My favorite square in Paris is without a doubt the Place Vendome. I even have a painting of it in my bedroom by Moura Chabor!
The storied square is actually 26 separate buildings with a unified front designed by Mansart. Based on the success of the earlier Place des Vosges in the Marais (a similar concept of different buildings looking as one), it was fully complete by 1720.
The Hotel Ritz, which occupies # 15 ( and possibly 17? ), is currently under renovation and is covered by the scaffolding seen above. This also includes a full restoration of the column in the center of the square originally erected by Napoleon in 1810.
To the right of the scaffolding you can see what the original mansion fronts look like.
This corner of the square is still open so you can see the original intent.
Above each archway is a different face -this guy looks a bit constipated! Notice the lovely ironwork on the guard between houses.
But what lies behind these grand facades? Hotels and businesses of course but at one time they were all private homes. Go through the vaulted archways and you still find very residential scaled facades.
This little courtyard above would make the perfect Paris pied a terre!
This very grand staircase leads one up into the buildings from the porte cochere.
All of this 'stone' is actually plaster scored and painted to resemble the stone the facades are built of. This is outdoor space but at the same time protected so it wears well.
And a very blurry picture looking into one of these historic building's stair - whats not to like?!
The best part of visiting Paris in the winter, particularly at Christmastime, is the shopping! The city is decked out with Christmas trees and lights hoping to get everyone in the spirit and attract some business.
My favorite area of Paris for shopping is along (and around) the Rue Saint Honore seen in the photos above.
The shop windows are decorated in the most enticing ways. Above at Astier de Villatte the window display was of charming ornaments available on the rarely open 2nd floor. This is one of my favorite shops in the city and I treated myself to early Christmas gift(s), or to be more accurate, blew my financial load.
Nearby at Goyard the unique leather goods are SO tempting (until one views the price tags). One day I'll treat myself to a wallet but only if I don't visit Astier de Villatte happen first!
For loved ones in the city some roses from the spectacular floral shop adjacent to the trendy Hotel Costes would be stunning.
Don't forget the adjacent Place Vendome, home to the most spectacular jewelry shops in the world. Interesting to note that the central column is being restored as part of the Ritz renovation (which is barely seen on the left in the above photo).
The most popular part of the city in which to shop for Parisians is in the Marais (particularly on Sundays) where small charming boutiques crowd the ancient streets along with friendly bistros.
My favorite shop in the Marais I stumbled upon is Les Mille Feuille which carries architectural models from ArchitectDesign sponsor Chisel & Mouse prominently displayed in their window! I loved the patterned lamp shades they stock and was so tempted to indulge; the store is perfect for small gifts.
A small crowd was assembled outside of this shop to watch this animatronic Hippo play the cello!
The Ile St Louis was competing for most interesting light display with these strings coursing down the central street the entire length of the island.
Small antique shops are to be found all throughout the city, not just in the known districts, and I noted this interesting shop above in the posh 17th arrondissment.
My 2nd favorite neighborhood for shopping is on the Left Bank in chic St-Germain. Here the most impressive museum-quality antique stores jostle with art galleries and home design shops. I lusted after THESE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHAIRS IN THE WORLD (yes all in caps) at the Galerie Spadafora.
Unfortunately by the time I found Le Cabinet de Porcelaine it was closed for the day! The tiny shop has been written about in most design magazines for the stunning artwork they carry, all done in porcelain.
I surely would have gone home with the small Meissen cabbage covered bowl above! I have to say that I love the European habit of displaying prices in the window.
One mustn't forget the fabulous department stores of Paris located behind the Opera. Printemp's windows rival any of those in New York. The views from the rooftop restaurants (which I will feature in a separate post) are worth the visit alone!
The only thing better than shopping in Paris is being in Paris!