/ The Baby Boomer Travel Guide
Baby Boomers, Paris — By Maria Olia on August 23, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Filed under: Shopping, top-feature

Shopping the Champs Elysees in Paris

My husband and I flew to Paris to celebrate our wedding anniversary — without our four teenagers. Our three-day long weekend turned out to be cool, dark and rainy. It didn’t matter. After all, almost every couple can use a little Paris after more than 20 years of marriage.

Our pied d’terre was the Hotel Francois Premier (7 Rue Magellan, Paris) (Map), an intimate boutique hotel just steps away from the Champs Elysees, the city’s most famous avenue. The comfortable jewel-box like rooms featured padded fabric walls, toile bed coverings, silk curtains, custom furnishings and disproportionately large marble bathrooms with modern spa-like amenities.The hotel’s accommodating staff completed the romantic illusion.

It is can easily take the better part of a day to discover the sights and pleasures of the Champs Elysees. And although the Champs Elysees is well-known as one of the most exclusive shopping destinations in the world, window shopping and browsing is free!  Parisians typically stroll up the Champs Elysees when shopping so begin your promenade from the Champs Elysees/Clemenceau Metro to walk through the pretty gardens of the Grand Palais and Petit Palais (map). As you walk  along the tree-lined  grand boulevard  you will notice specialty boutiques, designer fashion houses, global chain stores and sprawling sidewalk cafes. Your final destination is the Place d’Etoile and the impressive Arc de Triumph (Map) at its center.

The Arch was built by Napoleon to honor his military victories and is the home to France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Be sure to visit the Arch’s observation platform — you can either climb the 284 steps or take the elevator — which provides an inspiring panorama of  the twelve wide avenues that radiate from the traffic circle below and the city beyond. It is an especially spectacular sight at night.

You can always feel good about buying books as a souvenir of your vacation. Artcurial (7 Rond Point des Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30 am – 7 pm) (Map) inside the Hotel Dassault is a wonderful place to peruse one of the city’s largest collections of art and architecture books.

Trendsetters on a budget go wild for Spanish retailer Zara (44 Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 am – 8 pm). Nearby, the Virgin Megastore (52-60 Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: Monday-Saturday 10 am – midnight, Sunday noon – midnight) sells CD’s, electronic gear, and books and is always fun to check out.

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French perfumes are justifiably world famous and can be an affordable souvenir splurge. Entering La Maison Guerlain (68 Avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30 am – 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm – 7 pm) is a little intimidating, but the staff is helpful, not haughty.  The street floor features Guerlain’s current make-up and fragrance collections, but the real Guerlain experience  awaits when you walk up the curved staircase where  you can sample  from among dozens of  luscious perfumes. You may even discover a new favorite. Next door, find one of the world’s largest Sephora store (70 Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: 10 am – midnight daily). This beauty supply mecca has eye-catching displays that entice and is chock full of every type of cosmetic that you would need and plenty of things you didn’t even know you needed! Sephora stocks high-end cosmetics, skin care and perfume lines as well as their own excellent Sephora house brand . Try to come at off-peak hours, the store is often mobbed and the staff can be harried.

Feet tired yet? The venerable tea house Laduree (66 Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 am – 11:30 pm, Saturday 8:30 am – 12:30 am, Sunday 8:30 AM-11:30 PM) is conveniently located at just about the half-way point of the Champs Elysees and makes a logical stopping point for a restorative break. Laduree has an inviting Old World atmosphere — the tea house dates from the 1860′s — and it is the perfect spot to enjoy a pot of tea accompanied by macaroon cookies in flavors that range from simple almond to complex black currant violet and  orange blossom.

The flagship store of fashion house Louis Vuitton (101 Champs Elysees, Paris, hours:  Monday-Saturday 10 am – 8pm, Sunday 11 am – 7 pm ) is so popular a tourist attraction, that there is usually a line to get inside. Louis Vuitton’s signature luggage and handbags collections are covet-worthy and pricey . You may want to check out their  still wonderfully designed but more affordable small leather goods, costume jewelery, and notebook collections.

And for a surreal fantasy buying trip, you may want to look at  the fine gems on display in the windows at Cartier (154 Champs Elysees, Paris, hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30 am – 7 pm), one of the great names in jewelry design.

The intersection of  Champs Elysee, George V, and Montaigne Avenues is referred to as the “golden triangle” and boasts several die-hard local stores that have stood the test of time. A standout among them is  D. Porthault (50 ave. de Montaigne) which specializes in exquisite luxury bed linens that are often adorned with charming details like embroidery  and scallops. Another find in this area is Hediard (31 ave. George V, Paris) where you can buy  much-appreciated and  beautifully packaged food gifts such as tea, chocolates, and mustards for your family and friends back home.

For a gourmet French restaurant experience that won’t break the bank, Spoon,Food and Wine (12, rue Marignan, Paris) (Map) by Michelin chef Alain Ducasse is a marvelous choice. The internationally influenced contemporary French menu makes use of seasonal and organic ingredients and features dishes like young rabbit with zucchini and sage or  baked hake with lemon and watercress. Be sure to order their signature dish — the chocolate pizza for dessert.

Image Credit: Arc de Triomphe Flickr, Jon Fravel, Champs Elysees, wallyg

Related places:
  1. A
    Hotel Francois 1Er
    7 Rue Magellan, Paris, 75008, FR
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
    View Details and Book
  3. C
    Arc de Triomphe
    Arc de Triomphe 1, Paris, France
    View Details and Book
  4. D
    Artcurial | Briest - Poulain - F. Tajan
    View Details and Book
  5. E
    Soc Cartier
    View Details and Book
  6. F
    Spoon Food and Wine
    View Details and Book
Tags: Shopping, top-feature

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