Saint Germain des Près, the area of Paris that covers the 6th and 7th arrondissements, embodies everything I love about Paris - the creative fashion, boutiques, antique shops and vibrant cafe culture. For me, a perfect day in Paris is to shop on the left bank, sit in a cafe and then grab a crepe or sandwich and picnic on the Pont des Arts, a bridge that crosses the Seine and offers some of the best views of the city. Here are some of my picks for shopping and eating on the left bank.
Antik Batik (20 rue Mabillon). This is where I go for scarves - I think Antik Batik has the most beautiful designs in the city. Here you will also find brilliant embellished and colorful kaftans and tunics that can be worn with a slip in the city or over your swimsuit on the beach.
Le Bon Marche (22 Rue de Sèvres). Let's say you have only one day to shop in Paris - this is where you go. Le Bon Marche has mini-boutiques of all the best clothing designers, a fantastic shoe department, a gourmet food market, a great kids department for clothes and toys, stationary, bath and home items and pretty much every beauty product (make-up to hair care) worth having.
Eres (4 bis, rue du Cherche-Midi) for bathing suits.
Iris (28 rue de Grenelle) for shoes by Chloe, Veronique Branquinho and Marc Jacobs.
Isabel Marant (1 rue Jacob). Here is the thing about Isabel Marant - I have been shopping here for nearly ten years and I still wear every piece I have ever bought from this store. Isabel Marant's ethnic-influenced designs are equally classic - and of the moment.
Jerome Dreyfuss (1 rue Jacob). French handbag designer Jerome Dreyfuss is known for his organic and understated leather bags (including the cross body bag featured last week). This new store, his first, is situated right next door to his wife Isabel Marant's store on rue Jacob.
Monoprix (50 rue de Rennes). Yes, it is the grocery store but it has so much more. Here you can pick up great beauty items like Elnett Hairspray and Roche-Posay skincare, children's clothes, linens for the home - all at very reasonable prices.
Kiwi St. Tropex (38 rue de Grenelle). I stop in here every visit to Paris to pick up cute bathing suits for my daughters. They have colorful tropical-print suits for children and adults (men and women), tunics and hats and they are all heavily discounted during the winter months.
L'École des Loisirs (11 rue de Sèvres) for children's books, music and toys. I lived in an apartment above this store for three months and would stop in regularly to read children's books to practice my French. Now I buy gifts and books for my own children here.
Sabbia Rossa ( 73 Rue des Sts.-Peres) for gorgeous lingerie.
Barthélémy (51, rue de Grenelle) - My favorite fromagerie in Paris. Even if you don't buy it is worth a visit for the experience.
La Creperie des Cannettes (10 rue des Cannettes) for traditional Brittany crepes.
Cafe Conti (Intersection of rue de Buci/rue Mazarine/rue Daphine) is a casual cafe situated on a five-street intersection that is busy day and night and offers some of the best people watching in the city.
Coffee Parisienne (4 rue Princesse) This is a classic New York Diner filled with locals. It is great for people watching - how great you ask? Last time I ate here I dined an arms length from Johnney Depp. And if that does not sell you - the cheeseburger is great.
L'Epi Dupin (11, rue Dupin). This place is always busy and requires reservations weeks in advance. The food is always great, the service excellent and chef François Pasteau is considered to be one of the best young chefs in the city.
Fish (69, rue de Seine) is filled with Americans, true, but every meal I have had in this restaurant was spectacular. The owner, Juan, is the real deal - he know French wine. He also owns the wine store -La Derniere Goute (6 Rue de Bourbon Le Chateau) - down the street where you can pick up every wine in the restaurant to take home.
Gérard Mulot (76, rue de Seine). The bread, the sandwiches, the tarts, pastries and croissants - all sublime.
La Palette (43 rue de Seine) is one of the oldest cafes in France - traditional and lively until all hours of the night.
Poilâne (8 rue du cherche-midi). This famous bread maker, open since 1932, offers the most beautiful loaves of bread and butter cookies to die for. On this recent trip I picked up cookies in the shape of spoons - perfect for chocolat.
Le Timbre (3, rue Sainte Beuve). This small restaurant serves traditional French food by a two person staff.
Villa Medici da Napoli (11 bus, rue Saint Placide) is great for lunch if you are craving authentic Italian.
Le Voltaire (27 quai Voltaire) is a chic bistro on the river that serves a classic breakfast and lunch menu.