And then it does.
Of course, I'm referring to the city that never fails to surprise,
the place novelist Henry James described as
"the greatest temple ever built to material joys and the lust of the eyes."
Our beautiful Paris.
And yes, history and heritage aside, Paris is a commercial center,
long considered one of the world's top drawer shopping capitals.
You can be sure, the city's tornadic retail energy
is an unstoppable phenomenon, one of the many reasons
there's no such thing as too much Paris.
"He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized in vertigo.
Noting is more fantastic.
Nothing is more tragic.
Nothing is more sublime."
time we cross the threshold of Paris.
Most of us have an emotional relationship with the city itself.
Its rich tapestry of art, architecture and history
help enrich our everyday, more mundane existence.
Amazingly, all it takes to bump into these gale force winds is a gentle little
wander through the streets and neighborhoods that frame every day Paris.
This is no quick infatuation.
At the mere thought of Paris, I've indulged in a lifelong joyride,
always thirsting for more.
And Paris delivers -- well placed fireworks each time I turn a corner.
Paris is not always cheerful yet always manages to
trigger a spark of life in anyone with a beating heart.
Even on a day with threatening skies and harsh winds, at some point you'll
stop to marvel at the sky -- or the river -- or the sweet granny counting out
her change for the little yellow apples at the local Monoprix.
Whether you're a foodie, a glutton or a fussy eater, Paris has something for you. Regardless if you're a follower of art nouveau or a fan
of futuristic design, Paris will steam up your glasses.
Should you prefer sophisticated guided tours or careless and casual wanders,
Paris will set your heart on fire.
Yes, Paris is a banquet of choices from food experiences and wine tastings to local festivals, charming gardens, world-class museums and glorious galleries.
"I like my money right where I can see it.... hanging in my closet."
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex & the City
the wind blowing through the trees.
You won't need to think long and hard about where to go.
Opportunity strikes in every neighborhood.
Take the classic food emporium Fauchon.
Parisians don't do anything on a small scale.
Spectacular displays of edibles line up, voluptuous and
inescapable to anyone with big eyes and a remote sense of taste.
Food fanatics swoon over exotic gift baskets that look too beautiful to open.
Just across the square -- Place de la Madeleine to be exact -- is another
palace filled with luxury goods, offering no less than an historical pedigree.
Hédiard, once the stomping grounds of celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin
and Marlene Dietrich, began as a push cart back in 1850.
Ferdinand Hédiard opened his premiere store on Place de la Madeleine
in 1870 where, in short order, it grew in fame and fortune.
These days, even non-celebrities can search for the finest coffee beans and
exotic vinegars in the same shop that Colette once perused -- a Paris classic.
And the choices -- Whoo hoo!
Shoes, jewelry, vintage fashion, antiques and so much more,
you'll never fail to find just the right gift for yourself or a loved one.
Exhausted after a few hours of flashing your overworked credit card?
Head for Lavinia, the virtual wine heaven located just
down the street from Fauchon and Hèdiard.
The hard part is choosing from thousands of bottles from nearly every
corner of the world -- who knew you could buy wine from India and Japan? -- with
a wide choice of harvests -- from the most exclusive French brands
to the new and trendy organics.
After a long day of shopping, Lavinia may be the best last purchase
of the day EVER, a reason to return to your Paris hideaway
for a chance to relax & rejoice.
you wear everyday like a family heirloom.
It exceeds expectations even if you've been there twenty plus times.
Window shopping -- "faire du lèche-vitrine" -- literally meaning
"to lick the windows" -- is practically an Olympic sport in Paris.
And who can blame us?
The storefront displays are practically works of art.
Truly, I'm not your standard shopping enthusiast -- preferring to save
my euros for lunch -- but I do love to window shop in Paris.
Except when we're talking about one thing.
When it comes to food, I scrutinize shop windows and restaurant
menus as if I'm studying for the bar exam.
And then of course, I'm ready to make that cash register ring.
Of course, often my eyes are bigger than my wallet and my stomach
is bigger than all three so frequently I'll walk in for one thing
and walk out with far too much of a good thing.
"The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out
with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one."
No doubt, she said this after a "quick" trip to Gerard Mulot....
you'll find exactly what you're looking for on the streets of Paris.
The diversity of neighborhoods is staggering.
Paris breaks the speed limit for variety and contrast,
perfect for a made-to-order shopping engagement.
Fancy some colorful tribal fabric or exotic African snacks?
Head over to the Goutte d'Or neighborhood near Montmartre.
Often called "Little Africa", a stop here qualifies as a
surefire u-turn off the beaten path.
Looking for the perfect coffee table book for your favorite artist in residence?
Head straight for a museum store such as the Musée d'Orsay,
chock full of artsy page-turners and artist bios.
Dreaming of a made-in-France copper pot to cook your oatmeal?
E. Dehillerin is a dream-come-true where you're sure to
discover your inner Julia Child.
It's been around for nearly 200 years!
Retail therapy can be edgy -- check out the cool t-shirt boutiques in the Marais; raunchy -- pull your hat down low and peruse the sexshops of Pigalle; or
downright civilized -- shop alongside Oprah and Gwyneth
on avenue Montaigne and rue du Faubourg St. Honoré,
haute-couture mecca of the fashion world.
Not a boring box store in sight!
aux puces -- or heaven help us, the glorious department stores -- les grands magasins -- Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, BHV....
And do yourself a favor, give the good ol' Monoprix a whirl; often compared
to Target in the USA -- but so much more f-r-e-n-c-h and fabulous....
This begs the question,
HOW CAN WE FIT IT ALL IN??
Instead of planning one momentous shopping day, I sneak it into
my schedule in-between all the other activity.
A museum and a street market make for the perfect morning.
A walk in the park and a bit of window shopping easily go hand-in-hand.
And the best thing about diving into smaller bites of retail therapy is that
as you uncover a new area rich in commercial enterprise, you can bet
your bottom dollar you'll also swim in a great choice of good eats.
Personally, I'd choose a good cheese shop over a fashion house; besides,
if you taste the good stuff, you'll feel as if you can get by
wearing only the smile on your face....
I've barely touched on the countless opportunities
to feel like a high roller in Paris.
Sometimes we just need to fill that need to spoil ourselves.
Don't worry, you won't need to hock your Harry Winston jewels to enjoy
Paris with its countless opportunities to window shop or just poke around.
And you certainly won't need to spend the day teetering on
Christian Louboutins to fit the part .... but do remember this:
As you weave your way through the perfect Paris shopping experience,
"One shoe can change your life."