While, undoubtedly there are many great places to shop in the world, there is something about shopping in Switzerland that stands out. With streets like Bahnhofstrasse, Rue du Marché and Rue du Rhône in Geneva, Switzerland’s shopping districts have that extra layer of sparkle. From choosing between seductively soft fabrics, polished heels that put perfection to poise, the glitter of silver and diamonds or the deep musty smell of fresh suede leather. Switzerland's sparkle is felt best with shopping bags swinging from your hands as you walk through the tree laned manicured boulevards. Sure you could always go to therapy to feel better about yourself, but let’s be honest, shopping costs about the same and you get a new outfit by the end of it.
So to start our Switzerland shopping extravaganza, let’s go to the country’s commerce and fashion capital of Zurich. For well over a century now Bahnhofstrasse remains to be one of the most beautiful and in that manner, expensive shopping streets in the world. Famous for its selection of upmarket retailers, it attracts luxury shoppers at the highest end of the retailing world. Yet, as if that exclusivity wasn’t enough, it is beautifully situated alongside the river Limmat, which gives the strip a wonderfully calm and serene ambience. Treat yourself to a trinket or two when you shop amidst the luxurious stores, after all I’m a big believer that on working hard, one is only obligated to shop harder. Enjoy a facial or massage treatment at the French beauty store Marionnaud. At the Grieder outlet mall top popular luxury brands can all be found conveniently under one roof, including Burberry, Isabel Marant, Akris, Chloé, Diane von Fürstenberg and Stella McCartney.
Retro, grunge and most of all inescapably iconic a visit to Freitag is a must. The bags of Markus and Daniel Freitag, should not require any introduction. Unlike anything else preceding them (and ever since for that matter) their individually designed bags are made of truck tarps, inner tubes, seat belts and are exceptionally popular. Yet perhaps the only thing more iconic than their fashion accessories is their outlet store in West Zurich which is comprised of a series of cargo containers that have been piled on top of each other. Peruse through the great selection available at the warehouse and take a tour to the top of the container tower for a whole new outlook on the city of Zurich.
For a slice of some of my favourite stores in Geneva make sure to visit the Le Bal des Créateurs. Launching as a concept store come hair salon, it was devised by the outrageously artistic Christophe Durand. Hyper cool and full of attitude, this hairdresser is housed in an old art gallery, but now after your dye, blow and dry you can take a few moments moratorium and enter the attached bookshop and beauty room. The hyper trendy design makes it a constant attraction to hipsters, local designers and the fashion press who are often found milling around at the pop-up shops and style parties all sporting the latest hair-do and sipping the Le Bal des Créateurs specialty party drink - the green bubble tea. Curious? Well so you should be. Located on the edge of the Quartier des Bains district, it has become a gateway to Zurich’s edgy and stylish art scene.
Housed in a former garage with a tree growing in its center this design workshop, come vintage emporium, come cafe bar, is Les Enfants Terribles. With this shop’s mischievous character you can easily see how this retail venue may have earned its name. Super cool and never-ever boring the locals stop by to pick up a vintage gem or two. Albeit, whilst these gems quite possibly may have been owned by their grandmothers, customers are not hesitating to spill the cash on these now timeless vintage pieces to decorate their homes. As a concept store it bears an industrial heritage and indeed all the products whilst cool are also practical. Tinged metal storage canisters sit a top a HAY kitchen table while the original movie posters from the King and I, jostle for wall space amidst antique sideboards that are topped with BTC lamps in what comes across as a wild rampage of colour and style. Yet as varied as the merchandise is, they all carry that promise of giving you home a unique and super trendy edge, which I feel I can’t help but to desperately want.
The pretty Swiss town of Lausanne never loses its charm, but never more so as you wander through the Lausanne market that is held every week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In a vibrant kaleidoscope of colour, an addictive swirl of mixed aromas and amidst a constant buzz of noise you can stroll through stalls sporting fresh produce, cakes, cheeses, spices and all the bizarre and curious odds and ends that comes with bric-a-brac. The fresh fruit and vegetables create an enticing splash of colour on Rue de Bourg, but make sure to follow your nose in a scent trail that will lead you to cheeses, charcuterie and fresh baked bread rolls.
To be in Switzerland and not to eat chocolate is considered on similar terms of committing crimes against humanity. Therefore for the purpose of making sure not to trespass on the nation’s goodwill stop by Durig Chocolatier, quite possibly the best chocolatiers in Lausanne. The master chef Dan Durig selects only organic, fair trade cocoa beans which he uses to craft individual chocolates and pralines. When I came into their store on Avenue d’Ouchy I picked up a few little treats, one was a box of pralines that was beautifully wrapped in a purple gift box with pretty ribbons, a selection of novelty chocolate animals and another all-too-cute box of nougats and covered chocolate beans. The question of course is now that i bought all these lovely treats, I had to think of who I should give them too? Then again, I know of one person who will certainly enjoy them very much. Hmm, let’s take a quick glimpse at them again as they look and smell just so good...
For every sense of style, taste and trend, rent a luxury car in Switzerland for your own journey of retail escapades.