Finally have the opportunity to post some pictures from my recent trip to Paris. Some favorite moments included spending New Year’s Eve at the Eiffel Tower with my younger brother, visiting Marché aux Puces de Paris (the largest flea market in Paris), and lots of fresh hot chocolate.
The first four pictures are from Galeries Lafayette. It’s a huge department store in the heart of Paris, but it’s incomparable to Saks, Bloomingdales, and Neiman Marcus. The inventory is endless and all very high end. I instantly gravitated towards the shoe displays along the staircases—so creative and beautiful. The same artistry could be found in the various perfume displays, which look as good as they smell.
At Marché aux Puces, I was in awe of all the vintage clothing and jewelry from every famous French designer. The pictured case of vintage Chanel jewels was the largest I’ve ever seen. This was after passing by vendors with dozens of Louis Vuitton trunks stacked to the ceiling and Hermes scarves overflowing from actual Hermes boxes as seen in the stores. I wish this market was open during the week, instead of just the weekend, because I would have probably spent the entire trip circling around this market repeatedly.
No trip to Paris is complete without venturing to the last stop on the Metro to the Chateau Versailles. The palace built by Louis XIV is opulence, grandeur, and extravagance all in one. No detail was overlooked in its construction and historians and restorers have been able to maintain each and every one. The doorknob pictured was on every window pane, door, and drawer of the palace. And if that isn’t impressive enough, see Marie Antoinette’s bedroom. Not too shabby even by modern standards.
Thanks to the help of a coworker, I was directed to L’Eclaireur. While they have many locations in Paris, these concept stores are truly unique. Essentially, the avaunt-garde pieces seen in fashion shows around the world are sold in these stores as ready to wear items. The leather and feather belt for instance was being sold at the store I visited and I didn’t even bother to look at the price tag, which I knew would only make my exiting the store without it that much more painful (plus it would be in euros, double whammy).
But fashion is easy to find anywhere in Paris. My Uncle Hank noted that for a country that is currently struggling like many other in the European Union due to expansive social security programs, outrageously expensive housing markets, and employment laws that make it very difficult for young people to find jobs there were SO many shops in Paris. All of the stores could easily allow one to assume that Parisians primarily spend their free time—and their money—shopping for clothes. However, these stores are mainly dependent on tourists as the French generally buy just a few high quality items and rotate them regularly. There is a much larger emphasis in general in French culture for quality over quantity (although my younger brother attests that the best McDonald’s double cheeseburger he’s ever had was in Paris).
All of these stores acted as constant sources of inspiration for me. I wanted to take pictures at many stores, but my family members and store owners both grew to find this desire annoying, so I was forced to store the majority of these images in my mind. One I was able to sneak is of the stack of skull bracelets. I snapped this both because I found it aesthetically pleasing and because I find it a reminder that France is not just all about high fashion—it’s about all fashion.
Ultimately, the one major purchase I walked away with was this adorable Marc by Marc Jacobs bag which I found for a great price at La Bon Marche (another amazing, high-end Parisian department store). I was seeking a very functional, but cute bag to use when going out on the weekends and this fit my criteria perfectly. The flap of the bag zips open and can be used to store those items one may be worried about losing—just the essentials like your I.D., money, or digital camera. This allows you to go through crowded places without being worried that someone could slip their hand in your bag without you noticing and walk away with something valuable to you. This mode of thinking is possibly a bit paranoid, but living in a big city forces you to seriously ponder such “what if” scenarios. Ultimately, this bag was a great alternative to the similarly-sized and colored Chanel one I found at Marché aux Puces that had a €600 price tag.
There are still sites, stores, and cafes on my list that I did not get to cross off on this trip, but that just gives me another excuse to hopefully travel to Paris again sometime soon.