Paris is the perfect place to treat yourself to a little decadent holiday cheer. Whether or not you belong to a wealthy Manhattanite family like the one in Woody Allen’smusical comedy, there are still ways to spend an indulgent Christmas in Paris with luxury treats that don’trequire remortgaging your home.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to cover a suite at the legendary hotel, spending an afternoon at its tea salon gets you in the door at a fraction of the price. There’s a fireplace, plush sofas and comfortable armchairs where you can relax with teas and delectable bite-sized pastries conceived by head pastry chef François Perret, all while being pampered by the impeccably trained Ritz staff.
Place Vendôme may be home to the biggest names in high-end jewelry, but it’s also where you’ll find a new generation of jewelers with a fresh, idiosyncratic style. A trained engineer who fell in love with fine jewelry, Lorenz Bäumer has gained a loyal following that includes Princess Charlene of Monaco, who wore the designer’s sea-spray-inspired tiara to her wedding in 2011. Although Bäumer’s nature-inspired statement pieces can easily fetch six figures, his more understated lines, like Écriture and Battement de Coeur, are equally as quirky and surprisingly affordable.
The bling-less statement handbag
Stepping into Verbreuil’s quirky boutique – a sliver of real estate wedged against the side of Saint Roch’s church, just off Rue Saint Honoré – is like stepping back in time, when shopping in Paris meant buying one-of-a-kind, discreetly luxurious pieces. The brand’s signature La Gare design is a minimalist masterpiece of geometry, where triangular shapes are combined to create a bag that comfortably sits against the body, without any visible hardware or – heaven forbid – logos. La Gare, as well as Verbreuil’s other models, like the graceful Canoun and the minimalist Tranicq, can be made to order in any kind of leather, ranging from calfskin to crocodile, and any color.
Buly 1803’s Pommade Virginale face cream, monogrammed scented soaps and natural beauty remedies from the farthest corners of the planet have gained an international cult following. All the products are personally sourced by the founders, husband-and-wife team Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac, who scour the world to discover age-old beauty secrets and tools and display them at their apothecary-like boutique on the Left Bank. To complement the dizzying array of beauty remedies, the Touhamis have developed a range of skincare products and water-based fragrances developed in France and exquisitely packaged in retro containers with handwritten labels. All formulas are devoid of modern-day chemical preservatives and alcohol, which may interfere with natural aromas.
If you are shopped out and need to perk up with quality caffeine in the heart of Paris but away from the capital’s buzz, head to Café Kitsuné. Located in the serene and chic Jardin du Palais Royal, the café is an offshoot of edgy fashion label Maison Kitsuné. As well as specialty coffee, tea, juice, gluten-free cakes and fox-shaped cookies (kitsune means fox in Japanese), this tiny gem of a café serves one of the best matcha lattes in town and has undoubtedly one of the best views.