We all have a place we secretly imagine living in another life. In my fantasy world, j’habite à Paris.
I speak French like the locals and my apartment has a charming balcony with the Eiffel Tower waving at me from a distance.
Here I eat croissants every morning (but, miraculously, never put on weight) accompanied by a very strong coffee.
And I drink red wine with my two-hour lunch every day. I simply love Paris and any whiff of a chance, I’m there.
There’s nothing more thrilling than sitting on the Eurostar knowing that in no time you’ll be pulling up at the Gare du Nord with a whole Parisian adventure stretching out in front of you.
PARFAIT FOR PLACE DES VOSGES: DRESS, VICTORIA BECKHAM, BAG, MERCI, AND SHOES, ANCIENT GREEK SANDALS
It’s one of those cities that gets better the more you visit – always full of the unexpected and lashings of je ne sais quois.
Here are a few of my favourite spots. The fabulously eclectic store Merci on boulevard Beaumarchais always gets a visit.
It has three loft-style floors of fashion, a treasure trove of homeware, plus there’s always a vintage Fiat 500 parked by the entrance – a magnet for Instagrammers.
Stock is constantly fine-tuned so every visit is a unique experience. I especially enjoy the preloved section on the bottom floor.
Merci is a terrific place to find a pair of vintage Levi’s or take home a unique piece from exciting labels, both homegrown (Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno) and international (Dôen, Bellerose and Pas de Calais).
Around the corner is another of my happy places – place des Vosges. This elegant square dates back to the 17th century and its park, with beautiful fountains, is the ideal spot to enjoy a picnic or chocolat chaud.
TOP, BAUKJEN, TROUSERS, AND ANOTHER TOMORROW, BELT, H&M, AND BAG, VINTAGE HERMÈS KELLY
Still at place des Vosges, stop at Café Carette for breakfast or lunch, pop into the Hôtel Pavillon de la Reine for a glass of wine in its elegant courtyard or Serpent à Plume for a cocktail.
Afterwards browse the square’s art galleries and perfume shops. You can even visit the maison of French novelist Victor Hugo, who wrote a large part of Les Misérables when he lived there.
Across town, at 35 avenue George V, I really like sustainable fashion brand Icicle. Housed in a building designed by renowned Belgian architect Bernard Dubois, the store is a feast for the eyes.
You can also get a great snap of the Arc de Triomphe and window shop or splurge in the surrounding designer stores.
THE LANDMARK BOOKSTORE DATING BACK TO 1801
And no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to one of its magical bookstores.
My favourite is Librairie Galignani, one of the oldest – it’s been in business since 1801 – and most chic.
Bag, around £412, elleme.com
Run by six generations of the Galignani family, it can be found at 224 rue de Rivoli, standing underneath the massive arcade, and has welcomed many famous visitors including the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.
On my radar
Bold investment bags, such as the Baozi, statement outerwear, asymmetric dresses and dynamic suiting are cool French brand Elleme’s hallmark.
I also love its comfy shoes. Check out its pieces at elleme.com or visit its Paris boutique at 64 boulevard Haussmann.
A rue reborn
To Parisians it is rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, but to me, it is Emily in Paris square. The filming location of Netflix’s hit series is worth a visit not just for its prettiness but great food, too.
Eat in Gabriel’s restaurant, (an Italian in real life), pop next door to the boulangerie where Emily (played by Lily Collins) tasted her first croissant and imagine yourself living in her apartment, which is there, too. And, of course, laugh at all those silly tourists taking photos. Imagine!
To Parisians it is rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, but to me, it is Emily in Paris square
Pop next door to the boulangerie where Emily (played by Lily Collins) tasted her first croissant and imagine yourself living in her apartment, which is there, too