Sofia Redgrave

Last week, I went to Paris for a one night shopping extravaganza. Once we had arrived at Gare du Nord, I dumped my bags and headed straight for the Porte de Clignancourt market. It took a while to navigate my way through all of the junk and get to the ‘good’ bit, but I did manage to find a skull pattern scarf (very McQueen) for €3 on my way through – a bargain in comparison to the several hundred pound designer price tag. The Clignancourt flea market is a collection of mini markets covering more than seven hectares. It specialises in antique furniture, ranging from baroque to Art Deco to Fifties classic art prints, linens, silverware, chandeliers and all other weird and kitsch things. Once in the heart of the market, just before reaching the vintage section, I was distracted by these oddities. Each stall holder had their own space which they designed in individual and quirky ways, with each one trying to outdo the other (similar to the designer spaces at Dover Street Market). The area screamed super cool but this was reflected in the prices, and bargaining was notably difficult. A couple of these spaces particularly caught my eye. In one room I was confronted by a giraffe towering over me, with ostriches, lizards and other exotic animals peering out. This amazing collection of antique taxidermy was juxtaposed with the contents of the opposite room full of shiny stage lighting and metal pipes. The next room had a sand covered floor with three pieces of 1970s French furniture perching on it. Totally bizarre. The whole place would be an amazing location for a fashion shoot if only Nouse had the budget!

The vintage clothing section was also good, but difficult to navigate. A good tip is to buy ‘Paris Vintage’ by Sarah de Haro from Amazon which tells you exactly what is worth a visit, and what is worth a miss. I discovered Isabelle Klein’s vintage fashion store which was filled with beautiful, designer pieces. There was so much to choose from but all I managed to buy was a new trilby to shield me from the rain. The market has been given the seal of approval by French fashionistas by hosting its own Spring/Summer ‘09 fashion show but, in spite of this, it was not the most fashionable part of my trip. The hotel was.

Designed by Philippe Starck and strategically placed in the new coolest quarter of town (on a par with Hoxton or Shoreditch), this hotel seemed to be a beacon for fun-loving, partying types (I spotted Robert Pattinson at the bar taking time off from promoting New Moon, and yes, he is gorgeous). There is no ‘Mama Shelter’ sign outside the door – only a bored doorman- but once inside, they are everywhere. Starck has gone graffiti mad and covered the carpets, walls and ceilings in slogans such as “let’s trash the place” and “can we hire a room by the hour? The rooms are equipped with Mac computers which double up as TVs and the bar was heaving on a Monday night. Mama Shelter is trying to be très chic, and with Paris’s most renowned live music venue, La Fleche d’Or, located directly opposite and with rooms going for €79, it gets my vote.

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