right with a mirage of peacock splays throughout the show.
The dancing however was not as impressive as I had hoped and the inclusion of male dancers just seemed a little odd! All in all though it was a very memorable evening. You can book online or alternatively, your hotel to book for you. As with most red light districts the surrounding bars are tacky so after the show I would recommend jumping in a taxi to get back to a better night spot.
Before you go, its worth checking Time Out Paris for a list of shops or to find out what’s happening when you visit. There’s also a list of free things to do in Paris– great if you’re doing Paris “on a budget”.
The original article was published on WhatSheWears.ie . AnnMarie Proudfoot contributes to WhatSheWears.ie, a fashion, latest trends and celebrity style website.