My Favorites: Vintage Shopping in Paris

Why is it that the French are painfully stylish? Every time I visit Paris (which is often) I learn something new about how to dress well and yet when I’m back in London I simply cannot replicate what I’d learnt in the city of light. The answer is simple, scattered around Paris are the most amazing vintage shops, vintage shops that are far and few in London. They’re not your typical second hand shops but true vintage boutiques. Quality items of clothing are sourced (and God knows from where because I am yet to figure out that little secret) and sold at affordable prices. By affordable I don’t mean £20 for a pair of vintage high-waist denim shorts (a la London Portobello Market) but five Euros for a pair of leather shorts or 15 Euro for a faux fur jacket. I once even scored myself a pair of cowboy boots for 5 Euro! This is why the French do fashion better.

I’ve even started doing most of my vintage shopping in Paris as it’s still much more affordable to look good on the other side of the river.

Here are my top Parisian vintage shops:

 

Free’P’Star

Everything you can possibly imagine, Free’P’Star have it. With two branches in Le Marais, you will be sorted for all of your vintage shopping needs. This is where I source out most of my vintage goods from leather satchels to faux fur coats and battered converse high tops. They also do summer discounts on winter clothes and vice versa so you can always stay ahead of fashion for half the price.

You can find Free’P’Star at these locations:

8 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie

61 rue de la Verrerie

20 rue de Rivoli

nearest metros: Hotel de Ville and Saint-Paul

check out their website:

http://www.freepstar.com/

Free'P'Star

Free’P’Star

 

Kilo Shop

Vintage Kawaii  as they call it at the Kilo Shop in Paris. Does exactly what it says on the box: choose, weight and wear. With an array of summer dresses, autumn jackets and winter boots, the Kilo Shop has various branches scattered around Paris from Le Marais to Saint-Germain and Beaubourg.

Check out their website and look book here:

http://kilo-shop.fr/fr

 

Vintage by Ramin

Another little vintage beaut in the heart of Le Marais. Check out their fantastic stock of accessories and be sure to visit the shop on a Thursday when shop ‘muse’ Yva of Paris offers her services as personal stylist to customers. If you are keen to be spoiled by your very own personal stylist for the day make sure you book in advance.

Vintage by Ramin can be found on at no. 17 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie.

Check out their rather enticing website here:

http://www.vintagebyramin.fr/

 

Chine Machine

Slightly pricier but definitely worth a visit, Chine Machine at the butte of the Sacre Couer in Montmartre houses some fantastic vintage designer goods at a decent price. The staff are super friendly and sweet too 🙂

 

You can find them hidden away on rue de Martyrs, take rue la Vieuville and follow it up on the right side.

Nearest metro: Abbesses

Check out their blog here:

http://www.chinemachinevintage.com/

 

And there are plenty more to discover, especially in Le Marais. Enjoy!

 

 

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Why I always choose AirBnB over hotel rooms

Airbnb

Most of us aren’t quite fortunate enough to stay in five star luxury hotels. The cheaper alternative surely then is booking with Airbnb…

Airbnb is a virtual space in which hosts can advertise their spare rooms/studios/entire apartments or houses to travellers across the globe. The company started off small but now have an international following of hosts and guests, a community of like minded people who would pick staying among the locals over a centrally located hotel any day.

So how does it all work? The host posts a space on the Airbnb website, with pictures. Guests select their preferences using the search engine by price, size, location and appearance, contact the host, arrange suitable dates and time, book and pay. Simple as 1,2,3.

I have been using Airbnb for the past couple of years and since I started I haven’t looked at another cheap hotel room. Here’s why:

 

1. I can select the exact location that I want to stay in

Whether I want to wake up at the foot of Montmartre, opposite the Colosseum or a brisk walk away from the Empire State Building I have that choice. Most hotels are based around the centre of town or near busy train stations which makes it noisy and expensive (which I will get to in my next point). I’d much rather be settled in a communal area where I can have my morning coffee in a local cafe or have a glass of wine in a bar locals head to after work.

 

2. Price

It is much cheaper to rent through Airbnb. This summer I rented an entire studio apartment a stone’s throw from the Sacre Coeur with a friend. The cost… something along the lines of £15 ($25) per night for an apartment in which we had our own space and privacy with a kitchen where we could cook our own dinner (which really helped to save on eating out).

