In the center of Paris near the Louvre Museum is a historic site, originally built in the 1600′s, that is now lined with exclusive boutiques and called the Palais Royal. Once the home of royalty, the area is now an extraordinarily pleasant place to spend an hour or two.
The central area is covered in grass and trees, and interspersed with walkways with occasional benches. Small, elegant restaurants fill in the corners. This area is a sort of a “secret garden” as it is surrounded by the stone enclosure now populated with highly eclectic shops.
The trees are highly manicured:
The nearby theaters are evidenced by some windows, which house incredibly imaginative costumes from past productions. Although the area is dominated by the architecture and park, there are few quiet shops that to me seem unique enough to warrant a post. Here is a sign that captures their names (click to enlarge):
Of interest in makeup and perfume shoppers, Serge Lutens has a quiet, dark and very beautiful location along one side. The inside is painted a deep almost-black and illuminated with violet accents. His exquisite perfumes are set out like jewels on little stages, in a setting that is both intimate and mysterious. A few years ago, I bought Turque Fumiere there in a bell jar, which I did not have time to have engraved with my initials (today, the perfume is available for a limited time in a more practical spray version at department stores).
Here is one of the window displays at Serge Lutens, featuring his lipsticks and two eyeshadow compacts (the compacts were closed at this time, unfortunately, so we cannot see them):
The other store that I’ve always loved is Didier Ludot, who carries vintage fashion clothes and accessories. The storefront alone is an incredible museum of treasures from Chanel, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent and their contemporaries. In fact, there are two Didier Ludot locations–one has only little black dresses, and the other is stuffed with all types of beautiful things.
This is the storefront featured on last season’s Paris fashion week episode of the Rachel Zoe Project. You can see the front window is crowded with vintage costume jewelry:
Purses and shoes, you can see the little placards for the Dior and Hermes, below—do you die? I D-I-E die!! Inside, it is stuffed floor to ceiling with vintage fashion–classic Chanel suits, vintage evening wear, jackets and more elegant accessories.
This time through, I noticed several galleries, a store that sells antique military medals and memorabilia, a toy store, a store selling miniatures of every imaginable thing, theater offices, a gorgeous Marc Jabobs boutique and several places for an intriguing lunch. If you want a museum break, the Palais Royal is a pleasant diversion.