Right Bank, Left Bank
By LESLIE ADRIAN
A WILDE surmise was that good Americans go to Paris when they die, but Paris cannot be des- cribed as the happy hunt- ing ground for the British, good or bad. For so many items, says my Paris expert, London is more rewarding and more pleasant.
1.■ The central city around the Opera has the famous department stores, especially Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps, both with basements stuffed with kitchen gadgets, clothes, perfumes, toiletries and gew-gaws. Do not expect such an expedition to be relaxing: the crowds are dense, the service brusque, the parking impossible. For quieter shopping, but far less choice, try Aux Trois Quartiers and Samaritaine de Luxe (both somewhat staid). Brentano's carries a large selection of English and French titles for your holiday reading. The Rue Tronchet, between the Madeleine and the Gare St. Lazare, contains several shops, notably Vog and Madd, stocking inexpensive and medium-priced 'Elle-style' women's clothes.
A good right-bank shopping street is the Rue de Passy (one way from Muette). At the Muette end, Franck et Fils offers several floors of quality ready-to-wear women's clothes and accessories starting at moderate prices. Farther down there are boutiques, for men as well as for women, and a famous old patisserie (Coquelin Aine).
The Avenue Victor-Hugo, off Etoile, is an elegant, Knightsbridge-type shopping centre for men's wear, including sports clothes and shoes, leather goods and interior decoration items in traditional taste. The perspective is the best thing about the Champs-Elysees, but a glance into the large Prisunic near the Rond-Point may turn up a gay, cheap frock or a tee-shirt. Other branches of the same store, or its practically indistinguish- able competitors, Monoprix and Uniprix, are unavoidable. In the Rue la Boetie, running be- hind the Champs-Elysées (one way from Place St. Augustine) is La Solderie (No. 85), where all the celebrated brands in ready-to-wear women's clothes can be bought cheaply. Jean Luce is good for modern glass and china and La Demeure, just around the corner in the Rue Cambaceres, for modern tapestries and costume jewellery.
The main left-bank shopping centre is an arc from the Bon Marche department store (said to be the oldest of its kind and still preserving some- thing of the atmosphere of a country general store) to the Odeon Metro station. In the Rue de Sevres opposite the Bon Marche and farther along towards the Rue du Four there are several chic boutiques. Sevres 33 (at No. 33) sells leading brands of knitwear at bargain prices. Casual men's wear, Italian style, is sold at the bottom of the Rue de Rennes, near the Boulevard Saint- Germain, and on this Boulevard itself (one way towards Boulevard Saint-Michel) before reaching Odeon metro station. The streets between the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the river of course contain a large concentration of antique shops (very expensive), art galleries (also for prints, chiefly in the Rue de Seine), book and record shops (Pan, Rue Jacob, for classical music). Wallpaper and matching drapes in toile de Jouy, Provencal and other designs from Nobilis (29 Rue Bonaparte).
The great couturiers (Dior, for example) sell off clothes worn by their models in their back premises at half-price or less. Choses and Vachon of Saint-Tropez fame now have Paris outlets at Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. For families, baby-sitters from Operation Biberon (Tel. ODEon 25.44): they will send a medical student. Nappies can be rented from the American Diaper Service (Tel. VAL d'Or 78.91). In central Paris, most dry-cleaners provide a 24- hour service and the several branches of Talon- Minute repair heels while you wait. At the Caves de la Tour Eiffel (entrance, 5 Square Ch.-Dickens, 16e) practically every French wine can be sampled and bought. Perfumes, gloves, luxury handbags and men's accessories from Michel Swiss (16 rue de la Paix), a madhouse worth frayed nerves for discounts up to 40 per cent, on traveller's cheques. These valuable instruments of credit will procure 20 per cent discounts on purchase tax in most shops.
But watch your shopping times. On Saturday afternoons, everything is open and crowded. Many food shops and markets operate on Sunday mornings, but on Mondays, most of Paris is closed (including most department stores and all butchers). While more shops and restaurants stay open during August than used to be the case, it is still a month in which you will have to take pot luck.
For further information and a free list of addresses, send a stamped addressed envelope to Leslie Adrian at the Spectator, 99 Gower Street, London, WCI.