 

3. Host

How nice it is to have flexible check in and out times, not having to wait or rush and to have a host who’s prepared an itinerary for you. In Copenhagen I was very kindly given guide books, a map and some really good advice on what to do and what to not bother wasting my time with. My host understood my passion for architecture and instead of suggesting Contemporary Art galleries or designer shops he pointed me towards vintage markets and churches, neat.

 

4. Honesty

No more false advertising only to find that my hotel room has cockroaches, no windows or a broken shower. Hotels can put you in any room they want to, not necessarily the one you looked at on their website. With Airbnb you get what you pick. Reviews by previous guests also helped in the selection process. If you don’t like the reviews, you don’t book.

 

5. Little treats

Hosts always provide little treats, it is sooooo nice to turn up to chocolates, cheese, nutella, champagne, good coffee etc. Of course I either bring small gifts from London or restock the fridge as a thank you in return. This is a little extra touch you don’t get at a cheap hotel.

 

6. Friendship

It’s nice to make friends with the locals – your host is the locals. I’ve made friends with the hosts of the places I’ve stayed in. When I visit Paris I make sure I pop round to Matthieu’s flat to say hello. He introduces me to new bars (though recently I’ve been introducing him to a few) and this just starts a chain reaction of meeting new people.

 

Of course, as with all things in life, you have to be wise when using Airbnb. The website offer plenty of advice on how to travel safely and how to pick the right place to stay as unfortunately there is always be one not so nice person who spoils all the fun. So some words of advice to those considering using Airbnb for their next trips:

 

1. Select wisely

Take your time to carefully look through your options. Look at the images carefully, make sure they are all of the same place. Do some background research on the neighborhood (Airbnb even help with this), don’t pick a cheap room in the middle of nowhere just to save on a couple of Euros.

 

2. Reviews

Read the reviews. If the person has a lot of negative reviews (broken toilet seats, not hospitable, no towels etc…) think twice. If the person do not have many reviews and you are traveling on your own then use your head. When traveling alone I make sure I stay at a place owned either by a woman or a couple, or somewhere that has plenty of reviews by women.

 

3. Contact

Do not just book in a rush. Contact your host first. I always throw a few messages back and forth asking my host questions about their life, job, hobbies etc. This builds up a bit of a relationship, especially if you are renting a room within a house and not the entire apartment on your own.

 

4. If you don’t feel right, don’t do it.

Use your instincts people.

 

And there you have it. I hope you consider using Airbnb after reading my review.

 

For more information on Airbnb visit here.

 

South of the River – the 6eme

I have never been a south of the river kind of girl. I grew up in north London, I have family in north-eastern Italy and I dream of planning a road trip around Scandinavia. For a girl who regularly visits Paris, I have hardly spent time further south than the Ile de la Cité. Last week I decided to give a little TLC to that which is south of the Seine. I always knew that the south of Paris, the 6eme and surrounding areas, were ‘a little bit posh’ and maybe this is why I prefer to spend my time in areas such as Montmartre, Le Marais and Oberkampf.

The beautiful thing about Paris for me is its subtlety in architecture, uniform white lines and blocks which seem to run for miles. Walls appear clean and light reflects givings the impression of sheer scale even on the most overcast of days.

Pretty Streets of Saint Germain des-Prés

Pretty Streets of Saint Germain des-Prés

So I began my south of the river adventure in at St. Michel, from the metro stop I followed east towards Saint Germain des-Prés where I encountered pretty backstreets with even prettier boutiques, including the regulars: Petit Bateau and Louis Vuitton and, some independents too. M. Poncini Arts et Bijoux’s beautiful display windows caught my eye. The boutique can be found at 147 Boulevard St. Germain

All the Pretty Things. M. Poncini Arts et Bijoux.

All the Pretty Things. M. Poncini Arts et Bijoux.

And I got a little church action when accidentally bumping into the absolutely beautiful Church of Saint Sulpice in the Luxembourg Quarter.

Saint-Sulpice

Saint-Sulpice

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And of course the beautiful Jardin Luxembourg which astonishes me whatever the weather. I shall definitely be crossing that river again soon…

Jardin Luxembourg

Jardin Luxembourg

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