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Madrid Shopping

A good excuse for a getaway to Madrid – if you really need one – is to take advantage of the huge number of shops it boasts. There, to renew your wardrobe or give yourself a treat. This panoply of stores is large enough to cater for all, from classics, to luxury, mainstream, the latest trends and vintage. Following is the key to venturing into this fabulous world of Madrilenian shopping.

Malasaña – Hipster, Creative & Vintage

The popular Malasaña district breathes creativity and good vibes. The process of urban renewal it has seen in the last few years has turned it into a must-visit area for those seeking the latest trends. So, if you are one of those that relishes being à la mode, and you’re a sucker for everything hipster, this is your precinct. Some of the gems you are likely to come across include The Concrete Madrid, a denim tailor’s shop, and Lady Cacahuete, featuring women’s wear inspired by the 50s universe. Then there is Ioli Shoes, with handmade shoes and handbags, the studio shop Dooc, where you can pick up the odd designer object, and Le Circus, located at 18 Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, which will delight trend hunters.

Malasaña also has ample room for vintage – it couldn’t be otherwise. Notably, stores such asEl templo de Susu(Calle del Espíritu Santo, 1),La Cierva(Calle Marqués de Santa Ana, 30),Popland(Calle de Manuela Malasaña, 24) andKinda Kinks(Calle del Pez, 16), among others.

And, as old favourites have a habit of popping up again, why not pick up a pair of oldtime alpargatas at a lifelong classic establishment, the Antigua Casa Crespo?

Chueca and Fuencarral – Young, Alternative Fashion

Like Malasaña, Chueca has also grown into an area where you can measure the latest trends. It is known, above all, for being Madrid’s gay district, and for its gastronomic offerings and night-time entertainment, but it also has a large number of fashion stores. The latter are mainly to be found along the Calle Fuencarral, a crowded, bustling precinct with a plethora of stores selling apparel and footwear for the young, modern set. Labels such as Diesel, Puma, Adidas and Hoss abound here. The more expensive and exclusive shops are located on the Calles Almirante and Prim.

The Salamanca District – Luxury, Elegance & Big Labels

Serrano, José Ortega y Gasset and Claudio Coello are the streets you should head for if you’re looking for luxury. Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Gucci, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Miu Miu and Manolo Blahnik are some of the designer labels you will come across. Another place where you can indulge in elegance and splendour is ABC Serrano. This shopping centre, housed in a palace which still has its Neo-Mudéjar facade intact, features a carefully curated selection of domestic and international labels. If you visit it in summer, be sure to go up to the magnificent roof terrace where you can delight in their culinary offerings while taking in the view.

Huertas – Young Designers

In addition to the book shops and art galleries, this area is worth visiting for the classic establishments reconditioned as stores with wares crafted by upcoming designers. One such shop is L’Atelier / Óptica, an optician’s midway between a workshop and an art gallery featuring a wonderful selection of spectacles. This is also true of La Intrusa, on the Calle León, which carries the production of Spanish firms like Con2tijeras, Berenbaum, Roberto Navazo and Desietecorazones.

Sol and Preciados, the Mainstream Core

Sol, Preciados, Del Carmen and Arenal make up Madrid’s hardcore commercial hub. The area concentrates the large chain stores such as Zara, H&M, El Corte Inglés, FNAC and Mango, which have taken over the lion’s share of these streets. But, there is still room for some gems from yesteryear, as in the Casa de Diego, where you can buy fans, umbrellas and accessories, and relive a bygone age for a while.

El Rastro – the Sanctuary of Second-Hand Things

The best way to round off a weekend getaway to Madrid is to head for the Ribera de Curtidores and surrounding area – in the Latin quarter – and visit El Rastro. This street market, which opens on Sundays, sells all kinds of second-hand items, including garments and old books, and features a sizeable number of bargains. And, while you’re in the area, we recommend you drop in on Vintage 4P, on Calle Bastero, and La Recova, in the Plaza General Vara del Rey, both stocking furniture, lamps and other objects from the second half of the 20th century.

Bring out your stylish streak and join the shopping trend in Madrid! Check out our flights here.

 

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Daniel Ruiz

 

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Shopping in Ventimiglia

By Michael Shuermann from Easy Hiker

I still remember the first time we came into contact with Ventimiglia market – without even knowing that such a thing existed. We were boarding the local train from Nice to Menton, eastwards down the coast of the French Riviera in the direction of the Italian border. We were amazed to find it packed to the rafters at around 11 am on a Friday. From other trips on that line, we had been used to having a choice of seats on a weekday morning, but on that day, it seemed as though the entire population of the Cote d’Azur was on the move.

We did not find out until much later what was going on, but all these crowds were going to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia – the last stop on that line – for the popular weekly Friday street market.
The market mainly offers clothes, handbags and other leather goods – of mixed quality, it must be said, but occasionally, you can find well-crafted products at large discounts.

