Travel

The Classic Paris Guide

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Paris is overrun with culture-defining institutions, whether it’s its storied cafés, unparalleled art collections, our couture-based boutiques. Here are a handful of spots that epitomize classic Paris.

Repetto

22 Rue de la Paix, 2nd | +33.1.44.71.83.12

Rose Repetto’s now-iconic brand is as known for their colorful ballet flats as they are for the shoes that outfit the world’s prima ballerinas. After a revitalization in 2000 and a string of high-profile collaborations with brands like Comme des Garçons, Balenciaga, and Yohji Yamamoto, you can find Repetto flats everywhere (in a trademark, 64-pack of colors), though a visit to the Opera flagship is still really worthwhile.

Hermès

42 Avenue George V, 8th | + 33.1.47.20.48.51

Inconceivable as it may sound, we like Hermès’ Left Bank outpost even more than the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré original. Occupying a 1935 Art Deco landmark, which at one time was a swimming pool (the mosaic tile floor remains), this location is a complete brand departure. Archways made from undulating latticed wood reach toward the skylights, and the displays are spare. Beyond the usual suspects of scarves, ties, watches, and saddlery, the space hosts an in-house florist, a bookshop, and a café as well. There is also two other locations, the original in the 1st and another in the 6th.

Goyard

233 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1st | +33.1.42.60.57.04

While Goyard was established as a trunkmaker and packer in 1792, it was a relative secret until about a decade ago, when the world at large decided that they couldn’t live without Goyard’s signature, thin-strapped, hand-painted canvas totes. Available in a rainbow of colors, the luggage here literally lasts forever: It’s all monogrammable, and you can add stripes and symbols as well. While it’s available at a few Paris addresses, the flagship has been in its Rue St. Faubourg home since 1834, making it an easy favorite.

Givenchy

28 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 8th | +33.1.42.68.31.00

Helmed by Riccardo Tisci, Givenchy is one of the French fashion houses that manages to straddle multiple aesthetics without any brand confusion. Floor-skimming, gorgeously draped ombré gowns blend seamlessly with more conceptual creations, like jumpsuits inset with leather bralettes and sheer lace pants. We like the accessories best, though, like slouchy rose-print pouchettes and boxy architectural totes.

Karry’o

416 Rue Saint Honoré, 8th | +33.1.45.48.94.67

'60s Madame Grès, '70s Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent, '80s Chanel: These are the pedigreed names you’ll likely find at this French jewelry institution. Don’t expect bargains: Owner Karine Berrebi (who designed for couture houses for years) knows exactly what she has in her cases—she also designs an exquisite eponymous line.

Galeries Lafayette

40 Boulevard Haussmann, 9th | +33.1.43.54.47.77

This is one of those French institutions that's impossible to miss: You can pretty much buy everything here, from a Chanel bag to truffles. It’s great for tourists in particular, since they can streamline the VAT process. Don’t miss the roof, which offers pretty epic views of Paris.

Gabrielle Geppert

31 Galerie de Montpensier, 1st | +33.1.42.61.53.52

Though it lives in the rarified Palais Royal garden, and its shelves are lined with pristine vintage Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Hermes, Gabrielle Geppert is actually pretty unfussy. Marked by a spray-painted Gabrielle Geppert sign, the slick all-white space is modern and cool, and the overall feel is laidback and unintimidating.

Eric Bompard

91 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 8th | +33.1.53.57.89.60

While there are branches scattered across Paris, we like the flagship on the Champs Elysées best. Quite simply, the cashmere knits here are great (and at great prices), as are the non-cashmere options. The range of colors, styles, and sizes simply astounds.

Christophe Lemaire

28 Rue de Poitou, 3rd | +33.1.44.78.00.09

With stints at Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Muegler, and Christian LaCroix under Christophe Lemaire’s belt, launching his own label in 1991 wasn’t a particularly big feat—but what he’s continued to achieve in the intervening years certainly impresses. Lemaire oversaw the rejuvenation of Lacoste in 2000, before moving on to Hermès women in 2010. Meanwhile, he’s persevered with his own collection, which focuses on crisp and classic sportswear in subtly architectural shapes. The clean-lined Marais flagship, complete with a gold tin ceiling, occupies a former pharmacy.

