PARIS — Not many streets have a movie named for them. But the famed Avenue Montaigne, just off of the Champs-Élysées, was the subject of a charming 2006 French flick and holds a special place among luxury shoppers as a worldwide destination.
With just about every designer label available on one street, it's worth a visit — even if your budget doesn't allow for a big splurge.
It's not an especially long street, but the designer stores are endless. Haute couture garments are created at Dior and Ungaro salons on the avenue, while retail ready-to-wear stores, including Chanel, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Ferragamo, Celine, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Nina Ricci, Roberto Cavalli, Akris, Dolce and Gabbana and Ralph Lauren, are bunched side-by-side.
If you're into heavy-duty shopping, or just browsing and people watching, here are five must things to do along the way:
Dior, 30 Avenue Montaigne
On a recent day, a stylish-dressed couple — he in jeans, a black leather jacket and sunglasses; she in a white above-the-knee coat, high heels and a Dior bag — exited the Dior flagship store with their oversized Dalmatian in tow. Only in Paris — and certainly at Dior, where the namesake owner transformed fashion after the World War II on this very street.
The flagship store in a gray mansion offers the full collection of men's, women's and children's clothing (the first Baby Dior store was established here), along with affordable gift items, makeup and perfume. The sales staff is gracious even if you don't buy anything. The upstairs salons, closed to the public, are where haute couture creations continue to be created.
Montaigne Market, 57 Avenue Montaigne
The exterior is bland, but inside is one of the best-edited collections of designer frocks anywhere. Rachel Zoe says she comes here for inspiration and we can see why. On the day we visited, a lineup of to-die-for little black dresses from such designers as Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and The Row greeted customers. Further inside, an assortment of handbags, shoes and accessories, along with a few cutting-edge items for men, make this store a must-stop for designer faithful even if the staff is snooty.
L'Avenue, 41 Avenue Montaigne
This corner restaurant with a large outdoor patio is the place to see-and-be-seen on the avenue. Beyoncé, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez have been spotted here, as well as Lionel Richie, who said he stops by, orders a "nice glass of wine" and sits and watches people all day. We ran into Houstonians Elizabeth and Gary Petersen in a prime spot on the patio during our visit. The waitstaff serves up a lot of French attitude, but ignore it and have a good time.
Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris, 25 Avenue Montaigne
Perfectly situated in the heart of Avenue Montaigne, The Plaza Athénée is one of the city's nicest (and most expensive) hotels. Take a break from shopping or window shopping (the French call it lèche-vitrine) at the hotel's La Terrasse Montaigne. Light cocktails, summer cuisines and fresh cocktails are served in lush outdoor surroundings from noon to 10 p.m.
It doesn't cost anything to browse. A stroll down the tree-line thoroughfare reveals some of the best window-shopping anywhere. From the bright pastel purses in the window of Loewe to the chic suits and jackets of multiple Chanel boutiques on the avenue, nearly every window offers a peek into high-fashion.