Saint-Germain-des-Pres Paris

This is an area that is well covered in so many travel guides, but I do want to share one special place with you that stands out in a city dedicated to fashion. It is called Les Trois Marches de Catherine B – 1, Rue Guisarde Paris 6 (Tel: 01 43 54 74 18), www.catherine-b.com (Metro: Mabillon, Line 10) In fact, it is two tiny boutiques, the second one Boutique Catherine B – 3, Rue Guisarde 75006 Paris (Tel: 01 43 25 64 92) is right next door.

And there is indeed a Catherine B who is present in the shop most of the time. These two boutiques specialize in true vintage Chanel and Hermes and Catherine is probably THE world expert on Chanel and Hermes clothing and accessories.

Catherine is very quick to point out that these are not secondhand shops. “I am a fashion antiquarian” she says. She has lovingly assembled a one-of-a-kind collection of vintage Chanel and Hermes clothing and accessories and people come to her shops from all over the world. The boutiques only carry vintage, in the true sense of the word, meaning that the items come from an original or limited edition collection or that they no longer exist or are no longer produced. There is no bargain hunting at Catherine B. She buys at a high cost and also sells at a high price.

If you’ve put some money aside for a very special purchase, this may be the right place for you. But even if you have not, stop by the shop to view Catherine’s personal collection of vintage items.

When I am in the neighborhood, I like to grab a bite to eat next door at L’ane et la mule, 14, rue Guisarde, (Tel: 01 43 26 27 71), www.laneetlamule.fr. This is a “table d’hote,” where people are seated next to each other at the two long wood counters running the length of the tiny but functional space. The food is good and reasonably priced. I like the selection of cheeses and cold cuts (fromages et charcuterie). NB: The rue Guisarde is one of several streets in the area called a “rue de la soif ’ which refers to the fact that there are many bars and bistros, places to quench your thirst. (In French, “j’ai soif’ means “I am thirsty.”)

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