Charvet

28 Place Vendôme, 1st | +33.1.42.60.30.70

Established in 1838 by Joseph-Christophe Charvet—the son of the man responsible for Napoleon’s wardrobe—this bespoke shirtmaker has been outfitting royalty ever since. Charvet pioneered the concept of custom tailoring (and the shirt collar as we know it today). To this day, they offer exquisite shirting, as well as men’s and women’s pajamas, ties, and scarves. Photo: Francisco Gonzalez

Cadolle

255 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1st | +33.1.42.60.94.94

Beautifully turned out bras in the finest satins and lace are mainstays at this little red-and-gold boutique, which has been focused on corsetry since the end of the 19th century: It’s all deeply refined and restrained, which makes the pieces all the sexier. Meanwhile, the by-appointment-only Loft Couture—which is still part of the Cadolle family—offers bespoke lingerie, which just might be the ultimate luxury.

Nina Ricci

39 Avenue Montaigne, 8th | +33.1.40.88.64.51

While Nina Ricci is best known for iconic perfumes, as late, Peter Copping’s arrival at the house (which was established in the ’30s) has pushed the label back into the fashion spotlight. His frothy dresses—layers and layers of white and black lace, really exquisite detailing, old-world fabrics like muslin and linen—are pretty much perfection.

Louis Vuitton

101 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 8th | +33.1.53.57.52.00

At 13 years of age, Louis Vuitton Malletier left the rural town of Anchay and made his way, by foot, to Paris, finding work and food along the way (it took him three years). After apprenticing with a box maker and packer (yes, it was a thing, back then), Vuitton managed to land the job of packer and box maker to the Empress of France, and the rest is pretty much history. In 1858, Vuitton introduced a rectangular trunk made from lightweight canvas (more durable and lighter than leather), which revolutionized the art of packing.

Lanvin

22 Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, 8th | +33.1.44.71.33.33

Founded in the late 19th-century, Jeanne Lanvin’s fashion house is one of the world’s longest-lasting, thanks to a recent jolt back into the mainstream by designer Alber Elbaz. The perfumes have always been iconic, as are the columnar dresses in muted pastel tones (and now, of course, the elastic edged ballet flats).

Christian Louboutin

19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1st

Sure, you’ll find Christian Louboutin’s full range of red-soled stilettos and studded loafers here, but you’ll also find unparalleled customer service. They maintain a strict 1:1 ratio of salespeople to clients, and while this might seem like it would result in helicopter-like hovering, it doesn’t. Instead, they swoop in only when you have a question or need a size. There are two other locations, one in the 7th and one in the 8th.

Chloé

44 Avenue Montaigne, 8th | +33.1.47.23.00.08

Launched by Egyptian-born Gaby Aghion in the ’50s, Chloé skipped the formality of haute couture in favor of going straight to off-the-rack ready-to wear, a new concept at the time. Perennially feminine (a hallmark the brand has never deviated from), the brand became big under the watchful eye of Karl Lagerfeld in the ’60s and ’70s. There is also another location in the 1st.

Chanel

31 Rue Cambon, 1st | +33.1.44.50.66.00

Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in the 1st, back in 1910, and it’s still the best place to see the full expression of the brand. Spanning three lushly-appointed, black and white floors, the cap-toed ballet flats, quilted bags, and tweedy jackets are all connected by a sweeping central staircase. If you can’t make it to the flagship, there are many more locations across Paris, plus ample representation in Paris’s three main department stores.

Céline

53 Avenue Montaigne, 8th | +33.1.55.80.12.12

Like many of its fashion-centric brethren, Céline launched in the '40s, though with a singular focus on bespoke leather shoes for children. And then it all changed: Céline branched into womenswear in the ’60s, rose to prominence under Michael Kors in the '90s, and is now an established staple, loved for its streamlined, modern shapes.

Carven

8 Rue Malher, 4th | +33.1.42.77.97.65

Carmen de Tommaso’s label launched right in step with couture houses like Balmain and Christian Dior, with some pretty key differences. At just 5’1″, de Tommaso was intent on designing for petite women, and she used her travels to the far-flung corners of the globe as fodder for the pieces. Inspired by Africa and Asia, the line was always full of bright prints and stripes, and while it went dark for decades, the brand’s recent re-emergence plays homage to that early playfulness.

