Last weekend, I decided to take an impromptu trip to Paris with a dear university friend for some soul-restoration (her) and a fun adventure (me). I still find it an enormous thrill to be able to hop on a train and arrive in France a mere two hours later (the first time I went to Paris back in 2003, it took me 33 hours to get there from Australia!); I got on a train shortly after breakfast and was at Gare du Nord in enough time to be able to stop by my hotel, cross the river and arrive at Boulevard Saint Germain by lunchtime.
There, I was meeting a fashion friend of mine for an afternoon of Parisian wanderings. Our first stop was to the tiny tables of the Cafe de Flore (that great bastion of French literary history) for the finest Parisian people-watching cafe au lait strong enough to fuel us for the rest of the afternoon. Afterwards, we strolled the charming little streets of the Left Bank, passing tiny galleries and even tinier boutiques. After a quick lap of the accessories and beauty hall at Le Bon Marche, it was on to Rue Guisarde for some vintage Chanel and Hermes treasure hunting (more on that later).
We stopped by the Hermes store (17 rue de Sevrès), worth a visit for the magnificent interior alone – the building used to house a swimming pool, and now has a charming florist at the front of the store (I love that if nothing else, you can at least buy some peonies at Hermes!). Afterwards, it was on to Shakespeare & Co (37 Rue Bûcherie), which has to be my favourite bookstore in the world. I stumbled upon it randomly on my first trip to Paris and always make a point of returning each time I’m in there; it always seems to be the most perfect Parisian moment, with the sun glinting of the Seine beside it, French musicians providing the sountrack out the front, poets loitering at the little tables, and various Americans-in-Paris and French literary types alike rummaging amongst the crammed shelves inside (a mix of second-hand and new volumes).
Once I’d had my literary fill, we strolled along beside the Seine, pottering about the really rather wonderful vintage bookshops (I love that these still remain here) that link the banks along the way for souvenirs of Paris. I picked up nostalgic French children’s books and vintage fashion magazines from the 40s, antique postcards, and the obligatory mini Eiffel Towers. We passed the lover’s locks on the bridge, and made for that petite charming island in the middle of the Seine, the Île Saint-Louis. Past tiny cafes, fromageries and antique shops we walked, and a quick stop at Berthillion (29-31 rue saint louis en l’ile) for the best ice cream in all of Paris (I had pear and apricot, both of which tasted as though they had been picked straight from a sun-drenched orchard in the south of France). As we crossed the bridge to the right bank, a French swing band played at the sun turned to molten gold low in the sky. It was such a perfect Parisian moment, we lingered on that bridge for so long, smiling to the sounds of the jazz music floating on the breeze.
Have you been to Paris? What are some of your favourite areas to visit in the city (or those you’d most like to go to)?
Love, Miss B xx