Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mum's the word... vintage Paris on the cheap

A trip to Paris with your mother may not be the most romantic option for a weekend break. However, if you’ve a penchant for designer vintage fashion, you’ll find plenty of things for both of you to fall in love with in this city of couture and quality craftsmanship.

Paris is the world renowned centre for luxury lifestyle products – though, these days, brands like Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton are more likely to be associated with the celebrities who promote them than the city from which they originated. If you're not quite rich or famous enough to be invited to the couture shows, a well planned visit to Paris still offers the chance to see traditionally made, stylish French fashion - simply by exploring some of the quirky vintage stores dotted across town.

A ‘luxury’ shopping trip to Paris doesn't require a second mortgage either - it's quite possible to tour vintage Paris on the cheap:

There are many inexpensive travel options. If you book far enough in advance, standard Eurostar tickets (from London) are available for as little as £29 each way. Once in Paris, the best way of seeing the city is most definitely on foot. When your legs get tired, or if you need a faster way of getting around, just grab an eco-friendly bike at one of the generously stocked bicycle stations, conveniently located across the city centre.

Save your pennies in Paris by finding a reasonably priced hotel. Browse the internet for sites offering special rates for hotel rooms. The Hotel Louvre Bons Enfants, for instance, is just a stone’s throw from the Hotel de Louvre, with rooms available at a fraction of the price. There are even interesting views from the windows – including curious sculpture and architecture… Plus, there’s free Wi-Fi and affordable champagne in the mini-bar.

To the occasional visitor, eating out in style can present a challenge - but, rather than trying to avoid the tourist traps, why not use them to your advantage? Ask the hotel front desk to suggest a restaurant nearby. If you’re in the centre of town, the restaurants are bound to be foreigner friendly, even in Paris. You’ll most likely find yourself in the company of fellow tourists, which should make for an amusing evening, especially if you’re alone - or with your mother.

Le Petit Machon, recommended by the Louvre Bons Enfants, has a great atmosphere and the traditional Lyonnais food, though rather bland tasting, is reasonably good value.

Alternatively, if Mummy's paying, mix with the locals at chi-chi restaurants like L’Avenue in Avenue Montaigne, where by midday, the black dresses, fur coats, models and media crowd are already queuing up to secure their table for lunch.

The food is well presented and actually rather delicious, even if it’s served up barely cooked, three minutes after you sat down. But what you’re paying for is the view; just remember to ask for a table near the window, where you can sit and watch le tout Paris mincing past – and get an eye full of the Eiffel Tower at the same time.

Shopping is taken very seriously in Paris – and the city is bursting with smart boutiques. Rather than fighting over flea-bitten bargains in vintage markets, why not shop in classic Parisian style? Look no further than Didier Ludot’s fabulous emporium in the Palais Royal.

The only problem with this establishment is that, in all the times I’ve been to Paris, I’ve never once found it to be open.

Never mind, however curious the opening hours, there’s absolutely no need to go inside, as this is probably the best place in the world to window shop for high quality designer vintage collectors’ items.

Take a look at some of photographs here of pieces exhibited in the window during Paris Fashion Week – including couture Chanel and 1960s Paco Rabanne chain mail. Some of the other shops in the Palais Royal are also worth exploring, although the prices can be somewhat off-putting (unless one wanders a few doors down to Marc Jacobs and realizes that everything’s relative).

The winding streets of the Marais district are also great for rare and precious vintage finds, with some charming examples of vintage Chanel and Hermes – all at a certain price, which is just fine… so long as you’re only window shopping.

If the mere prospect of seeing fabulous vintage clothes and accessories is too much of temptation to splurge, you can always stay at home and order a Chinese... Just add some shell chopstick holders from ShopCurious for a perfectly stylish and authentic experience - and check out our designer vintage clothing without going anywhere.

And, if you're UK based and celebrating today, I hope you enjoy a happy Mothers’ Day... whatever you choose to do. Do let us hear about it.

Will you?


Looking Fab in your forties said...

I am thinking of paying for daughter to go to Paris for her 21st birthday in June, so your post was of great interest. Thanks for sharing.

worm said...

that vintage stuff in the window looks amazing!!! I've always wanted to go to paris for the antiques markets but have yet to find the time and money to take a van out there

Susan said...

A van load of vintage Chanel hmmm - your fiancee's a very lucky lady... or is she your wife now?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Hmm, I'm afraid I'd have to spend my money visiting the art galleries and then eating (and maybe also sleeping) in the park :-)

janettaylor said...

Love those window looks. The last shoes are stunning as well. Thanks for sharing, darling Susan...

Mela said...

It's really interesting, and Paris is my favourite place in the world!
Thanks for sharing

Make Do Style said...

Great info on the post. Love Paris and the hotel sounds a good find x

KnowMagazine said...

Hi there, thanks for stopping by : )

The skirt is actually from All Saints, not Westwood, alas!


Profoundly Superficial said...

Despite the wonky opening hours,Didier Ludot does have some seriously fabulous stuff. It's not cheap but if you're looking for that 1970s YSL tuxedo, this would be your natural port of call.