From France to Italy and Spain, our fashion-themed Europe tour takes travel fashionistas through three cities where fabulous footwear is all the rage.
Renowned for their impeccable dress sense, Parisians, Barcelonans and Milanos know a thing or two about putting together an outfit. More often than not, this means starting from the bottom up. Here’s a shopping guide to Europe, with tips on where to pick up brand new kicks ranging from casual to couture.
Walk the Shoe Strip in Paris
You could walk the chic streets of Paris all day to hunt down your next pair of heels, or you could make life easy and simply head straight to Rue de Grenelle. This attractive St Germain street reads like an A to Z of world-class designers, from Christian Louboutin to Sergio Rossi and Giuseppe Zanotti.
For up-to-the-minute cool, check out Robert Clergerie’s boutique – the interior design is a work of art in itself. One of France’s most influential shoe designers in the 1980s, Clergerie today is busy collaborating with fashion mogul Roland Mouret – expect lace-up Oxfords and brogues.
If you are still hungry for more, cross Boulevard Raspail for the shoes at Le Bon Marché (24 rue de Sèvres, 75007) – the selection at this historic department store is luxurious to say the least.
Milan is Home to All the Fun of the Fair
More than 46,000 footwear fanatics descended on the city in September last year for its annual footwear fair, once again confirming that Milan really is shoe central.
If you can’t quite make it to the massive industry event, console yourself with the next best thing – upmarket department store la Rinascente (Piazza Duomo, 20121) has devoted its entire third floor to an exclusive selection of women’s shoes, while a vast range of men’s shoes are showcased on the first floor. That’s a total area of 800 square metres – plenty of room to live out your wildest Cinderella moments. Fashionistas Tip: March is the the best time to visit Paris and Milan
From prestigious brands, including Alexander McQueen, Tabitha Simmons and Sophia Webster, to upcoming talent, you’ll also find hundreds of trainers in the sneaker zone and a great children’s footwear section on the fifth floor. Situated on the Piazza Duomo, this multi-storey building is essentially a cathedral dedicated to shoes.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
And if you are still keen to check out a catwalk show, head to Milan or Paris in March. The spring weather means temperatures are starting to get warmer, but that’s nothing compared to the red-hot preview collections you’ll see walking down the runways, and indeed the streets, as both cities go even more clothing crazy than usual.
Rambling down La Rambla in Barcelona Leather
Casual yet chic, incredibly comfy and not going out of fashion any time soon, Kokua’s ballet flats come in a rainbow of colours, from ultra-feminine pastels to bright, bold prints.
Empty your travel backpack and stock up – prices rarely break the €80 mark so you can afford to go a little crazy. Plus, the small shop located just off La Rambla (Carrer de la Boqueria 30) also stocks a range of leather handbags, so you can pick and mix accessories to match your shoes.
For even more iconic Barcelona-style footwear, follow in the footsteps of celebrities and make for La Manual Alpargatera on Carrer d’Avinyó 7. This store is renowned across the country as the birthplace of high-quality, handmade espadrilles and you’ll be ready to strut your stuff on the city’s urban beach in no time. Away from La Rambla, it’s possible to find A-list labels at accessible prices by heading to one of the city’s many designer outlets.
Fashionistas tip: Visit La Roca Village for designer outlets
La Roca Village is home to more than 130 boutiques – from handbags at Furla, hosiery at Wolford and shoes at Jimmy Choo – that are open from 10am to 10pm seven days a week. The chic Shopping Express coach service whisks fashion fans from the city centre to the village in just over half an hour.
Best Time to Visit
Where to Stay
In Barcelona, iconic Spanish shoe brand Camper also has a hotel, the bohemian Casa Camper, which is a funky accommodation option in the Raval area. In Paris, the Christian Lacroix designed boutique Hôtel du Petit Moulin is half old-school Paris (it’s located in an old bakery), half 1960s retro.