Palais Royal

Place du Palais-Royal, 1st | +33.1.47.03.92.16

Constructed as a home for Cardinal Richelieu in the 17th century, the Palais Royal has had a colorful, and multi-varied past, housing a handful of royals over the centuries, and taking its turn as the centerpiece of Paris’ social scene. It turned into a shopping complex in 1784, and hosted about 150 places of business, from tea shops to book stores to hair salons and boutiques. Not much has changed in the intervening years: Now, labels like Rick Owens, Acne, and Stella McCartney have taken refuge in this gorgeous arcade, which overlooks stunning gardens. If your budget allows, tuck into a very special (and expensive) dinner at the classic Le Grand Véfour on the northwest corner of the building.

Cire Trudon

78 Rue de Seine, 6th | +33.1.43.26.46.50

In 1634, grocer and wax merchant Claude Trudon opened a store on Rue St. Honoré—and Cire Trudon has been lighting the city’s palaces and homes ever since. Thanks to their superlative wax and rigorous candle-making process, the scented pillars burn for hours—without ever sputtering or smoking. They’re not cheap—after all, as company lore would have it, Napoleon’s only gift to his newborn son was a Trudon candle encrusted with three pieces of gold—but they are exquisite. The Paris boutique, complete with a rainbow wall of tapers, busts cast in wax, and the full expression of fragrances, shouldn’t be missed.

Benneton Graveur

75 Boulevard Malesherbes, 8th | +33.1.43.87.57.39

If you have the time for a bespoke, engraved stationery order, you can’t do much better than Benneton. While it’s helmed by a woman who can be a bit gruff (it’s been in the family since 1880), the gorgeous wares make the whole experience worthwhile: They also offer really pretty and simple leather goods, like luggage tags and card cases.

Serge Lutens

142 Galerie de Valois, 1st | +33.1.49.27.09.09

Photographer, creative director, filmmaker, makeup artist, parfumier—Serge Lutens is one of those rare souls who seems to make what he wants to make. He got his start with Vogue, before moving on to launch beauty for Christian Dior, and then Shiseido. His photographs have been exhibited at the Guggenheim, his short films have premiered at Cannes, and he created an “olfactory maze” in his hometown of Lilles of scents of his childhood. At his namesake shop in the Palais Royal, you’ll find his gorgeous perfumes, as well as his full makeup range.

Nose

20 Rue Bachaumont, 2nd | +33.1.40.26.46.03

If diagnostic tests are your bag, you'll love Nose's recommendation technology, which uses your perfume history to predict which fragrances and home scents you'll like best. While you can do the test online—and shop an encyclopedia of brands right there—an in-store consultation is inarguably more fun, as you can vet their recommendations in person. If nothing from Miller Harris, Acqua di Parma, Penhaligon's et al fits the bill, they will whip up a custom scent.

Printemps

99 Rue de Rivoli, 1st | +33.1.76.77.41.00

Like its department store brethren, Printemps has been around for centuries. BUT, it was the first to install elevators (1870’s) and electric lighting (1888). In fact, patrons could see the power plant that made the magic happen behind glass. These days, Printemps is still progressive: There’s an emphasis on luxury here, with shop-in-shops for Azzedine Alaïa, Stella McCartney, and Kenzo. They recently opened another location in the Carousel du Louvre. The original store is in the 9th.

Montaigne Market

57 Avenue Montaigne, 8th | +33.1.42.56.58.58

Slick white gallery-like walls happily play second fiddle to the muted-hued picks on the racks at this 2005 mainstay: While you’ll find a handful of the runway’s more progressive labels—Balmain, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen—everything here manages to straddle that line of being Fashion with a capitol F, without ever trying too hard. In short: There’s plenty here you can wear to a low-key brunch with friends, like pastel pink silk blouses from Tocca, short-sleeve white dresses by Carven, and coated suede leggings by L’Agence.

Papier Plus

9 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 4th | +33.1.42.77.70.49

Archival boxes, photo albums, and notebooks of myriad sizes are mainstays here.

Mona

17 Rue Bonaparte, 6th | +33.1.44.07.07.27

All the big French brands are here, from Chloe and Lanvin to Pierre Hardy.