Another perk of working in the travel industry: having coworkers with good connections. During my first week in the Paris office, one of my coworkers offered to set me up on the Paris Shopping Tour, which is run by her cousin, Diane. Diane was trying out a new route for the tour and needed a test audience. I specifically Googled how to say “Yes obviously is this even a question?” in French so that I could answer properly.
I met up with Diane at the stylish Etienne Marcel cafe, which is a very hip cafe apparently frequented by celebs. It’s located on a very busy street in an excellent shopping district, and most of the shops we visited were within a few blocks. The most famous streets are Rue Etienne Marcel and Rue Montorgueil — the latter is crazy busy, with little bakeries and boutiques and sidewalk cafes and a ton of pedestrian traffic. The surrounding blocks are a bit quieter and you can find a ton of designer & high-end stores.
For some reason, when I’d first heard about the tour, I’d imagined only clothing shops. But we saw a little bit of everything: shops selling jewelry, vintage, perfumes, candles, shoes, furniture, decor, everything.
We visited about 15 shops in total – here are my 5 favorites, in no particular order:
Espace Kiliwatch: This store is apparently very popular and well-known in Paris. The front of the store features new clothing and accessories for both men and women. And then as you head toward the back, my favorite part: vintage! I didn’t buy anything on this particular day, but I went back a week later and got a cute skirt that I can hopefully wear in the next week or two, if Spring ever decides to visit Paris.
Les Bougies de Charroux: Candles. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love affair with candles. This shop actually has a few branches throughout France, and the candles are all natural and very very affordable, and plus they come in really cute jam-like jars. I got one during the tour, then went back and bought two more later on. Will prob be bringing a bunch of these back home with me in my suitcase. (also: “bougies” is the French word for “candles” and I think it’s the most adorable French word I’ve learned so far)
Paulie & Me: This store is run by a lovely couple: a New Yorker and a Parisian. The New Yorker is Paulie — he and I chatted each other’s ears off about life in New York versus life in Paris (we are both Team Paris). The store features independent French designers and is mostly clothing and jewelry, and all of the displays in the store (the shelving and display containers and everything) are all recycled or repurposed. The price tags are also repurposed (used metro tickets), and if you bring in 10 tickets for them to use, you’ll get a 10% discount on your purchase. This is another store I’ve gone back to since the tour, and I bought a very cute and Parisian-looking t-shirt, because ever since moving to Paris I’ve been trying to up my French wardrobe game.
Nose: Perfumes, candles, heaven for your nose, basically. You can actually mix your own perfume here (but you have to make an appointment).
Mystery store: OK so I actually don’t know the name of this store, and honestly I think that’s kind of the appeal. It doesn’t even really have a store front — Diane took us up to a gate on an otherwise quiet street, she rang a buzzer and announced our arrival, the gate swung open, we walked down a long dark entryway…and then all of a sudden we were in this gorgeous store where everything was clearly très chère (chic/French way of saying very expensive). Like, it was one of those stores where they offer you champagne as you shop. It was amazing. Everything was dark and luxurious and there was wood and metal everywhere. It had decor and clothing and shoes, and there was a back room that could be rented out for events. It’s one of those places where you have to know someone to get in, so anyone interested in this tour should definitely ask Diane about it. (also I was too afraid to take photos here)
There are a few different routes for the tour, depending on what you want to shop for and what kind of stores you like (she has one in Montmartre that’s more vintage and boho-esque, which I would love to try). After the tour I sat with Diane and two of her friends in a nearby bar for some delicious cocktails, and they were so sweet and funny and it was so nice to meet some new people during my first official weekend in this new city.
Merci Diane & your lovely friends for showing me around and putting up with my jetlagged French!