With or without that dream Chanel handbag on your arm, you can feel closer to Madame Coco Chanel, the icon synonymous with French chic and inventor of the essential Little Black Dress, with every step around her former Paris haunts.
Born on August 19, 1883 in Saumur, in the north-west of France, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, nicknamed Coco, might not have been a native Parisienne, but she and the city of Paris will forever go hand in hand.
To discover the city in her footsteps, so to speak, start with a sip of chocolat chaud in regal surroundings at Angelina on Rue de Rivoli, which always has a queue outside. Living and working in this epicenter of fashion during her career, Coco Chanel too was partial to the sweet delights offered at Angelina, just steps away from her atelier on Rue Cambon, and from her apartment in the Ritz Paris.
From the tearoom, turn right and walk over to Rue Cambon, where between number 19 and number 31, you’ll find Chanel heaven: the luxury label’s enormous flagship store. Upstairs, the ateliers feature fitting rooms for both the rich and famous who can afford haute couture. This is also where the magic happens as models fit the latest collections for the Paris fashion shows.
Coco Chanel opened her first boutiques in Deauville on the English Channel in 1913, and in Biarritz in 1915, with an investment from Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel, said to have been the love of her life. Both boutiques quickly became hugely successful, and Madame Chanel soon repaid her loan and made her first property purchase. In 1918, the building at number 31 became the first in Chanel’s real estate portfolio, which eventually stretched to some five properties on Rue Cambon alone.