When you've sojourned in Paris many a time and crossed the blockbuster sights off your to-do list, it can be hard to see the ‘city of light’ in a new light. When the string of museums, Montmartre et al. are no longer enough, the French capital can actually be a veritable playground for those craving truly exclusive and unique experiences. Whether it's fashion, food, or following in the footsteps of the quintessential Parisian for a day, the options are limitless.
Bespoke Paris Picnicking by Justin Kent © Justin Kent
From charming Belle Epoque bistros to exclusive Michelin-starred eateries, Paris is well equipped to satisfy even the most discerning of gourmets – and once spring and summer come around, making the most of the great outdoors by indulging in a personalised picnic is a must. French-American chef Justin Kent, who has worked in the kitchens of prestigious Arpège, Agapé Substance, and Verjus, creates tailor-made lunch and dinner menus starring the finest seasonal produce.
Feast on traditional French fare like charcuterie, homemade quiche, crusty baguette, a delectable cheese platter from top fromagerie Marie-Anne Cantin, a summer salad drizzled in a champagne vinaigrette, and of course a fine tipple to wash it all down with. Plush pillows and a cosy picnic blanket for two are also provided, and candles, a few melodic chansons françaises and even a photo shoot to capture the moment can be arranged.
From the romance of the Champs de Mars where the Eiffel Tower dominates the view, to the intimate chic of the Parc Monceau, or the sprawling Jardin des Tuileries, Paris certainly doesn't lack picturesque spots perfect for picnicking. yourparisexperience.com
Private shopping tours
'The Parisienne' part of the tailor-made tour.
Next, meet the city's luxury craftsmen and delve into designer ateliers to discover a wealth of shopping secrets in the company of the ultimate Parisienne: French model, aristocrat and former muse of none other than Karl Lagerfeld, Inès de la Fressange. Begin with breakfast at Schiaparelli, whose showrooms are nestled on the Place Vendôme. Celebrated for her whimsical and outlandish creations, Elsa Schiaparelli was inspired by artists from the Dada and Surrealist movements and is remembered for working alongside Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.
The Roger Vivier Showroom
Meet the artisans tasked with continuing the legendary Italian couturier's legacy by taking a private tour of their workshops where visitors are treated to a sneak peek of the upcoming haute couture collection and step into the iconic designer's private apartments. Afterwards, visitors can go behind the scenes at Roger Vivier – co-creator of the stiletto heel – where a shoe and accessory wonderland awaits, before sitting down to lunch in the opulent Salle d'Argent. The tour wraps up in the heart of the historic Marais neighbourhood at the gallery of renowned interior designer Hervé van der Straeten. www.paris-unlimited.com
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Stéphanie de Bruijn at work
After food and fashion, Paris is also about scent. Paris may be far from the lavender fields of Grasse but it's still home to a myriad of illustrious perfume houses and niche fragrance créateurs that boast exclusive custom-concepts. Those seeking a defining signature blend should call upon Stéphanie de Bruijn, who specialises in parfum sur mesure (bespoke scents) at her boudoir-like boutique and fragrance lab that flanks the Left Bank’s antique stores and contemporary art galleries.
After getting to know your personal ‘scent family’ Stéphanie spends a painstaking month creating your fragrance based on your desires, dreams and lifestyle, all beautifully presented in a precious Royale de Champagne bottle accompanied by two 100ml refills – perfect for the discerning jetsetter. While many glittering brand names in French perfume are now sold all over the globe, a personalised scent is a rare jewel, one that belongs to you and only you. www.parfumsurmesure.com