When three lifelong girlfriends rendezvous in Paris, the energy is so high that you just have to get out and shop. Always start with the eye candy that is totally out of sight -- along Avenue Montaigne where wealth and chic prevail in the windows of Versace, Dior, Lacroix and more.
We strolled along the avenue from Pont de l'Alma, the bridge closest to the Eiffel Tower and Bateaux Mouches, to the Champs Elysees. We glanced left to acknowledge the Arc de Triomphe and turned right toward the Place de la Concorde and the Jardins des Tuileries. For several hours, we traipsed through the most elegant Right Bank shopping streets, including the majestic Place Vendome, ringed by the elegant Hotel Ritz and jewelers with diamonds of stunning proportions. A delightful and affordable find was Valombreuse, a specialty linen shop along the Rue de Rivoli. Assisted by the English-speaking proprietor, we purchased hand-embroidered pillow covers and tea towels that hinted of Paris without the tacky monotony of most souvenirs and yet a refined memory of our visit.
A lovely place to stop for lunch or tea in the neighborhood is Laduree, which I've written about before, on Rue Royale in the Place Madeleine. (The main Laduree, a Paris mecca known for its macaron cookies, is along the Champs Elysees, and there are other locations worth noting if you're going to be out and about for the day.) Because it was such a beautiful autumn day, we chose to lunch in the stately Tuileries gardens in one of the many outdoor bistros that serve salads, sandwiches and other light fare. At lunch it seems that all Parisians working nearby and a confluence of the city's world travelers will pass by each other in the stately and spacious gardens linking the Champs Elysees and the Louvre on such a harmonious day!