Shopping in (French) style
For luxurious sale browsing, why not a weekend in Paris?
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Saturday 04 January 1997
Feasting on the carrion of cut-price purchases in the rue Saint Honore, the Place Vendome or the Avenue Montaigne can leave an illusion of wealth, and this year may be the time to carry the illusion to historic extremes. If the impoverished Oscar Wilde (once staying at l'Hotel in the rue des Beaux Arts) did not in fact make her say it, Lady Bracknell should have said: "If one is not actually wealthy, that is no reason not to stay in a palace."
To "do" the Paris sales in unquestionable style there really is only one suitably palatial destination: the Hotel de Crillon.
The guide books jump for the thesaurus when they try to describe the Crillon, which overlooks the Place de la Concorde: "luxury, elegance, magnificence, imposing, outstanding". These descriptions, rather than encouraging, tend to scare; but not enough to frighten Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, the Shah of Iran, Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy, David Niven, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Bette Davis, and, although not Eva Peron, Madonna - all of whom are former guests.
The thought of Madonna struggling through the 18th-century Louis XV lobby at the Crillon, drowning in sale bag bargains from Chanel and Dior (Avenue Montaigne), Christian Lacroix and Versace (rue du Faubourg St Honore) Armani, Hermes, Lagerfeld and Louis Feraud (Place Vendome), and Thierry Mugler and Ungaro on the Ave Montaigne, either means that Evita is concentrating on the couture houses of the Right Bank, or that she is trying to save on cab fares from the Crillon.
From her early New York days Madonna may have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where one of the Crillon's original wood-panelled rooms is on permanent display. It may take some time before one of Granada's Welcome Break motorway suites reaches such heights, but this is the point of the illusion of wealth: the economics of the sales should not be confused with Calvinistic sensibility; the dosh saved on the goods can be philosophically transferred, without guilt, to the prime purpose of living among the High Society grace of a Kelly.
The Crillon's location, overlooking the obelisk of Luxor in the middle of the Place de La Concorde, was initially supposed to be the masterpiece of the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel, set in Louis XV Square. The French revolution changed the name of the square and much else. Now France's history is a morning's stroll from the Crillon: past the Tuileries, the nearby Louvre museum, and the Arc de Triomphe. In January, such a journey will only complicate the business of looking for red-and-white Solde signs in famous shop windows.
Once you have worn yourself out shopping, you will find that the Crillon, still privately owned by the French Concorde Hotel Group, has all the haven-like comfort of a diplomatic residency. Unlike the architecture of the current wave of super-hotels which seem to take their style from theme-park extravagance, the Crillon's public rooms, such as the Winter Garden tea room and the Piano bar, are quiet, understated. While the prices of the formidable Restaurant les Ambassadeurs might scare even Marco Pierre White, you can always order the full Crillon breakfast in your room. This can only be described as one of the world's great breakfasts: more a catwalk of cuisine than simple coffee and toast. The waiters, in full morning dress tails, who lift the silver lids off your poached eggs, know they are engaged in royal theatre. In 1815 Hazlitt remarked : "The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and endure much."
Keep that in mind when the credit card overheats.
For details of the Crillon's special winter rates, call 33 1 44 71 15 00.
For travel to Paris on the Eurostar, call train reservations (0345-303030).
Details of Paris sales may be obtained from the Office du Tourisme, 127 Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Paris (33-1-47 20 88 98). Assistance is provided in English).
27 March 2015 08:30 PM
27 March 2015 08:30 PM
20 March 2015 07:30 PM
How to make the most of Isas: You can save more money now, the returns are tax-free and the rules are flexible
20 March 2015 07:30 PM
13 March 2015 09:00 PM
13 March 2015 09:00 PM
10 March 2015 09:03 AM
The Financial Conduct Authority found non-compliance in all reviewed firms
11 March 2015 11:38 AM
Pension expert John Lawson talks on why improved longevity is something to plan for carefully
06 March 2015 08:30 PM
02 March 2015 10:50 AM
The DWP and the FCA have joined forces to investigate transaction charges in occupational pension schemes
04 March 2015 03:00 PM
The company was found to have unacceptably long call waiting times
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 12:01 AM
The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of approximately £1.5bn treating cold-related illnesses every winter
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 3 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 4 Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
- 5 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
iJobs Money & Business
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...
Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000