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Paris - fashion streets paved with gold

Chantel Thomass boutique on rue Saint-Honoré
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The Faubourg Saint-Honoré is the ultimate fashion address in Paris. It is where international designers aspire to be and global standards of luxury are set.  The distance, from Place des Ternes, along rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and rue Saint-Honoré, through the Place Vendôme and up rue de la Paix to the Opéra Garnier, is barely two miles. But these streets, and the smaller lanes running off them, are lined with some of the world's most instantly recognizable luxury brands.


It starts off modestly enough. A few cafés, some pharmacies, an art gallery and furniture store or two; but southeast of Avenue Hoche, designer boutiques and extremely chic home furnishings shops signal the start of an extraordinary retailing scene.


The big guns of couture line up between Elysée Palace, official residence of the President of France, and Place de la Madeleine, where the most exclusive food and drink dealers in Paris are clustered. Chloé has luxury ready-to-wear at no. 54-56. Numbers 32 and 38 are Yves Saint-Laurent, 28 is Givenchy, 24 is the giant Hermès flagship store, 22 is Lanvin and 21 is Chanel. A little further along you'll find Dolce & Gabbana at number 3 and Missoni at number 1. 


Cross rue Royale and the avenue changes its name to rue Saint-Honoré, dropping the "Faubourg" but not dropping anything where fashion is concerned. Gucci occupies number 350 and Colette at 213 is one of the trendiest retailers in Paris. This must-see, high concept store sells fashions for men and women, personal electronics and jewellery, all against a background of throbbing contemporary music. Stop in the shop's café for a light bite while you watch the fashion parade pass by. Or refresh yourself at Colette's world famous water bar.


The capital of jewellery


The concentration of jewellers in Place Vendôme could just take your breath away.  A statue of Napoleon looks down on the vast, early 18th century square from a column (modeled on Trajan's column) in the center. The legendary Paris Ritz Hotel fills one side of the square. The other three sides can only be described as the capital of jewellery, being home to the flagship boutiques of Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Chaumet, Bulgari, Patek-Philippe, Mikimoto, Buccellati, Fred Joailleur, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier as well as the jewelry boutiques of Chanel and Dior.