“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.” So wrote Balzac in 1830, and it is hard to argue with him. The birthplace of haute couture is the natural home of the discerning shopper. From the sandstone-clad splendour of the Golden Triangle, hemmed in by avenues Montaigne, George V and des Champs-Elysées, to the boutiques on Rue Saint-Honoré and the jewellers of Place Vendôme, the city’s concentration of exquisite shops is unparalleled.
Iconic flagships include the first Dior boutique on Avenue Montaigne, the brand-new temple to Louis Vuitton on Place Vendôme and the original home of Chanel on Rue Cambon. Elsewhere on Place Vendôme, shop displays sparkle with the wares of the most prestigious jewellers and watchmakers. Over on the Left Bank, one could easily spend an afternoon choosing between the confections in La Grande Epicerie, the magnificent food hall within the world’s first department store, Le Bon Marché.
Colette — catch it while you can
Paris is also the birthplace of the concept store. The world’s first, Colette), will close on December 20 after two decades of setting trends. But before it does, Chanel has taken over the first floor with a sneaker collaboration with Pharrell Williams. Other must-visits include Empreintes, dedicated to artisanal craft, and interiors boutique Maison Sarah Lavoine. Experiential offerings are in abundance, too, from jewellery-making workshops at Van Cleef & Arpels on Place Vendôme, to a bespoke consultation at Guerlain (00 3314260 6861), to develop one’s own perfume. Throw in the taxidermist’s La Maison Deyrolle, and there really is a shop to suit every taste.
The personal shopper: The famous Galeries Lafayette department store offers not only a personal-shopping service, but a private penthouse, La Suite, in which to try on handpicked pieces and even enjoy spa treatments. It can be booked by the hour or day. It costs €250 (£223) for a two-hour styling session.
A Laulhere beret
The hit list: Historic shirt-maker Charvet, on Place Vendôme, sells a dazzling range of chemises, with no fewer than 500 shades of white to choose from. Past clients include Baudelaire, Hemingway and Churchill. Across the river, a visit to the achingly chic Inès de la Fressange Bazaar is obligatory. No trip to Paris would be complete without a touch of Saint Laurent; the legendary designer’s former couture house reopened as Musée Yves Saint Laurent in October. Visit it before or after checking out the Hedi Slimane-designed boutique at 53 Avenue Montaigne.
A low-carb lunch at Les Confidences
The star buy:If you’re going to do cliché, do it right. Traditional beret-maker Laulhère has been producing the iconic hats since 1840, and last year opened a dedicated boutique on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Staff advise on the perfect beret for you, and patrons may even order a customised piece with gold-leaf lettering.
The pit stops:On Place Vendôme, it is only right to prendre une pause at the intimate Bar Hemingway at the Ritz, named after one of its most loyal patrons. For a delightfully secluded lunch, try the low-key elegance of Les Confidences restaurant at Hôtel San Régis, a quintessentially French hideaway tucked behind Avenue Montaigne.
A suite at the reopened Crillon
The stylish stays: A lavish four-year renovation has ensured the recently reopened Crillon – now part of the Rosewood portfolio – remains one of the most glamorous hotels in France. Its most stylish abodes are two Karl Lagerfeld-designed suites; for cocktails, visit Les Ambassadeurs. From €973 (£860). Alternatively, plump for the decadent Nolinski, which opened last year near the Louvre.Its tranquil salons and serene subterranean spa provide an idyllic retreat after a day promenading – and the hotel concierge offers his own personal-shopping service. Superior rooms from €410 (£360).