With haute couture week kick starting today (January 21-24), don’t forget to explore the fashion capital of the world in-between the bustle of all the shows. Not sure where to start? Here’s a handy guide to the best places to eat, shop, and relax in the City of Light.
1. Satisfy your craving for art at the Fondation Louis Vuitton
This modern art haven is built within the Bois de Boulogne, Paris’s second-largest public park. The architectural marvel houses Louis Vuitton Group CEO Bernard Arnault’s art collection. The museum has a uniquely exquisite architecture of glass tiers that soar above the greenery of the park. On the first day of couture week, be sure to visit the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition. On the last two days, the Fondation is installing an exhibition based on its impressive architectural journey.
2. Shop like a local on the Left Bank
Not too far from Jardin de Luxembourg, the Left Bank offers a quintessential Parisian shopping experience. While it is known for budget-shopping, you can also take a walk down rue St-Sulpice for a high-end experience. If you get tired after a hefty day of browsing, just relax at the gorgeous fountain of Place St-Sulpice.
3. Watch a Molière play at the Comédie-Française
Often referred to as the mother of French theatre, La Comédie-Française turns out classic theatrical performances as well as the occasional new production. Enjoy a showing of Tartuffe in the elegant Salle Richelieu, gilded in hues of red and gold to best express the decadence of it all.
4. Relax at one of the world’s most luxurious spas
The Spa de La Réserve hosts an environment of luxury, hospitality, and intimacy all at the same time. From a 16m pool with curtains for privacy to hammams and personal treatment rooms for massages and facials using the best products on the market, it’s got it all. For a star treatment, book the Très Particulier package for two, which includes a hammam session, massage, facial, and a Michelin-star brunch.
5. Enjoy tea and baklava at the city’s largest mosque
Built in the Twenties as a gesture of thanks to the Muslim soldiers who fought for France in the first world war, the breath-taking Grand Mosquée de Paris offers a truly picturesque view, with an outdoor garden filled with greenery and elegant fountains as well as lavishly decorated prayer rooms and a must-visit restaurant and café. We suggest the classic mint tea or generous amounts of couscous and tagine.
6. Revisit Arab culture at the Institut du Monde Arabe
The institute was commissioned in 1980 by 18 Arab countries to disseminate information about the Arab world. During couture week, don’t miss the exhibition Le Monde arabe vu par ses artistes, which showcases a vision of the Arab world by some of its most well-known artists. The institute also hosts a permanent exhibition of artefacts dating back to the first Islamic dynasties.
7. Catch a movie at an Egyptian temple
Le Louxor was originally a space to screen silent movies. After being left abandoned for many years, it was restored as a cinema in 2013. Fill up on house beverages and snacks while enjoying a film, and stock up on Instagram photos in the picturesque Salle Youssef Chahine.
8. Frolic among Japanese cherry trees at Jardin des Plantes
The enchanting Paris Botanical Garden is home to more than 10 000 species, tropical greenhouses and winter, rose and Alpine gardens. Initiated by Louis XIII’s doctor in the 1600s, it soon opened to the public. Enjoy trees planted in the early 17th century as well as the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, which houses more than 7 000 preserved animal specimens in a 19th century hall. Pose for a photo underneath the countless Japanese cherry trees.
9. Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant
The acclaimed Epicure showcases the culinary talents of chef Éric Fréchon, who holds three Michelin stars. His menu offers up traditionally French cuisine, with people traveling to Paris specially for this dining experience. Enjoy the chef’s signature macaroni dish stuffed with black truffle and an artichoke and duck foie gras, gratinéed with aged Parmesan. You won’t regret it.
10. Fill your stomach at a historic Parisian market
Food-lovers will adore the Marché des Enfants Rouges, which takes its name from the 16th century orphanage that used to occupy the site. Although the children’s home is long-gone, the original wooden edifice is maintained in the reopened food market, making it highly atmospheric. Fill up on a range of Italian, Lebanese, African, and Japanese delicacies. If you prefer a longer stay, visit the many artisanal and organic food stalls that can be found at every corner.