During the 19th century, the affluent rue Saint-Honoré started to attract young talented craftsmen whose names became the ultimate symbol of luxury. Among them were the trunk makers Louis Vuitton and Lancel, the saddler Thierry Hermès and the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin to name a few! So what’s it like to stay in Paris Mecca of luxury fashion and Haute Couture?
We pack our bags and say goodbye to the Marais and take a taxi to our second apartment in rue Saint-Honoré. Our taxi arrives depositing us at the doorstep of our new place There is a little lift, hooray! It’s only big enough for my love to squeeze in with our bags but we are very grateful not to be hauling our cases up stairs. I trot up the narrow stairs to meet him and together we find our new front door. Key in, turn and the door opens to a welcoming hallway decorated with a gorgeous wallpaper creating fantasy shelves of books. Moving through to the living space we find a gorgeous romantic space. Tall white French windows softly draped with swathes of linen.
Low simple sofas, a pair of pretty french chairs, sexy lighting and the kitchen framed with luxurious and pretty gold panelling, laser cut in a beautiful intricate design. The dining table is so pretty, rich strips of cloth draped across the table, bridging an eclectic collection of chairs, silver replica Tolix chairs and earthy timber director chairs. Completed by a gorgeous chandelier swinging low over the table. Our Marais pad was fun and quirky but this apartment is so full of romance. I just love it.
Our bedroom is a sweet little room with a real bed and a tall window overlooking a tiny central courtyard. It’s a wonderful thing after our “loft” room in the Marais, which was fun but reminded me that I am a tad over the age of 18. Once we have refreshed ourselves with a little espresso, we head back downstairs to explore our new neighbourhood.
We have everything we need right at our doorstep. Straight across the road is a cave. Cave St Honore, where magical selections of wine are available and we chat with the chain smoking propriétaire who with his fag dangling precariously from the corner of his mouth talks to us about the various options we have to choose from. We leave with a wonderful collection and hey, it’s only four steps across the street and upstairs and we tuck our wine away for later.
Back downstairs we find a gorgeous boulangerie pâtissier, Jean Noel Julien, that proves to be our regular go to, for daily bread and of course the occasional treat. There are stunningly beautiful cakes in the window and shelves of deeply warm pastries and breads further into the depths of the store. We wait in line behind a very cute little dog and his nonchalant owner. We are served soon enough and have arms full of baguette, croissant and pane raisin.
On the opposite diagonal corner is an intriguing delicatessen, Le Grandgousier. This place is filled with so many delightful treats, we point at a various things, the communication quite stilted as Madame does not have a word of english. We take a tranche of terrine and Pate, and some cheese to add to our growing collection.
Our final stop for our hunting and gathering that day is the fresh fruit and vegetable store on the next corner of the same intersection. I can’t believe we have so much wonderful choice within a few steps of our front door. We must get the big, fat, red, enticingly perfumed strawberries in the little wooden box. They look absolutely perfect and smell so …. well…strawberryish! Pretty pink blushed apples also go into our bag.
I am so excited about our shopping experience. I can’t quite explain how different the experience of shopping in Paris is to what I’m used to at home. For me there is a feeling of being close to the earth, to the growers, producers, makers of incredibly real products. Fruit and vegetables grown as nature intended and products made with integrity and honesty, honouring the source ingredients. At home there seems to be more products engineered as imagined perfected things that are really just caricatures of food. When we taste the love in each of our little treasures it is such a life giving thing.
We so enjoyed our deli treats that the next day we decided to go back to Le Grandgousier to get our evening meal. Madame recognised us and we tried to explain that our apartment was just across the way and we were staying for a while. So strange, Madame’s English skills suddenly, miraculously improved and she graciously assisted us to compile an elegant meal of roast chicken, tiny golden roast potatoes and lovely salads. We become regular visitors during our stay and Madame remained very pleased to take care of her new Australian Parisians.
We enjoy our yummy meal in our apartment that evening, watching the parisian night sky out or windows, sipping on lovely wine and flicking through the many charming books on the shelves. I lose myself in imagining living here, having a gorgeous little apartment with everything at my doorstep. I paint a little picture on my ipad to celebrate this apartment and to capture the feeling of the naked truth of being in it. Here in this apartment, here in Paris I feel pretty, soft, elegant, real, grounded like I belong. In some ways it is a confusing feeling, I have never before felt like I have belonged anywhere. On the other hand there is simply a feeling of “of course” a knowing, a clarity of understanding after 40 odd years of not knowing.
I love our little place, I love everything about Paris, I am at once very settled and weirdly slightly unsettled about feeling settled….does that make sense? There is so much newness here but at the same time a deeply spiritual sense of being home. It is a feeling I cannot quite explain.