On my way home today, I got completely lost. My phone died, but I thought I knew the city well enough to get home without it. Just Follow the Seine then turn left at the Marais.
I thought I knew where the Seine was and tried to keep that as a point of reference, but failed miserably. My brain is wired to navigate Manhattan style. In Manhattan, the bodies of water stay in straight lines, making it easy to orient yourself. All the avenues go up and down and all the streets go side-to-side (with the exception on the West Village where I tend to get disoriented and lost). For the most part, it’s the ideal city layout (not that I’m biased or anything).
In Paris, the roads criss cross and shoot out in every direction. There are roundabouts and intersections with over 5 streets. Even worse, the Seine snakes through the city. You have to know which bank you are on (right or left) to get a general sense of where you are.
Anyways, I ended up wandering down Avenue Montaigne and past the stunning Hôtel Plaza Athénée. I had never been on this street before and I was pleasantly surprised to discover it. Avenue Montaigne is like Rodeo Drive minus the fanfare and mobs of tourists reenacting Pretty Woman. Couture designer shops line the street. Chanel, Gucci, Valentino, Prada, LV, Chloé, Fendi, Céline, Ferragamo, Versace, they’re all there. I was too intimidated to enter any of them so I settled for window shopping at Dior and Harry Winston. A girl can dream, right?
Around the corner from the Dior window displays was an office entrance (Dior Headquarters?). Everyone coming in and out was fabulously dressed in what I assume was Dior. I tried walking into the lobby just for the sake of it, but was quickly turned away by security when they realized that I wasn’t an employee, just a crazy tourist.