When you have only one morning to go shopping in Paris, best not to find yourself at a 2am lock-in at your favourite Parisian friend’s local – in this case, Mon Chein Stupide (1, rue Boyer 75020, 01 46 36 25 49) – the night before. And best not precede that with a visit to his beloved neighbourhood restaurant, the comfortingly unpretentious, seriously produce-driven, and Michelin-starred Bistrot des Soupirs (49, rue de la Chine 75020, 01 44 62 93 31). There will be conversations about birth, deathlove, war and Gil Scott Heron; your glass will never be empty, life will be impossibly sweet. Then you’ll wake up.

My Mamashelter bed was large and very forgiving, and with the sound of teeming rain and a great stonking hangover urging me to stay put, I wrote the morning, and my shopping lift, off. After ‘lunch’ at the Rose Bakery (46, rue des Martyrs 75009, 01 42 82 12 80) – nothing like a crumble and a jug of custard to help a sore head – I had my legs sugared at Cinq Monde – much more relaxing than a wax, as a calf massage is part of the process.

Then to the wonderful Institut Du Monde Arabe, in a valiant attempt to plough through at least a few hours of research before I headed across Ille St Louis to the right bank, the metro and pre-dinner nap back in the 20eme. But on the way ‘home’, as fate would have it, I missed the turnoff to the Pont Marie metro station and before I knew it, found myself outside cult sandal shop, K.Jacques (16, rue Pavée, 01 40 27 03 57). Then there was no turning back, the Marais sucked me in: Bensimon (12, rue des Francs Bourgeois, 01 42 77 16 18), Comptoir de Cotonniers (33, rue des Francs Bourgeois,01 42 76 95 33), Vanessa Bruno (100, rue Vielle du Temple, 01 42 77 19 41), Claudie Pierlot (Blancs Manteaux 9, rue des Blancs Manteaux, 01 44 78 03 33) and L’Arstisan Perfumer (‎32, rue du Bourg Tibourg, 01 48 04 55 66‎), all within a Chablis-addled amble. The 10eme’s APC and the Anne Valerie Hash aside, here was my shopping list writ large.

The fates seemed to want me to shop and I was in browsing heaven, but I was in no state for change rooms. Despite a final detour, a long, lustful wander and a cup of tea at the beautiful and oh-so right-on Merci (111 blvd Beaumarchais 75003, 01 42 77 00 33), by the time I found another metro station, I carried but two modestly sized shopping bags. One from Petit Bateau, with the obligatory dozen knickers for my daughters, the other from American Vintage (10 rue des Francs-Bourgeois 01 42 77 98 73 ), a label I first spied in Marseille in 2006, and whose endless riffs on the t-shirt theme have now fortunately found their way into the wider world.

The American Vintage bag contained the twin scarves – long, meltingly soft twists of cotton – pictured above. Why two? In grey and, well, grey? There are, as the cliché goes, many shades of grey; in the parlance of conte crayons, I chose one that was cool, another that was warm. (Or perhaps, recalling the urban bestiary of Paris, there’s a pigeon and  a mouse.) They’ve both since kept my chill-prone neck warm during many a flight and through the ever-shifting equinox weather of Melbourne, New York and Oslo. One or the other will go with everything I own, and I’m never quite as anxious about potential loss as I’ve got back up. And while there’s a host of similar pieces to be had, these carry both the insouciance and a particular attention to detail of their Provençal makers.

Teamed with a cream APC tunic, the warm one  kept my décolleté modest on my early morning flight south to Tunis, while the cool one got its first outing later that very evening. On the way to find a medicinal onion soup, my friend and I made an unscheduled stop on a windswept corner. A (largely female) crowd had gathered to watch a couple of strapping young pompiers liberate a wayward terrace umbrella that had been blown into the top branches of a very tall tree. Neck wrapped tight in my new scarf (and looped into messy pussycat bow, because it was, well, Paris), I was able to stave off the unseasonable cold while this slight but charming episode came to its happy conclusion. And what a cinematic one it was, the day’s inky clouds suddenly receding as the umbrella was retrieved, the firemen’s muscles flexing beneath sodden t-shirts, gold helmets glinting in the last rays of the setting sun.


About Donna Wheeler

Donna Wheeler is the author of several Lonely Planet guidebooks, is a reporter for My Art Guides and the author of the upcoming Paris Precincts title for Hardie Grant. She has published on contemporary art, architecture and design, food, wine and history in a variety of publications. Travel writing follows various careers, including commissioning editor, art director, digital producer and content strategist.