Paris In A Day – Olfactoria Travels Again

For my last birthday, my dear husband surprised me with the (to be honest somewhat uncharacteristically) romantic idea to go to Paris for a weekend. Of course I was raring to go. I am almost ashamed to admit that I had never been to Paris before, so it was especially nice to get there at last before that ominous mark of turning 40 next year. Somehow it seemed important to me to manage to do some things before that day.

The boys were happy with our lovely long-time sitter, so we happily left Vienna behind on Friday morning.

We arrived at our hotel at 2pm and it turned out that 2pm was also the time we would have to leave the next day to catch our flight back home. So we had exactly 24 hours in a city that offers enough beauty to last a lifetime.

We were staying close to the Place Vendome on rue de Mont Thabor and it proved to be a very good location to venture out from.

hotel vendome

The Marriot Renaissance Hotel Vendome

That first afternoon we set out with only the haziest of plans, because we wanted to just look, experience and walk without a strenuous schedule. We wandered along boulevard Haussmann, ambled through Galeries Lafayette and Printemps (stocking up on Tom Ford foundation and smelling some niche perfumes, though nothing particularly stood out), then we found our way to the most important address on my personal agenda: 24 rue de Faubourg St. Honoré.

hermes 24 faubourg

The Hermès flagship store is overun by tourists and therefore especially the ground floor feels a bit hectic. But we found a wonderfully helpful SA on the calmer first floor, Marco Marri Manetti, who assisted me in my quest for one thing that I have been really coveting for months now – a pareo (also to be worn as a big format scarf) called Mythiques Phoenix in Bleu Minuit.

Photo by MaiTai

Photo  of the 90×90 silk scarf of the same design and colorway by MaiTai

They actually had my pareo in their window, but if you know Hermès, you know that you cannot have stuff out of the window (it would destroy the carefully though out art of window decoration I assume). So the lovely and extremely helpful Marco looked everywhere, he looked some more, but still he came up empty. In the whole of Europe this lovely piece of cloth seemed sold out.

When we were almost out the door, he caught up with us and told us he had found one in the avenue George V store right here in Paris, but when he called he was told it was reserved for someone else already. Very disappointed we went on, but the beauty of Paris and the gorgeous weather leaves no room even for Hermès related doom and gloom.

Our next destination was the Palais Royal and the boutique within that Perfumistas the world over dream of visiting – Serge Lutens. It was as dark, as purple, as hushed as imagined. The SA’s were very nice and left us alone while sniffing the provided mouilettes. The spiral staircase is truly impressive indeed.

serge lutens

We then enjoyed our walk home to the hotel where we changed and went out for dinner.

Dinner was a very noble affair. We had made reservations at 1 Place Vendome because we had heard of the excellent cuisine there. The restaurant is gorgeous, it looks like it could have been decorated by Christian Dior himself.

1 place vendome

We had the Menu Dégustation, and each and every one of the six courses was nothing short of fantastic (and we are quite critical when it comes to fine dining!). Slightly tipsy from the pink champagne and stuffed to the gills with delicious food we went for a stroll after dinner to walk off at least a few of those calories.

Our stroll led us into the famous rue Cambon, which proved to be just around the corner. We longingly looked up at the windows of Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment above her first boutique.

31-rue-cambon

The cafés on every corner are very inviting, so we sat down for a nightcap. It was the evening of the Football World Cup match France vs. Germany and unfortunately the French lost, which made for a bit of a sad and dejected atmosphere that night. But again we just could not let ourselves be distracted from feeling high on life and utterly happy to be where we were.

The next morning after breakfast at our hotel, we ventured out again, this time with a plan: Hermès at avenue George V was on our agenda. To go there we walked along the Champs Elysées (already being readied for Bastille Day on July 14, the French workers are either very conscientious or very slow), we bought cute Mickey Mouse bathing suits for the boys at the Disney Store (they are a bit obsessed with the Disney Store – there is none in Vienna – so they always ask for a souvenir from there, no matter what city we are in) and marveled at the architecture and grandeur of Paris.

