AnOther discovers the perfect way to spend 24 hours in the City of Light, courtesy of Vionnet's Goga Ashkenazi
Paris can often seem impenetrable to outsiders, its beautiful buildings and storied creative history somewhat overwhelming. However, there is one woman who understands the greatest way to spend a day in the city: the iconic creative director of Vionnet, Goga Ashkenazi. "I love to explore the antique stores and art galleries on the left bank," she explains "finding unique pieces always for myself or often gifts for my friends. There's the best chicken at L'Ami Louis; I love to walk along La Seine on a gloomy day; I can spend hours at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore." As the head of one of Paris' most iconic maisons, she is one of the greatest women to offer an insider's view of Paris – so here we present a visual tour of her ideal day, as documented by Matthieu Venot...
Morning: Antique Stores and Art Galleries on the Left Bank
Paris’ Left Bank presents a web of tiny antique stores, brimming with knickknacks and rare curios that beg to be purchased as gifts for friends and family. Its winding streets unfurl with every step to uncover more concealed corners, art galleries and wine bars, housing a veritable microcosm of the city’s art scene. Alongside the banks of the Seine, Paris’ booksellers haggle over their wares with passers-by, selling vintage copies of timeworn poetry books by Baudelaire and Maupassant alongside threadbare but treasured copies of Colette’s famed novels. What better way to spend a morning?
Lunchtime: Museum Les Arts Décoratifs
Just next to the Louvre is the Museum Les Arts Décoratifs: a veritable treasure trove of design that includes everything from antique furnishings to the creations of contemporary Korean artisans. Its self-declared purpose is "to keep alive in France the culture of the arts which seek to make useful things beautiful,” – and with an abudance of jewels, archive advertising campaigns and a wonderfully ornate selection of antique walking sticks, there is surely something for everyone; Parisian or non.
Afternoon: Vionnet Store
Obviously, it wouldn't be a day in the life of Goga Ashkenazi without a trip to the new flagship Vionnet store at 31 rue Francois, which only opened this weekend but whose progress Ashkenazi has been checking in on throughout its construction. Situated just down the road from Madame Vionnet's original atelier, Goga says that "The Maison Vionnet has returned to the city where its story began over a century ago," explaining that the key to her inspiation was using her architect Renato Montagner's ability to reinterpret the original atmosphere of a maison. With a two-storey video wall displaying projections of seasonal Vionnet runways alongside white crystal marble panelling and plasterwork that resembles the house's renowned style of fabric draping, the store is a luxuriant combination of the past, present and future of the house... and a brilliant place to pop by mid-afternoon.
Dusk: La Seine
On a balmy evening, the banks of La Seine are filled with Parisians drinking vin rouge and catching up with friends – in fact, one elderly couple can regularly be found bringing a full dinner picnic complete with table and chairs once a week for possibly the most romantic experience imaginable. Paris winestores will happily open a bottle for you on request so bring a picnic blanket and watch the boats go by as dusk sets... we suggest the enclave just by Pont Marie.
Evening: Shakespeare & Company Bookstore
Shakespeare & Comapny is the legendary Paris bookstore with an illustrious history: it once served as a meeting ground for like likes of Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, and now houses literary festivals with esteemed authors such as Jeanette Winterson and Paul Auster. The store regularly hosts evening events and salons – this week, The Gentlewoman hosted an evening of magic tricks for those whose Paris Fashion Week attention spans were wearing thin – and a regular plethora of performances, book readings and its infamous Sunday afternoon tea mean that it's the perfect place to stop by before dinner. Plus, it's open until 11pm, so if you forgot to pack your bedtime reading, you're in luck.
Dinner: The Pompidou Centre
Dinner at The Pompidou Centre's restauraunt, Le Georges is one of Paris' greatest attractions; it offers one of the greatest views in the city, alongside a carte of delicacies like artichoke mousseline and whipped king crab. With the phenomenal modern art museum staying open until 9pm, there is plenty of time for one to explore the abundance of Picassos and Chagalls before settling in for an experience gastronomique above the rooftops of Paris.