Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Weekend in Paris

Paris is a city of many memories for me.  It is where I undertook postgraduate study and it is where I had my first professional occupation as a Teaching Fellow in Law.  I loved my time living in Paris -  I’ve made many friends there and it’s a place I always feel is a home-from-home.  For that reason, I have always maintained I would keep close connections with Paris and therefore made a vow to myself to return every year.  There is just something about Paris.  I recently went for a weekend visit, it mainly concerned shopping and here are my highlights. 

Paris, it is very pretty.  The architecture is something to behold and that alone is a highlight of any visit.  I always forget how stunning it is.  Literally every building you walk past you want to take a photo of.  The cream tones of the buildings mixed with the green floral foliage, which is ever apparent around Paris, makes for a dreamy combination.  The quirky shutters on the Parisian windows and bicycles strolling deliver a quaint (and very French) touch.   The metro signs are always a lovely quirky feature and they differ throughout the city.  My favourite is the one pictured below of Bastille Metro, it is just so different.  Don’t get me wrong, Paris still has that city feel, with the buzzing of mopeds and hustle of people but it’s not completely in your face.  One thing I would say on the back of the buzzing of mopeds - if you ever drive in Paris, I will automatically put you on my brave list.  It can get pretty crazy. 

One place I love in Paris is Ladurée on the Champs-Elysees.  Just being in there makes me happy.  During this visit I went for my staple, a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and cholocat macaron.  For me that combination is always a winner.  The velvet texture of the hot chocolate is something to behold and the taste is just divine; it oozes luxury.  The macarons are, of course, world famous and they quite rightly deserve their global recognition.  The interior of Ladurée fits with the atmosphere within, complete sophistication.  It has that Parisian feel.  The service can be at times patchy (so probably not the best place to go if you are in a rush) but the beauty of the building, the interior and the finesse of the food does it justice alone.

The Champs-Elysees and the surrounding areas are a great shopping hot spot after a Laudaree pit stop.  But make sure not to just stop at the Champs-Elysees, the side streets and Avenue de Montaigne hold the real beauties.  My just-off-the-Champs-Elysees favourites?  Dior and Chanel, even if you don’t intend to buy anything, the shops décor and displays are alone worth seeing.

Photos taken from Avenue de Montaigne and the Champs-Elysees. 

Another place I love is Galeries Lafayette.  I could get lost in there and come out days later, still with a smile beamed across my face.  You have Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Dior, Tiffany & Co, Celineoh heck, every designer worth a mention under one roof.  Again, the architecture of the building is divine and there is a nice eatery on the top floor.  The eatery is not overly fancy and great for stress free eating whilst in a shopping frenzy.  At the moment you can get a novelty key chain for free when you spend over 55€ in Galeries Lafayette.  You will find the voucher at the back of certain tourist leaflets scattered around Paris.  A nice touch for a memorable shopping experience. 

And if you are in a crazy shopping mood, I would suggest Val d’Euorpe at Marne-la-Vallée.  Val d’Europe, a shopping centre and the adjoining outlet village, La Vallée Village, is located just a stone throw away from Disneyland Paris.  My personal highlights are Ralph Lauren, Longchamp, Michael Korrs and Tommy Hilfiger.  You get great gelato there too!  Within the Val d’Europe shopping centre there are 140 shops, with your usual classics like Sephora, Zara etc.  But, a surprising shop for me within the mall was KIKO Milano Cosmetics.  A relatively unknown brand in the UK, but great quality and extremely affordable.  It’s a new favourite of mine.

Val d'Europe - La Vallee Village

My last highlight? The hotel gardens at Les Jardin du Marais.  They are simply beautiful and incredibly relaxing. I had the pleasure of kicking back with a Rosé wine on both nights with my Mum.  For the record, the Rosé was just as good as the gardens. 

Photos taken from Les Jardin du Marais

Leave a comment below if you have been to any of the above places or if you have enjoyed any other parts of Paris.  

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