Category Archives: Shopping

Celeb Shopping in Paris: Joel Villard: Coifs in the Peak of Chic

Don’t we all want to know the favorite Paris picks and tips from savvy celebrity shoppers? Follow IKALP as they tell us what they reserve for friends.

Praised as the “Master Colorist,” glamorous Parisiennes keep Joel Villard, and his salon devoted to color, on their private A-list. JV tells IKALP what inquiring minds want to know:

IKALP: Your best shopping bargain?

JV: One Sunday I was wandering down a small street in Montmartre and saw a sign for APC.  I went inside just to browse but right away found some beautiful trousers that fit perfectly.  They were 50% off the regular price and I grabbed 3 pairs.

IKALP:Your worst shopping mistake?

JV: Once in Ferragamo, I saw a marvelous pair of shoes – it was a “cri du couer.”  I tried them on and thought, well they don’t exactly fit but with wear they should be OK.   That turned out to be an impossible dream.  I can’t put them on the poubelle (trash) because they were too expensive.  They are still sitting in my closet and I still love them but, I look at them now as art objects.

IKALP: Who would you most like to go shopping with – your dream shopping companion?

JV: Author and designer Carolyn Roehm because of her great eye for beauty.

IKALP:When the January and June city wide sales begin, what’s your favorite shopping destination?

JV: The Bon Marché without question.

IKALP: What’s the Parisian secret to savvy shopping?

JV: There are three rules:  Quality, Need, and Price.  First – always first — look for Quality.    Second: Ask yourself “Will I really use it or will it just sit in my closet?” “Do I need it or is it only a passing flirtation? After that, consider price.  Is it a smart value?  Is it worth more than the cost to me?

IKALP: When you need a break from shopping where do you go for some refreshment?

JV: On the Right Bank, I go to Colette, the café downstairs where the food is fresh and light, or I go to Angelina on the rue du Rivoli for anything – especially the sweets.  On the Left Bank, I go to Emporio Armani Caffe, it’s not too expensive if I have a plate of pasta and a glass of wine.

IKALP: For people coming to Paris to shop, what items do you suggest they look for?

JV: Luxury items, fashion, of course,  and fine linens, I particularly like Porthault at 50 Avenue Montaigne and Noel at 1 Ave Pierre in the Place de Serbie.   Often overlooked are the great items for cooks.  In addition to the famous Dehillerin, I also like Kitchen Bazaar.  There are several around town, I go to the one at 11 Avenue du Maine.

 IKALP: Is there something that sets Parisiennes apart on the street as opposed to other shoppers?

JV: Yes, Parisian women have a particular look – they are not really perfect.  There’s some certain little bohemian quality. In New York or London, women are always perfect: the clothes, shoes, hair, make-up – everything in place and nothing missing.  For the Parisienne, chic is not striving for perfection but has more to do with individuality.

IKALP: How do you prefer to shop, by Metro? Taxi? Bus? Or on foot?

JV:  Paris by foot is always best.

IKALP: Do you prefer the Right Bank or the Left Bank for shopping?

JV: Right Bank for clothes and shoes and Left Bank for antiques and art galleries.

IKALP: What would be your idea of a perfect shopping day in Paris?

JV: I’d start on the Right Bank and spend a leisurely morning , making sure I stopped at Prada and Ferragamo (remembering not to be tempted buy shoe that don’t’ fit,  no matter how handsome).  I’d lunch at Café Colette, and then move on to the Left Bank and spend hours walking through the Carre´Rive Gauche.  

IKALP: What do you collect?

JV: From the time years ago when I first saw one in an antique shop, I’ve collected what the French call “Pyrogène” or “match striker” in English.  I find them charming and, happily, they are very inexpensive.  I also like wine glasses of all sizes and vintages.  However, I don’t like drinking champagne from stemmed glasses and prefer using tumblers.

IKALP: What’s your greatest extravagance?

JV:  My little house in Provençe where I escape every August when all of Paris is on vacation.

Joel Villard
16 rue de Saint-Simon
Paris, 75007
Metro: Rue du Bac
Tel: 01-45-55-85-69

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When to shop at Paris’s Marché aux Puces?

When to shop at Paris’s Marché aux Puces?

