Girls’ Guide To Paris
Where to shop
La Vallee Village
La Vallee Village is a 45 minute train ride out of Paris and is the one of the best designer outlets in the world. There’s Jimmy Choo, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino…all at amazing prices. I picked up a pair of gorgeous Karl Lagerfeld heels for 80 Euros (spotting them in a magazine for 500 Euros!).
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The cult store is worth a pop in as it always has something different going on, from unique exhibits to fashion installations. There’s not much that’s reasonably priced – but I always leave with one of their signature candles (in kooky scents like ‘beach’ and ‘popcorn’) and at 25 Euros they’re the most affordable thing in the shop.
The 6eme arrondissement or St Germain is littered with great shops, cafes and bars. You’ll find Zara, Mango, Gap and other big retailers as well as boutiques such as Princesse Tam Tam (adorable lingerie) and Zadig & Voltaire for preppy-chic knits, day dresses and sweet ballerinas.
Where to eat
L’as du felafel
No trip to Paris is complete without a felafel from this hole in the wall in Le Marais. Join the long line for an overflowing pita packed with crunchy felafel, roasted eggplant and relishes washed down with their homemade lemonade. Cheap and very cheerful.
A quintessential bistro around the corner in Le Marais complete with zinc bar and buzzing waiters, order the city’s best steak frites and a glass of wine and people watch the afternoon away.
If you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower brush off the tourists with lunch in this very Parisian restaurant. Warning, the menu is only in French but the waiters will run you through it all in English. Stunning, classic French fare in a quaint quartier.
Where to drink
Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore
Only in Paris could such infamous landmarks still remain hip almost 50 years after they were put on the map. These two cafes on rue Saint Germain were the hangouts for Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in the 60s and it’s still a fabulous place to order a kir (wine and blackcurrant liquor) but sip it slooowly – it’ll cost you around $15 but that’ll buy you the best seat in the city to people watch.
There are a stack of tiny bars and cafes in Le Marais, so after an afternoon of boutique shopping and gallery hopping make sure you pop in for a refreshing cocktail or Monaco: basically a posh shandy topped with grenadine.
Near the Louvre is the famous Cafe Angelique, known for its authentic hot chocolate. This is the real stuff: thick, almost-custardy chocolate arrives on a platter with warm milk, and you add as much as you like depending how strong you can take it. It’s so pretty inside you may never want to leave.
What to do
You can’t miss the Louvre, but unless you’re desperate to see the Mona Lisa (seriously, just buy a postcard, the queues are unbearable) I recommend choosing an obscure wing of the museum and exploring – you’ll have it pretty much to yourself!
Don’t miss the Musee d’Orsay or Musee Picasso but also get off the beaten art track and check out the heartbreakingly beautiful Musee Camondo and the Musee Rodin.
Ile Saint Louis
This tiny island near the Notre Dame is one of the most romantic places in Paris. But no matter who you’re with grab an icecream from Berthillon (just look for the lines, even in winter) – they’re made on the premises each day (try the pear and dark chocolate and, well, all the flavours). Dangle your feet over the edge of the rocks and watch the boats pass, the buskers hustle and the couples canoodling.
Jardin de Luxembourg
This is one of the prettiest parks in the world and made for picnics (there is a fabulous quiche shop by the St Germain entrance, otherwise you’re never short of bakeries in Paris!).
What are your favourite things to do in Paris?