Post by guest contributor : Isabel Clift is a travel writer living in London. She tweets at @Isabel_Clift
Think Parisian chic can only be done on an unlimited budget? Mais non. Once you’ve got your cheap hotel in Paris sorted, here are eight places to go for chic on cheap in the City of Love…
Photo : Jean François Gornet
La Jolie Garde-Robe
Does the thought of going into Paris’s flagship Chanel store give you the heebie-jeebies? Would riffling round Sonia Rykiel bring you out in a cold sweat? It’s Paris – naturally you want to browse homegrown designer labels, but if you don’t quite have the bank balance to back it up, La Jolie Garde-Robe is your saviour.
Living up to its name (“Pretty wardrobe”), the clothes you’ll find here are all one-of-a-kind vintage pieces. Chanel, YSL, Céline, Charles Jourdan and Hermès bits pop up regularly, alongside quality no-name items. It’s the locals’ go-to store for beautiful designer clothes for less euros than at the department stores just a few streets away. Sure, prices are more into the high-tens and hundreds than at total ‘bargain bin’ rates, but when you think about the quality and history of the clothes, this store represents great value…
15, rue Commines, Paris 3rd
Métro: Filles du Calvaire
The King of Frip
A thriftier alternative to the hallowed designer realms of La Jolie Garde-robe, the King of Frip comes stuffed with a trendy edit of second-hand threads. Providing well-loved jean jackets, lumber shirts, fur coats, Chelsea boots and leather everything for reasonable prices (think €10-30), this is the place to get your hipster basics on the cheap.
33 rue du roi de sicile
Métro: Pont Marie
Cité de la Musique
Need some sweet music in your life? The modern architectural wonder of la Cité de la Musique in La Villette Park (whose opening revitalised the 19e, a former slaughterhouse district, in the 1980s), plays host to concerts from French and international artists year-round. Venues of different sizes, built to accommodate everything from opera to indie, lie dotted around the park so you can take your pick of musical entertainment on any given night. Try Le Grande Halle – a converted 19th century cattle market – for big-deal mainstream bands and DJs, or go for edgier, more experimental sounds at the smaller La Trabendo.
Métro: Porte de Pantin
A typical neighbourhood dive bar hidden down a side street near the Pompidou centre, La Comedie keeps a very local, laidback feel in the centre of the city’s touristic Mecca. Beer and wine prices are reasonable, the tobacco-yellowed posters and low lighting give the place a cosy, artsy vibe and there’s a lovely heated terrace so you can still have a drink outside in winter – is this the perfect Paris bar? We think so!
11 Rue De La Reynie
La Butte aux Cailles
This cobbled, village-y neighbourhood in Paris’s otherwise modern 13th arrondissment is known for its Art Deco houses and quirky, independent cafes and food stores – no big chains here! Head to main streets Rue de la Butte aux Cailles and Rue des Cinq Diamants for delicious eats in an array of neighbourhood cafes. Ones to check out include the super-affordable bobo-chic Chez Gladines (30 Rue des Cinq Diamants) which specialises in filling Basque fare, and the Spanish-influenced Le temps de Cerises across the street, which is also very budget-friendly (€10-15 per person for a full menu at both).
Slightly off the beaten track in the 7th arrondissment, artsy and independent cinema la Pagode is as beautiful to look at as its history is kooky. Created in the style of a traditional Japanese pagoda, the 1896 building was originally a dance hall, built as a gift by the owner of Le Bon Marche department store to his wife. Come early before your film to enjoy a Japanese tea in the garden.
57 Bis, Rue Babylone
Metro: Saint François Xavier
Villa La Roche
Villa La Roche was designed by French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier in 1925, but looks like it could have been put together by a Grand Designs couple last week. Pristine, pure and minimalist, the house was originally built for a Swiss banker who collected avant-garde art – indeed; it convinces as a gallery as well as a home. The villa is now open as a museum to the public.
10 square du Docteur-Blanche
La Galerie des Galeries
This space on the first floor of department store Galeries Lafayette’s Galerie Cupole plays host to five new exhibitions a year. These are free, and focus on three areas: fashion, design and visual arts. It’s a great chance to see works by up-and-coming artists and designers, as well as discover unique takes on the fashion retrospective – for example last year’s Cover Girl show, which celebrated images of offbeat, ‘untypically’ beautiful women.
40, boulevard Haussmann
Metro: Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette