The city of love, or shall we say Louvre, kicks off its busiest week of the year on Feb. 27, with a star-studded lineup of highly acclaimed designers — all ready to flaunt their latest collections for Paris Fashion Week. While the sartorially inclined flock to this city every year for the occasion, the impressive array of galleries, museums, and one-of-a-kind artworks serve as an endless source of inspiration (not to mention the perfect Paris travel guide for the fashion-forward) regardless of whether you have an invitation to an exclusive runway show or not. There’s a certain undeniable je ne sais quoi in the atmosphere during this fashion-filled week and the cobblestone-paved streets make for an exceptional impromptu runway for eager onlookers who fancy people-watching as more of a sport than hobby.
Often referred to as wearable art, there’s no shortage of creativity as many top and emerging designers are set to make their debut this season in the fashion capital of the world. From Victoria Beckham and Loewe to Issey Miyake and Isabel Marant, the creme de la creme will surely be there this week. To walk us through the first-hand accounts happening on and off the runway, our veteran fashion week attendees gave us the inside scoop of the best spots around town for sharing a bottle of natural wine, taking in the must-see sights, and, of course, shopping.
Where To Stay
If you’re looking for that swoon-worthy hotel balcony pic with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, look no further than the Four Seasons George V Paris. With an entire suite dedicated to the Eiffel Tower view, “It’s like magic,” explains influencer, founder of Lumiere de Vie and jewelry brand Layered Amber Ridinger Mclaughlin.
Speaking of scenery, facing the Pony-Neuf, the Cheval Blanc Paris offers stunning views of la Seine, just steps away from the Notre Dame Cathedral, in a contemporary setting. In addition to the four fantastic restaurants, the hotel lays claim to the city's only Dior Spa. While the Cheval Blanc is best known for its clean lines and modern decor, the former Louvre Post Office turned swanky hotel, Madame Rêve, exudes moody yet modern elegance with bespoke golden yellow fabrics accented by warm-wooded interiors. Thanks to its centrally located position, the hotel is in no short supply of stunning panorama views of the Parisian cityscape. From sunrise to sunset, you’ll never grow weary of watching the way the city comes alive at dusk and dawn.
Where To Shop
Often referred to as the fashion capital of the world, Paris is home to iconic designers such as Chanel, Dior, and Jacquemus. These are designers you’ll undoubtedly find on a stroll through Avenue Montaigne, which connects the infamous Champs-Elysées to the Alma Bridge. “It’s the best street to shop and people-watch from a chic cafe,” says Mclaughlin.
While designer brands are in no short supply, the city is also bustling with an impressive selection of vintage shops and antique markets. The Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, for example, is the largest antique market in the world as well as the fourth most visited attraction in France. Located on the northern edge of Paris, this sprawling market boasts some of the best second-hand finds for home decor, vintage fashion, and flashy trinkets.
And then, there’s hidden Parisian gem Mad Lords boutique, where you can find a unique curation of top global jewelry brands like Jacquie Aiche, Anita Ko, Maria Tash, as well as the store’s private line, Mad Precious and Ethical.
And for those in the market for fun and unique home items, Merci is a favorite of fashion editors, offering an expansive mix of linens, tableware, and accent items for your living space.
Last but not least, no visit to Paris would be complete without stocking up on your favorite French beauty staples at City Pharma. From Klorane to Embryolisse to La Roche-Posay, discover a new French skin care brand or snag your faves at better prices. The atmosphere at City Pharma may not be as over-the-top in grandeur as the rest of Paris, however, much like French skin care, the pharmacy is simple, clean, and to the point. A sentiment that emulates French aesthetics to its very core.
Perhaps one of the most interesting facets of visiting Paris isn’t just the city's overall appreciation of fine art, but its dedication to celebrating fashion as the true art form that it is. More than just wearable art, museums and galleries have been springing up around the city dedicated to the movers and shakers of the industry who, rightfully so, deserve not only the title of “best in show” but an appropriated space showcasing that talent. La Galerie Dior, for example, is regarded by tourists and Parisians alike as a must-see cultural attraction celebrating Monsieur Christian Dior, whose legendary creations have graced the streets of Paris since 1946. While you’re at it, swing by the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris for the Gold By Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, celebrating the emblematic shade that is engrained in the label’s design code. “The Foundation Louis Vuitton, located in this stunning building designed by architect Frank Ghery in the Bois de Boulogne, also has fun expos,” adds Caroline Muller, native Parisian and co-owner of Mad Lords, who claims this famous French designer’s foundation is a must-visit for modern and contemporary art.
Speaking of art, be sure to swing by the Louvre Museum (the largest museum in the world located within a 16th-century palace), and visit the 'The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases: at the Crossroads of the Caravan Routes' exhibition, running until March 6. According to a review by Euro News, the limited-time event “allows visitors to experience the glorious era when caravans roamed Central Asia, a journey that spans over 1,900 years.” Art lovers will also want to pay a visit to the Frida Kahlo, Beyond Appearances exhibit at the Palais Galliera, where some 200 objects are displayed from the artist’s childhood home, Casa Azul. Amongst the recovered items are garments, cosmetics, letters, and even medicines.
