“You shouldn’t have to buy an umbrella on vacation,” grumbled the American woman in the hotel lift. My daughter stifled a giggle. “Oh dear,” she whispered in my ear. “We’ve already bought three.”
We were in wet, grey Paris for a whistlestop weekend but the fact that the clouds had turned black the minute we stepped off the Eurostar didn’t matter a jot. We bought our first umbrella for eight euros at a tacky-looking tourist shop off the Champs Elysées. Big mistake. The shopkeeper warned us it wasn’t “très solide” and sure enough, the blooming thing snapped within half an hour. So we dashed into H&M and snapped up two garish brollies for just under ten euros. A much better move.
The great thing about being in Paris with my daughter was that we were keen to do pretty much the same things. We walked everywhere, lunched at the Rose Bakery, discovered that the ultra-chic Colette on the Rue Saint-Honoré now sells Topshop make-up and wandered round the Musée Rodin garden in the rain.
We stayed at La Maison Champs Elysées, a lovely hotel that’s been done up to the nines by Maison Martin Margiela, the avant-garde Belgian design house. We didn’t get an MMM room but the hotel is amazing, with a silver corridor, trompe l’oeil wallpaper and a pretty white drawing room where a waiter was playing jazz at the piano as we arrived. More to the point, it’s relatively affordable compared to other Paris hotels.
Our best discovery of the weekend though was a tiny shop called Popelini in the Marais (see above). Launched by Lauren Koumetz, who grew up in the Marais, and with a chef who used to work at Ladurée, it sells exquisite iced choux buns. Flavours range from cherry and pistachio to vanilla and strawberry and they’re so light and tiny you don’t feel guilty afterwards. You can buy just one or get a selection wrapped up in an elegant cerise box. Forget cupcakes and macaroons. Popelini makes them look completely old hat.
Mark my words, these choux buns will catch on in the UK faster than you can say Popelini.
29 rue Debelleyme