Paris Fashion Week’s centuries-old heritage is equally as scintillating as the trends fabricated by the city’s creative talents. Since the late 1800s, Paris has cultivated many of the fashion world’s most inventive minds, including the illustrious Coco Chanel and the King of Fashion, Paul Poiret. While Paris’ connection to fashion week is unquestionably iconique and utterly unmatched, the City of Light is also home to a collection of fashion-forward, heritage-rich destinations to shop, spa, dine, play and stay that sparkle all year round.
Dive right into Paris’ plethora of hip boutiques, vintage shops, and designer ateliers with a visit to The Marais. One can’t-miss destination in the neighborhood is Empreintes, a concept shop housed within the once-upon-a-time workshop of Chanel’s jewelers, the Wolochs. A veritable treasure trove of made-in-France antiques (with an eponymous name that quite literally translates to “fingerprints”), Empreinte is home to more than 1,000 works of fine French craftsmanship and limited edition pieces created by more than 6,000 artisans. From sculptural tableware and hand-painted ceramics to bronze statues (including one that resembles an alarming combination of both a baby and a beast), there’s a little or big something for everyone to buy at Empreinte. Cap off your Marais capers with a stroll down the sophisticated Champs-Élysées, where the gleaming storefronts of luxury retailers – Louis Vuitton, Celine, Dior, and oh-so-much-more – shine a spotlight on Paris’ most public catwalk. Is private retail therapy more your thing? Wander your way into the museum-like environs of the boutique housed within the landmark Fouquet’s hotel. Peruse a highly curated selection of fine jewelry, small leather goods, and playful curiosities that encapsulate Paris’ joie de vivre.
From the nap chairs at Charles de Gaulle Airport to the meteoric rise in vegan cafes, Paris’ health and wellness scene is hitting a historic high. In a city seemingly built on butter – and fueled by foie gras and fromage – the destination’s multitude of workout classes and world-class designer spas are the antidote to long days consuming fashion and food. Work out your language skills at Barry’s Bootcamp or the Paris Marais Dance School ballet barre. Soothe sore muscles with a steam at the Grand Mosque – the city’s oldest mosque located in the Latin Quarter – which has played host to countless bathers with its beautiful mosaics and fragrant, sprawling depths since the 1920s. Cool off from your steam session with a dive beneath the depths of the Champs-Elysées at Spa Diane Barrière at Fouquet’s hotel. Slipping into the private, heated pool beneath the famous avenue is a recuperative foray into Paris’s finer – albeit darker – side.
At Fouquet’s Paris, experience a two-pronged taste of Parisian history past and present by dining at the property’s two restaurants. Since 1946, the red-awnings of Fouquet’s brasserie have welcomed the stars of the French film industry at the annual after-party of the César awards (the French Oscars). Helmed by three-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire, Fouquet’s menu of French classics is rivaled only by the restaurant’s commitment to upholding tradition.
As a home-away-from-home for Parisian power players, regular guests receive engraved napkin rings ceremoniously housed in a cabinet on the property – to be used for every visit. Follow up Fouquet’s brasserie with a second dinner at Le Joy. Sample Le Joy’s recently debuted an all-French menu featuring ingredients grown exclusively in France. Cap off your two dinners by stumbling into one of Paris’ few remaining authentic speakeasies: Le Marta. A gentle push of Le Marta’s “library door” reveals a red room brimming with plush velvet banquets, vintage neon signs, and cocktails in copper Absolut Elyx vessels. Sip your French Martini from a Flamingo to the soundtrack of Paris’ hippest DJ’s and don’t leave till dawn – or at least until adventure calls.
Come nightfall, lose the clothes entirely at the city’s classiest cabaret, Crazy Horse, where acclaimed burlesque performers entertain dressed only in the spotlight. Sip champagne while soaking in the avant-garde spectacle dreamed up by the likes of Christian Louboutin and David Lynch that has captivated audiences for more than 70 years. Whether or not you can-can not believe it, Crazy Horse is the city’s most prestigious cabaret. For a nocturnal activity that is far less lively but arguably just as titillating, book a nighttime walking tour through the city’s most legendary necropolis, the Catacombes de Paris. Descend 65 feet (and two hundred years) for a 1.5 hour guided exploration through two miles of damp, dark tunnels – one of which hosted an illegal chamber music concert in 1897. Now, as the final resting place for six million Parisians, the artistically-arranged catacombs are bone-chilling in their beauty – a macabre marvel that has inspired countless fashion designers, including Alexander McQueen.
As the last luxury hotel in Paris to still belong to a French family, the Barriere family, Fouquet’s’ 101 rooms and suites designed by Jacques Garcia beckon you to bed. Choose a room with views of the Arc de Triomphe – in case you forgot you were in Paris. Traveling with your gossip girls like the best of the fashion set? Check in to the Harcourt Paris Suite, one of the most glamorous getaways in the city styled to resemble a Parisian apartment. At 2,200 square feet, the two-bedroom suite features a private steam room, a dressing studio, a dining room with a kitchen, a private fitness center, a private library, and a terrace with sweeping skyline views – you could put on your own fashion show with the city of Paris as your audience. But why would you want to when there’s so much history to soak up?
By Cass Lovett