One of the market’s attractions apparently has something to do with the fact that – whisper it – the Italian police is less strict than its French counterpart in pursuing brand counterfeiters, so the French customs occasionally stop people on their way back from the market, asking them where they bought their shiny and new “Louis Vuitton handbag”. Be forwarned.

The market also features a section where farmers offer domestic food products. You can buy specialties from all over Italy here – Calabrian sausages, Parmesan cheese, olive oil – but also local produce such as sun-dried tomatoes and home-made pesto sauce, one of the things for which the province of Liguria (which includes Ventimiglia) is famous.

Have a coffee in one of the many charming little coffee houses around the 1930s municipio, the City Hall. You are only 15 km away from the French border town of Menton, but you will already feel a marked difference in the general liveliness (and noise levels) of the street life.
On market days, there is also a particularly large number of ambulant traders around who are walking from cafe to cafe peddling key chains that glow in the dark, small novelty household items and the like.

We have gone shopping many times at Ventimiglia market, and often, what we have bought from the peddlers turned out to be our most unforgettable purchases. What would our lives have been without the cicada fridge magnet that starts to sing when somebody approaches it?
You can reach Ventimiglia conveniently by local train (TER) from Nice. Trains leave frequently, generally every 30 minutes throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a valid ID!

By Michael Shuermann from Easy Hiker 

Why not take a trip to Nice? Have a look at our flights here!

 

 

 

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Gourmet Shopping in Paris

La Grande Epicerie

The food section of Le Bon Marché department store is a veritable paradise for foodies. It carries a vast selection of all types of exquisitely laid out products imaginable. The best French and international brands are featured here, and the establishment this year launched its own brand. The basement has a beautiful wine cellar divided according to the different French DOs, and a restaurant – Le Balthasar. Some areas, like the cheese and fish sections, have a bar counter and tasting tables. Also on sale are themed gift hampers (retro, aperitif, picnic, Breton, girly, etc.) which you can customise to your taste.

Ladurée

Probably the most famous brand of macarons worldwide and, no wonder – they are super! They come in chic boxes running from €17.10 for six pieces to €127.65 for 55 pieces. The range of flavours includes delicate macarons, such as fleur d’oranger or rose petal; sweet, like the chocolate or salted caramel, and original ones like the smooth fruit and spices or the Marie-Antoinette tea. They have various tea rooms at different spots in Paris with truly delightful retro-romanticist interior design. If you don’t have the time to drop in on on one of their establishments, you can get hold of a box of macarons just before you board your flight, as they have very handy booths at the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports. You can even buy them online.

Fauchon

This exclusive gourmet store has various branches around the city, although perhaps the most emblematic one is in the Place de la Madeleine. It comprises a pastry shop, a bakery and a food department with the best cheeses, foie gras, caviar, cold meats and seafood, among other delicacies, in addition to cava, wine and champagne. You can also eat right there in the interior, or out on the terrace.

La Maison Plisson

In the République neighbourhood, this food store and restaurant with a terrace is ideal for the bobos (bourgeois, bohemian) of Paris. The decoration is as impeccable as the selection of French and European wares, with the accent on organic, craft produce.The owners have roamed the various regions of France in search of the best producers and conducted blind tastings to ensure they’re getting the finest wines. The premises house a butchery, pork butchery, fruiterer's, bakery and cheese section and, in the basement, wines and packaged foods.

Mariage Frères

These tea specialists carry over 500 tea varieties from the world over, some with suggestive names like Neige de Jade, White Himalaya or Dragon. Whether classic or rare, they are all excellent quality. Their passion for this beverage encompasses their whole universe, with offerings such as tea sets, and tea-scented incense or candles. Their establishment in Le Marais quarter is priceless – colonial in style and with refined service – although they have other shops across Paris.

E. Dehillerin

The city’s oldest kitchenware store is a veritable culinary museum, with all kinds of pots, casseroles, frying pans, cocottes, pastry moulds and other cooking utensils. Particularly striking are the retro-style copper pots, although here you can find the most unexpected oddities, such as a duck press.

À la Mère de Famille

The oldest chocolate and sweet shop in Paris, founded in 1761 in the emblematic Montmartre, is a must-visit mecca for the sweet-toothed. Sweets, biscuits, macarons, candied fruit and a wide variety of enticing confectionery which you are advised to succumb to. They published a beautiful book which has a Spanish version by Lunwerg.

Text and photos by Isabel Loscertales of Gastronomistas.com

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Vinyl Record Route Around Europe

How many times have you heard that vinyl records are dead? Some say CDs and then the arrival of digital music buried vinyl records. But this is far from the truth – vinyl records are making a comeback and it is still one of people's favourite music formats. On 12 August, the world celebrates Vinyl Record Day, to remember the date on which Edison invented the phonograph back in 1877.

Nowadays, major cities across Europe are full of shops and street markets where you can go shopping and add to your personal collection. Fancy buying new records? Then come with us!

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