8 exceptional skills that make Paris shine

Paris, the city of light, capital of luxury and elegance, is a showcase for French creativity that is both traditional and constantly seeking innovation. From fashion to perfumery, gastronomy, arts and crafts, and opera costumes, here is an overview of Paris' exceptional know-how.

Sustainable fashion

Dior, Chanel, YSL, Louboutin... For decades, the great designers have made Paris their favourite muse, both elegant and innovative. The city is teeming with the shops of French designers who were the first to use human models before organising the first 'presentation' or fashion show in 1900. The fashion capital intends to remain an international reference by embracing sustainability. The opening of Europe's largest ethical and sustainable fashion incubator, La Caserne, on the site of a former Paris fire station is promising.

The historic showcases of haute-couture, the Parisian department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, are accompanying this ecological transition with a selection of articles from ethical brands that favour organic cotton, short circuits and limit waste. To fill your wardrobe with trendy and eco-responsible items, you can enjoy a tailor-made shopping session in the temple of fashion with access to a lounge area to relax and benefit from advice, special attention and a gourmet break at the Dalloyau gourmet corner...
Architectural work, the department stores' reveals its secrets two Sundays a month during intimate visits. Privileged visitors go behind the scenes and discover the famous Art Nouveau style dome that was recently renovated.

La Caserne, an incubator for eco-responsible fashion (External link)
Shopping trip to Galeries Lafayette Hausmann (External link)

The perfumery

Paris means perfumery! The capital of fashion and elegance is also the city of romance and fragrances. Billet doux, Moment volé or Belle de nuit, Fragonard has understood everything. The famous perfume house opened its first Parisian boutique in 1936, following Guerlain et Lubin, created in Paris in 1798, considered as one of the founders of modern perfumery.
Just a stone's throw from the Opéra Garnier and the department stores, the Fragonard Museum offers an enchanted interlude: you can immerse yourself in the history of perfumery thanks to a large collection of old bottles, copper stills and Eiffel metal beams, and then play at being a perfume-nose apprentice by creating your own eau de Cologne during sensory workshops.

Visit the Fragonard Museum (External link)

The French cuisine

Listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, the French gastronomic meal is best experienced at the table of a starred restaurant to appreciate its subtleties. Paris has more than a hundred of them. It must be said that it was in Paris, in 1765, that the first modern restaurant was opened, accessible to the greatest number of people, next to the Louvre. A culinary revolution that we owe to an economist... For a revisit of a Parisian speciality, we try the croque-monsieur with truffles signed Jean Imbert from the restaurant Monsieur Dior, in the historic boutique of the great French couturier, which has just been renovated.

Savour the richness of French cuisine at Monsieur Dior restaurant (External link)

The bakery-pastry shop

There are bakeries on every street corner in Paris. Attracted by the delicious smell of fresh bread, one rushes to get a viennoiserie, a ham and butter sandwich aptly named Parisien, a sourdough loaf from Poilâne or Eric Kayser and of course the famous baguette invented, it is said, in the 1900s on the Paris metro site. Some bakeries are listed as historical monuments, such as Le Moulin de la Vierge or Maison Stohrer, the oldest, founded by the pastry chef of Louis XV, King of France.

Pierre Hermé, Cédric Grolet, Eric Kayser, Rodolphe Landemaine, Cyril Lignac, the pastry chefs of today offer creations that are as gourmet as they are aesthetically pleasing, inspired by the classics of French pastry making, such as Paris-Brest, Saint-Honoré or Opéra, all invented in Paris. Their source of inspiration? The House of Ladurée, inventor, in the 1950s, of the macaroon with shells attached two by two and filled with ganaches with subtle flavours. A modern and refined pastry in the image of Paris that you can learn to make yourself during the macaroon workshops offered by the capital's great pastry chefs.

Ceramics

Just a stone's throw from Paris, the Manufacture de Sèvres is a living illustration of the excellence of French know-how. 120 ceramists produce porcelain works based on ancient techniques that have been perfectly mastered. The Manufacture has been a centre of artistic creation, design and decorative arts since 1740, and is home to the National Museum of Ceramics with its 50,000 works of art, which combine masterpieces of the past with contemporary creations.

Visit the Cité de la Céramique in Sèvres, near Paris (External link)

The Art Restoration Workshops of the Parisian museums

From the Louvre to the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée du Quai Branly, the major cultural institutions in Paris welcome several million visitors each year to admire the masterpieces of art history. These unique collections require safeguarding and preservation campaigns: meticulous restoration of paintings and tapestries, frames and pieces of furniture. This is the work of a goldsmith entrusted to the museum workshops. At the Louvre, it is possible to go behind the scenes of these excellent skills every year during the European Crafts Days.

Visit the museum workshops of the Louvre Museum (External link)
Consult the programme of the European Crafts Days (External link)

The minting of coins and medals

Art craftsmen with a passion for history, the engravers at the Monnaie de Paris have been using a thousand years of know-how since... the year 864: striking coins with a hammer and then with a pendulum. The first and last factory in Paris, the engraving workshop, which has been awarded the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company) label, also produces collector's coins, official decorations such as the Légion d'honneur or the Ordre national du Mérite, as well as souvenir medals bearing the effigy of iconic Parisian tourist sites such as Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower or the Musée Grévin. Visitors love them!

La Monnaie de Paris engraving workshop (External link)

Decorations and costumes

An architectural feat classified as a historical monument, the Opéra Garnier is, let's face it, one of the most beautiful in the world. Each ballet transports the spectator into an imaginary and magical world. A great show that relies on the meticulous know-how of the couturiers and milliners. The best kept mysteries of the palace are to be found on the sixth floor in the sewing workshop, which can be visited. Fabrics, beads and flowers abound. This is where tutus are designed.
The Opéra-Comique, the oldest theatre in Paris, also has a costume workshop. Little hands are busy cutting fabric, making hats and dyes, most often natural ones based on vegetable pigments. Even more surprising is the manufacture of wigs, which requires taking impressions, implanting hair and styling...

As for the trimmers, they have an exceptional know-how for the production of decorative elements made of threads such as furniture braids, decorative fringes or curtain tiebacks... The only trimmings workshop in Paris, the Maison Verrier produces textile ornaments from Jacquard looms or by hand for the decoration of prestigious interiors such as châteaux, embassies and luxury hotels.

Opéra de Paris (External link)
Passementerie workshop - Maison Verrier (External link)

Getting to Paris