ANYTIME is good shopping time at Paris’s (and maybe the world’s) best flea market. But if you want to avoid the usual crowds aim at a time, like now, when the Spring calendar in France is full of holidays and the tourists are not yet in full force. Yesterday was one of those days; my friend, Connie, and I took Metro line #4 to the Porte de Clignancourt station just north of Paris in St. Ouen . To reach the Marcé aux Puces, with its fabled 2,000 dealers covering 18 acres, we walked about 5 minutes on blvd Ornano toward the Peripherique (the ring road around Paris) turning left onto the rue des Rosiers, the Flea Market’s main street. (check our I Know A Little Place iPhone app for detailed directions).

We were limited to a few hours since Connie was headed for a chateau weekend with friends in Normandy, so we headed straight for two never-fail market stops: Paul Bert and Serpette. The best shopping always seems to come when, rather than a specific item, your mind and eye are unencumbered and you allow yourself open to possibilities.

In Serpette, we lingered and savored the new finds at old favorites: Olwen Forest for vintage costume jewelry coveted by celebrities and Alain Zisul at Le Monde De Voyage, for perhaps the best collection of Vuitton trunks and luxury luggage (see “People You Need to Know”).

Then, it happened; as the French say Connie had a “Cri du Coeur.” There it was – it called to her, it sang to her from the glass display case of a porcelain stand – a 1940s coffee set (complete with 8 cups and saucers) in a vibrant yellow with whimsical dark blue polka dots and stylized flower motif. How could she have lived so long without it? After some bargaining (best accomplished with fewer competitors) it was packed carefully and we were off. I’m thinking about going back soon to follow up on a discontinued Chanel bag I spotted at Alain’s before it’s gone – a common fate for those who hesitate. (Unless you are a dealer, the best hunting hours are from around 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday, with some stands closing earlier).

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A Paris Silver Vault

When our tipping silver tea pot crashed to the floor leaving the handle and top as separate pieces, I had doubts of finding a replacement any time soon — or ever.  A tipping pot sits in a stand and rocks forward without having to lift the pot to pour, perhaps a seemingly small advantage until you had one and become used to the luxury.
The best plan seemed to have the pot mended, but it soon became apparent that repair would cost more than the original price of the pot.  An internet search produced one candidate but so small it would hold only a few scant cups.  Reconnaissance trips to silver shops around Paris yielded another possibility but it lacked charm and the cost was astronomical.
What to do?  One phone call solved the whole problem.   When I told Laure at her Stand 29 in the Marché Biron at the Clignancourt Flea Market my plight, she immediately told me she had a number I could choose from.  I was there the next morning and sure enough Laure lined up an array of beauties in all sizes, shapes, and eras.   I would have been delighted with any one of them but we narrowed it down to one that would hold enough tea for a party and I’m already making up the guest list.
Laure’s shop is truly a silver vault of treasures.  The highest quality heirlooms pieces, both of flat and hollowware, make up the collection.  Even the hardest to find items are included.  Have a yen for asparagus serving tongs?  Look no further.  The prices are fair and items inevitably find homes quickly.
Laure is carrying on a family tradition. The business was begun by her grandfather when he came to Paris from the Ukraine in 1921, interrupted during the war, and started up again by Laure’s father.   Now Laure continues their commitment to the high standards that keep international clients loyal over the years and  constantly add new ones.
Unlike the trend of dealers promoting their wares on the internet, Laure prefers that new customers find her by word of mouth or perhaps learn about her from cognoscenti such as David Allan in his book, French Silver Cutlery of he XIXth Century, in which she is the only dealer mentioned and most of the photographs are of her pieces.
For anyone looking for vintage silver in Paris, look no further.  If you are searching in another city -– make the trip.  The savings will help defray the cost of your travel and the satisfaction you’ll have from your purchases will be priceless.

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Paris in August: To Shop or Not to Shop?

I’d intended to warn all you savvy shoppers that August is NOT the month to come to Paris.  It’s the time traditionally when the city shuts down and Parisians head for the country for the entire month.  When we started our Paris life, this was one of the things that took most getting used to.  How could merchants afford to simply close down and post a note on their door that they were on vacation, sometimes with the charming explanation “in honor of August.” In August Paris seems more like a village than a city and for this reason, the intent of this message was going to be “Don’t come to Paris in August if you want to shop.”

