Being at Paris fashion week may sound all kinds of glamorous to people that don’t work in the industry but, being my third season in, I can tell you it is pretty hard work. I know, I know, total first world problems and hey I love my job which enables me to be in Paris during the week of shows, mostly to be found backstage capturing our agency’s amazing talents in action, but fashion week month also means having basically no weekends (I was remotely covering shows), running around town from early morning until late evening, trying to do your office job at the same time, somehow attempting to dress nice, constantly socialising and fundamentally surviving on barely any sleep.
For those that don’t know, Paris is at the end of the fashion week circle, preceded by New York, London and Paris and boy you can tell - everyone from fashion editors to agents to models look exhausted yet there is something magical about the industry hanging out in the French capital with the end of the season in sight.
Somehow a diet of champagne, bread and French fries keeps everyone alive for the last stretch of fashion madness and it is quite funny to see Paris overrun by the best and worst of the fashion world. I dragged myself onto my Eurostar back on a rainy Monday, utterly hungover, bloated and ready to sleep for 24 hours straight but heck I am already looking forward to February when it will be time for AW20 because somehow Paris is even more special, crazy and unique during fashion week and I am grateful I got to be part of it.
Of course this being my third time I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way which helped me get through the week and which I hope will even be helpful to those just checking out Paris for a city break!
FIND A GOOD PLACE TO STAY @ 25HOURS HOTELTERMINUS NORD
Vienna and Dusseldorf hotels as well). I am big fan of their small chain of hotels across major European cities and love their concept of offering boutique hotel style accommodation at affordable prices, and I am happy to report that their Paris outpost did not disappoint!
It is right next door to Gare du Nord station, and with next door I mean you can literally jump into the Eurostar from your hotel window if you really tried. While that means you are about a 25 minute walk from the most hip and happening part of Paris, the Marais, and the area around the station isn’t the nicest, it is super, super convenient to be so close to the Eurostar terminal, especially if like in my case you have a cocktail party the night before you have a 9am train back to London - I literally woke up, shut my suitcase and within a five minute turnaround made it onto the train, not looking my most elegant but on time nonetheless.
What is even better rather than the usually pretty grim hotels you get by main train stations and airports, the 25hours Terminus Nord is as stylish as their other locations I have visited. There is a slightly exotic theme across the rooms, taking inspiration from the multi-cultural mix of shops and restaurants from Africa and South East Asia in the area around the station, and I adored the rich red tones and tapestry details in my room.
Fixtures are of the top notch quality I have grown to love at all 25hours hotels which is really impressive considering the room price range (starting from….for a single room). The breakfast buffet, served in a very Wes Anderson-esque dining space, think plush pink velvet chairs, marble tables and quirky wall paper, was outstanding. Smoked salmon, French toast, amazing freshly baked breads and even Cremant for those brave enough to tackle bubbles in the early hours.
Once again I really cannot recommend this 25hours hotel enough. It’s stylish, affordable and with the perfection location if you are travelling by Eurostar, a little haven to recover and recuperate after a day of running around in Paris.
DON’T RELY ON UBERS
A word of warning: Ubers in Paris are just not worth taking. Indeed in 99.98% of cases you are most definitely better off walking or taking the metro. I have no idea why it is so bad in Paris but not only do the journeys take ridiculously long, I think I was stuck in one for 2 hours when it should have been a 25 minute journey one afternoon, but getting an Uber at all is almost impossible. On one occasion I had 4 Ubers cancelling on me and had wait 12 minutes for the one I eventual managed to get. Be cleverer than me, use city mapper to find your way via public transport or on foot, and spend the money you save on something a little more useful like wine or fries.
KNOW YOUR LOCAL FAVOURITE SPOTS (AND BOOK AHEAD)
That is exactly what I did when it came to my chosen dinner venue for the Friday night of my visit, of course booking my absolute Paris favourite, Chez Janou, two weeks before so I knew I was going to get my cosy table for two, enjoy the super cute bistro atmosphere and have the best scallop risotto ever there.
A creature of habit? Maybe, but Chez Janou has become a dinner tradition for any Paris trip of mine and has never let me down. After all it’s French bistro dining at it’s best and for me the one place every visitor in town should make their way to!
I also really rate Cafe Strada as perfect stop between shows, a cute coffee shop in the Marais with excellent coffee and super friendly staff and made it somewhat of an in-between office on this trip. For sure my first port of call for caffeine when I get off the Eurostar and one spot I will always return to.
KEEP ACTIVE TO KEEP SANE @ BARRY’S BOOTCAMP PARIS
Sessions are slightly shorter than in London (50 minutes) but the studio is brand spanking new with top amenities and they have some super awesome trainers (if you go book yourself in with Jenny, great programming and an even better running soundtrack with ace hip hop tunes).
The sessions are also a lot less packed, I guess Parisians are more chill when it comes to working out, so it feels a bit less intense than the London counterpart but it still worked wonders to help me clear my head in the mornings and added some much needed routine to the week.
ALLOW YOURSELF A (WINE) BREAK
I mean it would be a crime not to in France so make sure you take an afternoon break and enjoy a nice glass of the stuff (I love a cote de Provence myself) and do some fun fashion crowd watching! A new discovery on this trip was Le Perchoir, a super laid back rooftop bar near the Marais that is perfect for watching the sunset, but Cafe Charlot is a classic when it comes to watching the fashion set and is always packed around this time! If you can get an outside table. It’s worth the wait.
TAKE IT ALL WITH A PINCH OF SALT
One thing I have learnt, if you really work in the industry you don’t have time to parade around in ridiculous outfits outside show venues and yes, there are some total cliches running around Paris during that week but mostly everyone is here to do their job and make the most of the city so don’t get too paranoid about not looking like a model or not looking like a million dollars the whole week - heck I definitely did not and enjoy it for what it is, not more, not less
Au revoir and until AW20 Paris!