The Hermès store at ave George V is very nice. Smaller, less crowded and we got lucky. The one pareo in the Mythiques Phoenix design apparently left in Europe was no longer reserved and waiting for us. The Bleu Lagon is not the colorway I wanted in the first place, but I am still extremely happy with it. You can imagine the swing in my step when we walked out.

My scarf drawer with the folded Mythiques Phoenix in Bleu Lagon on the left.

My scarf drawer with the folded Mythiques Phoenix in Bleu Lagon on the left. The light blue gavroche on the right shows the Hermès store on 24 rue de Faubourg St Honoré.

We crossed the Seine into St Germain de Prés and walked along the Quai d’Orsay. Walking along the boulevard Raspail we “happened” upon the third Hermès store on Rue de Sévres (so no accident, my dears! ;) ).

This is the most beautiful store of the three. It has been renovated a few years back and focuses on the Hermès home line. The decoration is truly awe-inspiring and even my husband was very glad we saw this as we felt it honored the flair and feel of this luxury house best.

Hermes Rue de Sevres photo (65)

Crossing back over the river at Pont Royal, we had a great lunch of Steak frites (for him) and carpaccio (for me) close to the Tuileries. A final stroll through the neighborhood there revealed Colette, a depot-vente (a second hand store) that seemed very interesting and a final cup of espresso at a corner café.

We had to leave for the airport at 2pm again. Those 24 hours felt very short and very long at the same time.

You might say, well you didn’t do anything but run to the maximum amount of Hermès stores?! You know what? I loved it!

I know this was only my first time of many in Paris. It is a city where I felt at home right away, it is very much like Vienna, so I felt very safe there. I know I will be back, and I know I will get to know this city well. It felt perfectly okay to not do all the sightseeing, all the touristy stuff, all the culture… it would not have fitted in the timeframe and would just have left us dissatisfied and inefficient. So we didn’t even try, we just went with what we wanted and it was a great day.

P.S.: There are two more Hermès stores at Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport. ;)

terre tres fraiche

P.P.S.: No perfume? you ask. Fret not, we did get our share of fragrant goodies at the airport. A his’n’hers Hermès package of Terre d’Hermès Eau Trés Fraiche for him (a fabulous citrus scent for summer, I’m stealing it all the time!) and Eau de Mandarine Ambrée for me. Ah, thank goodness, I hear you say, she has not completely lost it…

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50 Responses to Paris In A Day – Olfactoria Travels Again

  1. Sandra says:

    You packed in a good amount B! Fabulous 24 hours. I love that you went to the Hermes stores – I have to go to at least one on every trip. Lovely memories that you have. Xo

  2. Ines says:

    I love it that you feel at home in Paris! :)
    (I do too) ;)
    That said, I know I will be going back there throughout my life – it calls to me.

    I will not comment on your Hermes obsession though.
    I’ll just say – you didn’t visit the newly renovated Guerlain store? ;)

    • Olfactoria says:

      I somehow missed it in the heat of the moment, after the Disney Store, which is not far away at all, we somehow overlooked it and then there was no time to go back! (I blame the workers who erected barriers all over the place…)

  3. What a wonderful story Birgit,
    I’m so happy you enjoyed your 24 hours. Happy Birthday
    Portia xx

  4. Lyubov says:

    OMG, Birgit, the pareo and your scarf drawer, OMG! Words fail me…
    I was sure that 24 rue de Faubourg St. Honoré would be your first stop there. Next time visit Jovoy and Musee d’Orsay!

  5. Tatiana says:

    It sounds like it was a perfect 24 hours. I think you were wise to not try to cram too much in. Happy Birthday!

  6. annemariec says:

    Much better not to cram too much into just 24 hours. You want to remember more than just a blur. The pareo will be something to cherish. Do you spritz your scarves with perfume, by the way? I generally don’t, especially if they are silk.