Eileen Rhein, a NYC-based influencer and attorney, says, “My all-time favorite museum is the Musée d’Orsay — which houses the largest collection of impressionist works in a historic train station.” Its current exhibitions include Maurice Denis’ Les Amours de Marthe collection, running through May 14, Backstage at Jacques de Lalaing’s Studio, a compilation of photography of the Belgian painter and sculptor, running through March 5.
To finish the day, Rhein says “I never leave Paris without a sunset cruise on the Seine by Bateaux Mouche. There’s no better way to see the City of Light than by boat at night,” explains Rhein.
Where To Eat
Strategically located on famed Avenue Montaigne, and a short walk from the Grand Palais (home to many Paris Fashion Week shows), “L'Avenue is the place to see and be seen,” says Mclaughlin. While the restaurant serves a classic sampling of French cuisine, Parisians and fashionistas alike flock here for the gossip and the occasional celebrity sighting. While we’re on the subject of great locations, situated across from the Eiffel Tower, Girafe is famous for its spectacular terrace views under the iconic landmark accompanied by Mediterranean-inspired meals, an alluring marble clad bar, and elegant Parisian decor.
When you’re craving something healthy, the vegetarian restaurant, Tekes on Rue Saint-Sauveur is a great option. “Owned by Israeli chef Assaf Granit, who also owns Balagan, Tekes, is just a few steps away from our boutique, is unmatchable in terms of atmosphere,” explains Muller. If you’re still craving veggies, Paris’ pioneering hipster (aka sustainable) bistro Septime is dedicated to serving seasonal French food with a reasonably priced ( €60 for five courses and €95 for seven courses) tasting menu. Since it recently landed the number 22 spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, reservations can be hard to come by, so be sure to book in advance.
Where To Drink
Like every other major city in the world, the most recent trend sweeping the streets of Paris is the natural wine craze. As a vino enthusiast herself, Dua Lipa announced on Service95, her weekly newsletter series, that she never visits Paris without hitting up her favorite ice cream joint — that also subsequently serves wine — called Folderol. For a more savory option, you’ll find the Insta-cool crowd at the tapas bar Bambino, which has cultivated a reputation for being a fun place to grab a record from behind the bar, listen to great music, and sip on a glass of natural vino or two.
For delicious cocktails, “I head to UC-61 for the speakeasy vibes,” says Rhein. Of course, if you’re looking for a more traditional Parisian experience, Le Crazy Horse de Paris is one of the few avant-garde burlesque cabarets that entertain beyond the quintessential Cancan. After a glass or two of champagne and an exciting live performance, you’re ready to paint the town red at any one of the eccentric high-energy clubs of Paris.
For rooftop vibes, try the Rooftop at the Hotel Dame des Arts where you can enjoy a crisp glass of Champagne with a great view to boot. If you like to circulate and want options, swing by Doublevie Paris, which features a lively bar one floor and an upscale Mediterranean restaurant on another. And if you love authentic Art Deco aesthetic, Le Relais Plaza is the place to be. A Parisian institution since 1936, the fine-dining restaurant will place you in the lap of luxury.
Where To Grab Coffee In Between Shows
No trip to Paris would be complete without an afternoon spent sipping on a cappuccino seated on the sidewalks of this bustling city. The picturesque establishment on the corner of Boulevard Saint Germain, called Café de Flore, is perfect for spotting the latest street-style fashions and catching up with a friend between shows over a light lunch. For ultimate opulence, you’ll want to snag a coffee and a pic at Monsieur Dior on 32 Avenue Montaigne. Mclaughlin recommends, “Get there at 10 a.m. when the restaurant opens as lines tend to get long as the day progresses.”
While sneaking in meals and a quick cup of coffee can prove to be quite the challenge during this busy week, “If I do have time to eat, I make sure to pop into Daroco 16 for some of the best pizza and coffee outside of Italy or I head to Ladurée in their Bonaparte location for afternoon tea, macaroons, and pastries,” says Rhein.
Where To Pamper Yourself
“While I typically get my manicure while I’m at home in NYC, if I need a nail touch-up, I pick up some of my favorite French nail polish, Manucurist Paris, at their shop at 19 Rue d’Enghien,” explains Rhein. For a quick paint job, the locals hit up The Nail Kitchen, located on the beauty floor of BHV’s Marais outpost, for their non-toxic polish shades and speedy service.
And for those who need a little beauty pick-me-up in between shows, be sure to swing by the Balmain Hair Salon at the InterContinental Paris LeGrand. From cut and color services to blowouts and expert styling, your hair will get the royal treatment and have you ready for any and all fashion events.
To take it a step further, “I would recommend the Ban Sabai Royal Spa for a relaxing massage,” says Muller, ideal for melting the post-show stress away. When your skin needs a bit of extra pampering, head over to Biologique Recherche Ambassade de la Beauté for the famous red carpet facial that’s been adorned by models and celebrities alike since its opening back in 1992. Trust us, after 120 minutes in the hands of a French esthetician, your skin (and your sanity) will thank you.
And for a full-service A-list beauty treatment, the team at Carita Paris will pamper you from head to toe. And, in addition to have all your beauty needs met, the salon also happens to be hosting a special installation dedicated to Lanvin through March 24. The exhibit honors an iconic piece of Lanvin’s couture: the Charmeuse dress. “First introduced in 2008, this remarkable garment has today taken on a new look, inspired by the new codes of Lanvin – modern and elegant,” reads the official press release.
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