What to do in ParisDesiree Fish, An American in Paris
Three words we use to describe Desiree: Warm, Engaging and Simply Fabulous.
While there are many Paris aficionados, with her profession as Vice President of Public Affairs at American Express in New York, Desiree Fish is especially in the know. Originally from Texas, Desiree is a world-traveler, averaging around 4-5 international trips a year, primarily to Europe. Through Desiree, we can vicariously experience what it is like to buy your Fall/Winter and Spring wardrobes in Paris.
Galavante: How many times have you visited Paris?
Desiree: I’ve been there over 26 times; needless to say it is my favorite city in the world. I can’t go too long without getting my Paris fix.
Galavante: So how did this love affair with Paris start?
Desiree: With the first love of my life, my husband Lawrence. He introduced me to Paris when we were dating 12 years ago. Lawrence grew up going to Paris every summer and lived there, so it’s really home to him. I really hadn’t traveled much until I went to Paris, and I just fell in love with the shopping, food and culture. I think in that order too.
Galavante: Where do you normally stay when you are in Paris?
Desiree: We’ve stayed many places – from high end hotels (the Prince de Galles and Intercontinental) to boutique (Hotel West End). Our favorite hotel for years now is The Westin at the Jardin des Tuilleries, where we get a suite where your view is the garden, Place de la Concorde, Eiffel Tower and the Louvre! It’s a postcard out your window. We have found staying somewhere often where the staff becomes family and looks out for you is best.
Galavante: Paris is the city of shopping, which you’ve discovered over your 25+ trips. What makes the shopping so great?
Desiree: I’ve found designers that are unique and that work for me, as well as made some great contacts at the stores. I love buying things that you can’t get anywhere else but Paris.
Galavante: What is the biggest purchase/number of items you’ve ever bought on a shopping trip in Paris?
Desiree: A dear friend of mine, who was a fashion designer, once told me that every time I go to Paris I need to buy one outfit at Courreges. One trip I bought 6 -- she would have been so proud! I now have more than 20 Courreges dresses and outfits.
Galavante: So where should we shop when we go to Paris so we can look as fabulous as you?
Desiree: No surprise from the answer above that favorite boutique is Courreges, which you can only buy at their store in Paris unless you are buying vintage. My vendeurs Grazie, Karin and Felix are the best at picking things out for you, helping you spend more money than you wish. They are very good at their jobs. Georges Reich has wonderful clothes for an elegant younger woman, there are a few locations but go to the one on Rue St. Honore. They have great work clothes and dresses that translate from day to evening. I bought 20 things in the store last time and can’t wait to go back.
Galavante: What about shoes and accessories?
Desiree: I love Jet Set for the most gorgeous shoes, which run about 300 Euros, and you can’t get them anywhere else. In addition to being exquisitely designed, they are so well made you’re feet don’t even hurt the first day you wear them. (Can you say that about all your heels?) They have a store on the Rue St. Honore and on the left bank.
Galavante: All this shopping must make you hungry.
Desiree: I love the French food. For a classic French bistro, we go to Allard on the Left Bank, for the best roast chicken or Canard Aux Olives for two people, you ever had. Josephine Chez Dumont has a langoustine appetizer that is to die for, and for entrees the best steak tartare prepared table side or classic beef Bourguignon. It’s pricier than you expect for a bistro, but the chef offers half portions, which are more than enough. They also give you champagne when you arrive and bring out the petit fours after dessert when you are too stuffed to eat more but somehow you manage another bite.
Galavante: What’s a good local value for food in Paris?
Desiree: Chez Denise in Les Halles, it’s the quintessential local bistro, which is open 24 hours a day. You eat at tables so close once a wonderful French man stole some of our frites but then poured us some of this wine. It’s a great way to make local friends! They have amazing frisee salad, lamb chops and classic French fare like foie de veau. Make sure to order the house brouilly beaujolais by the liter (you pay for as much as you drink, this is a MUST).
Galavante: How about your all out favorite splurge place in Paris?
Desiree: For me, I love antique jewelry and silver flatware. I like to pop into the Louvre des Antiquaires atPlace du Palais Royal. My engagement ring is from there, and got a unique fork and knife set for 12 from the 1800s that has mother-of-pearl handles and an ornate silver pattern. It’s fun to just window shop too.
Galavante: So when are you going to Paris next?
Desiree: In September, and I will be sure to have new places for you.
Galavante: We can't wait to here all about it.