    • Olfactoria says:

      No, I don’t ever apply perfume directly to a scarf. I don’t think it is good for silk, also I do tend to change perfumes quite a bit, but who am I telling that! ;)

  7. Asali says:

    It sounds like you had the best possible use of your 24h, I am very happy for you:-) The scarf especially in the blue/white is gorgeous. Although, like Ines, I need to say; What! No 68 Champs Elysée ???

  8. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Sounds like a trip full of events but still relaxed.
    This thing with you & Hermes – can it be called as obsession already ;-) ?
    (I’ve never really clicked with Paris, it might be due to the lack of common language though…)

  9. Vanessa says:

    I heartily endorse your Hermes hopping holiday. I once spent an afternoon playing Monopoly in the foyer of a hotel on the Via Veneto in Rome. It felt a bit subversive, but like the thing to do at the time.

    Loving those rattan helicoidal wotsits! (I may have made that word up). Great perf choices at the airport – I read good things of the first one just yesterday in fact.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, V. I love the idea of you playing monopoly in Rome! Sometime you gotta do what you gotta do!

      The rattan wotsits resemble yurts in my opinion and they are amazing. Not a single piece of metal, not even the smallest screw was used to build them, they are entirely made of wood.

  10. What a fun adventure. Thanks for taking us along!

  11. Sabine says:

    It’s great that you did what you wanted to do instead of following a guide book’s :’If you only have 1 day” advice. Whether it’s hunting for a scarf or playing Monopoly, those moments will be forever in your memory. For all the rest that Paris has to offer: a 40th birthday weekend is just the thing, don’t you think?

  12. Tara says:

    This was the next best thing to being there. Thanks so much for this lovely report and fab pics. That restaurant is very Dior!

    Too funny that we all tried to pack so much into our answers on Monday but you did absolutely the right thing and just soaked up the city.

    Great to read you finally got your pareo (it was meant to be) and your perfect his and her’s fragrance picks at the airport (I’m very happy you love Eau de Mandarine Ambree too).

    Guerlain and other sights give you something to look forward to next time you go.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Exactly, there need to be some highlights for the next time. ;)

      I’m so happy with my pareo, it is a big indulgence, I know, but I think it is a wearable piece of art.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Birgit, having a whirlwind, Hermes love affair in Paris sounds pretty darn perfect to me. Plus, I think you very much did enjoy some of Paris’s other finer things too: I loved seeing that restaurant where you had dinner. Could there be a more chic place on earth? It does indeed look like it was decorated by Christian Dior himself.

    Thank you for sharing your fabulous getaway with us! So happy for you. xxoo

  14. anitathepianist says:

    Dear Birgit, I enjoyed reading about your trip. It has been several years since I was there. My main goal was seeing the Rodin Museum and the Guerlain shop. I was able to find both fairly easily. My spoken French is not very fluent, but even the effort to speak it was appreciated by all the people I met, including a charming gendarme who helped me find Rodin. I went home with a bag full of Guerlain’s bath and body products that I couldn’t find in Miami. Next time, I’m searching for
    Hermès.

  15. Anka says:

    Mon Dieu, what a wonderful trip, I immensely enjoyed reading your travelogue and watching these amazing pictures! (My 10 ml vintage bottle of Diorissimo has a banderole in that black and white pattern of the chairs at Place Vendome).
    I’ve only been to Paris once and unfortunately this was long before I became addicted to perfume sniffing. It’s good to hear that even 24 hours are worth a trip.
    Btw, I am quite happy that France lost the football game, hehe…

    • Olfactoria says:

      You must be quite happy that Brazil lost to Germany too! :)
      I’m glad you enjoyed my slightly Hermès-centric post. Paris is definitely worth the trip, even if it is a very short one.

  16. laniersmith says:

    How utterly and absolutely fabulous!

  17. hajusuuri says:

    Wowzer! Thanks for sharing your 24 hours! That’s an improvement over my 8 hours there August of last year :-)

  18. Safran says:

    Love your trip review! You’re the most charming Hermes ambassador I could think of, they should offer you a job very soon!