However, after thinking more carefully and savoring the pleasures, there are  good reasons to come in August.  The trick is to plan to avoid disappointments and know how to enjoy the advantages.  It’s true that the smaller shops are likely to be shuttered and closed.  The intimate little boutiques are best left for another time.  But, fabulous shopping is still available in the grand magazines and selected shops.  My own favorite, Le Bon Marche, is as chic as ever BUT without the crowds and Reciproque, a destination for vintage clothing and accessories is open for business.  The distinctly Parisian tearooms so beloved by tired shoppers have tables ready with no waiting lines.  That’s the beauty of August shopping, no jostling competition.  You can roam crowd-free and enjoy undivided attention from attendants eager to help you find whatever you are looking for.  There are even some items still held over from the summer sales.  For example, a French friend going off for her mid August Club Med vacation told me she just bought a bathing suit for 7 euros.

Coupled with the freedom of crowd-free shopping, is the added ease of transportation. Public transportation in Paris is always a marvel of convenience, and it’s understandably popular with Parisians, which means metros and buses are usually bustling with travelers.  Not so in August.  Metro seats are aplenty and the roomy comfortable buses are a treat.  I even saw a long line of taxis waiting patiently at our neighborhood taxi stand for customers  — not a sight at any other time of year.

A Caveat:  Although the larger stores remain open as usual, some keep summer hours and because most smaller shops will be closed, it’s best to check to avoid inconvenience.  On our I Know A Little Place app you can dial the store directly from its page and schedule your shopping trip accordingly.  Once you know how to plan, don’t deny yourself Paris at any time.

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Parisians You’ll Want to Know: Alain Zusul

Alain Zisul was a finance controller in a multinational corporation before he and his wife, Helen, a former English teacher, took over, Le Monde Du Voyage, the business his father started 30 years ago, and was the first to sell vintage Hermes.  Today, in addition to Hermes luggage and accessories, Chanel jewelry and handbags, their Stand #15, Allée 3 in Marché Serpette (110 Rue des Rosiers) has perhaps the best collection of Vuitton trunks from the end of the 19th century until now, most from the 1930s.

A personal annual ritual is to add an Hermes vintage scarf from the Zisul’s vast collection (over 200 on site and an equal number in his private collection) to my own. It’s the easiest way to change the look of an outfit while traveling and adds no weight to luggage allotments.  What better souvenir of Paris?

Alain told me a remarkable story that anyone may submit a potential design for an Hermes scarf and, if  judged worthy by a panel of in-house design experts (a daunting feat) it is put into production.  One outsider who made the grade was a postman from Texas, Kermit Oliver, whose American Indian design was not only accepted but became so popular he followed it with a series of western-themed designs for Hermes, signed by him, that are now sought by specialty collectors.

 Keeping to the theme of travel, for those who have a special interest in memorabilia from the great ocean liners of the past,  Zisul has a special display cabinet filled with nautical souvenirs and posters from the age of romantic travel.

Some of the celebrities who have left their names in the Zisul autograph book include:
Lionel Richie, Ben Harper, Donald Sutherland, Alain Ducasse, and Jackie Chan, among many others.


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How better to say "Je t’adore" on Valentines than with Parisian lingerie?

The old warning about “wear nice underwear in case you have to go to the hospital” is something Parisian women never have to worry about; they see having beautiful – and matching — lingerie as one of life’s necessities. It’s a private pleasure and one we all deserve. And what better time that Valentine’s Day to update your lingerie wardrobe – or, better yet, have someone special do it for you. Here are some top picks from our insiders’ little black books.

Since 1889, the bra was invented here by Herminie Cadolle, this legendary custom and ready to wear boutique has never been without its loyal devotees.
4 rue Cambon, 1
Métro: Concorde

Chantal Thomass
Saucy and seductive Chantal Thomass makes naughty very nice — always in luxurious fabrics.
211 rue Saint-Honoré, 1
Métro: Tuileries

Les Folies d’Elodie
The sweetest of sweet-nothings that turn every woman into a coquette.
56 ave Paul Doumer, 16
Métro: Trocadéro

Sabbia Rosa
Supernova of lingerie with clients such as Madonna, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Catherine Deneuve.
73 rue des Saints-Pères, 6
Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés


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