  19. Farouche says:

    What a marvelous 24 hours you had! And you did many of the same things that I did last September in Paris (especially Hermes) ;-)

  20. Figuier says:

    What a wonderful birthday present – and I love the Hermes scarf/pareo!! Paris is indeed an amazing place to just potter or “flaner,” look at shops, sit in cafes, people watch. It was the very first place DH & I went on holiday together: in winter, in the rain, but we walked *everywhere*, getting soaked while soaking up the sights, & spent our shoestring budget on coffee, pastries, wine, & steak-frites. It’s such a great place to be a couple…

    • Olfactoria says:

      It certainly is! I’m so glad we went there and that we both felt the magic of the city and were equally entranced.
      Glad you have wonderful memories of Paris too, Figuier!

  21. Jassy says:

    Lovely review! I am visiting Paris soon and can’t wait to check out all the flagship fragrance stores there!

  22. Julie Price says:

    Oh, Birgit, what a wonderful, quick, romantic trip! I read every word of this post with delight. I must say, “great job” to The Husband. I think that maybe one day, we will meet at an international dental meeting. We only go to the good ones now, like San Francisco, or Honolulu, etc. Please let me know when Dr. O and yourself travel to the US, or Canada, or South America for a meeting. I know it is hard to travel with two small boys, but it will help their English, yes? Yes.

    Thank you for describing your trip in such detail. I’m glad that you did exactly what you wanted to on your trip! Hermes, for the win! xx

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi dear Julie!
      So lovely to hear from you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post, the husband really did well. ;)
      We actually go to the Greater New York Dental Meeting in November in NYC. But it is around Thanksgiving which probably is not a good time for Americans to travel…
      It would be lovely to meet you one day. I’m all for Honolulu! :D
      xxx

      • Julie Price says:

        Hi Birgit! Oh, the meeting in November? Which hotel do you like to stay in? Thanksgiving IS a difficult time to travel in the US. The airline fares are really expensive, around that time of year. Tentatively, we are meeting friends in Eleuthera, Bahamas for Thanksgiving, but if that changes, we would love to come to New York, and have my family meet your family (if the boys come). Jessica (she’s 19 now!) has never been to NYC, and she is pestering us for a trip! I am going next week, July 20-25, for perfume sniffing/shopping with some friends, staying in midtown area. Do you need anything from Osswald, MinNY, or Bergdorfs? I can mule some perfume for you, and would be happy to ship to Vienna. Just let me know!

        I will be avoiding the Hermès boutique. ;) I want a Birkin handbag so badly, but El Hub will not go for it. He thinks it’s outrageous! I think it’s art, or like a really high-end automobile (his weakness). Maybe Santa will bring me one, one year…….The waiting list is so long, I would probably buy second-hand. The bags are so well made; they last a lifetime with good care, and I could give it to Jessica! OK, sorry to be so off topic. Take care, and kiss all those boys for me. xx

        P.S. Who will inherit your Hermès scarf collection? Maybe the boy’s wives, or, you know, me! ;) <3 <3

        • Olfactoria says:

          Hermès is never off topic on this blog, Julie! ;)
          I’m not yet forty so thinking about who will inherit my scarves makes me rather queasy… they will find a good place I’m sure of that.

          Thanks for offering to play the perfume mule, but for now I’m good.

          Maybe we’ll meet in Nov after all. Email me, when you know more…
          Hugs.

          • Julie Price says:

            You are a baby! I’m sorry I made you feel queasy. I have been very ill, so I’ve thought about these things more than others. I apologize, please do forgive me. Let’s look forward to November, and I will email you when the time gets closer. Thanks for being so gracious, and kind, and always welcoming to me, even when I’ve not been around.

            Hug and kisses back to you. xoxoxo

  23. What a beautiful 24 hours! Your first time in Paris should be beautiful and it sounds like you had a wonderful, wonderful time!

    And that pareo? Gorgeous and meant to be yours! Happy Birthday, dear Birgit!

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