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8 reasons why we love the Paris end of Collins Street

Heritage buildings, high fashion and hot restaurants. Here are 8 reasons to spend a while wandering the Paris end of Collins Street.

A picturesque tree lined city street

Collins Street

The historic architecture

The Block Arcade opened in 1892, inspired by Milan’s grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It features mosaic floors, carved stone and glass-dome ceilings. This makes it a spectacular home to some of the city’s sweetest boutiques. Descend the marbled stairs to Creswick Woollen Mills and uncover Victorian-made alpaca quilts. Or let the sparkling windows of Gewurzhaus invite you into their spice temple – replete with high ceilings and hardwood floors.
 
The Royal Arcade opened its doors in 1870, becoming Melbourne’s first (and one of Australia’s oldest) shopping arcades. The opulent arcade is known for its two carved statues of historical figures Gog and Magog, who guard the ornate Gaunt’s clock
 
What was one of Melbourne’s highest buildings back in 1932, the Manchester Unity Building is now home to a diverse mix of tenantsBook in for a tour to explore the polished brass, black marble and famous hidden art deco boardroom.
 
The Athenaeum Theatre is the oldest public institution in Victoria, dating back to 1839. The theatre hosts a range of live performances spanning comedy, music and theatre.  Further down the street, you’ll find the heritage-listed Paul Smith building. With its red brick facade and stained glass windows, it is a perfect Instagram moment.
Shops in an old fashioned arcade with a dome ceiling

The historic Block Arcade

It’s Melbourne’s home of luxe shopping

With many international labels opening flagship stores along Collins Street, it is fast becoming a go-to for luxe shopping. There’s Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Dior, Fendi and Burberry, not to mention Versace and Bottega Veneta – you’ll need a day to explore them all. If it’s a bit of sparkle you’re looking for, Cartier and Tiffany & Co will dazzle with diamonds. 
 
The recently refurbished Gucci is not for the faint-hearted. Be prepared to line up before entering this three-storey shoppers dream which now occupies over 4,500 square metres. Head to Harrolds to find more designer labels including Valentino, Saint Laurent and Tom Ford.  If you’ve never met a scent you didn’t like, then MetaScent is the bespoke perfumery for you. This bright and airy boutique allows you to create your own signature scent from their line of luxury fragrances. If you want a sneak peek behind the perfumery curtain, book in for one of their weekly workshops.
 
An icon among Melbourne’s most stylish, Christine on Collins is known for their hand-picked collection of elegant accessories. Their location, hidden away up two flights of stairs in a charming old building, adds to the mystique. Or select some of the slickest designs in town at Georg Jensen, where even the expertly crafted water jugs look like pieces of art.
The exterior and windows of a luxury clothes shop

Burberry on Collins Street

It’s one of the best places to see a show 

From high-profile musicals to film festivals and independent theatre, Collins Street is a hub for live shows. See a show at the Athenaeum Theatre, hit The Capitol for the latest ACMI season or pop in for a quirky performance at the Butterfly Club. Then find emerging, independent art and theatre at Fortyfivedownstairs on Flinders Lane.

It’s great for a city staycation

Treat yourself to a bit of glamour and book in for a stay at the French-inspired Sofitel Melbourne. Relax and unwind at the Westin with a range of wellbeing programs on offer. If you stay at Novotel Melbourne, the St Collins Lane shopping and dining mecca is at your doorstep.  Book a stay at Grand Hyatt Melbourne or head a little further west to the historic InterContinental Melbourne. Don’t forget to book in at Botanica Day Spa while you’re there. Just opposite Parliament House is the historic Hotel Windsor – and the famous Cricketers Bar.

The entrance to a grand old hotel

Hotel Windsor

It’s home to the only Dr Seuss gallery in Victoria 

Tucked away in the Block Arcade, is The Art of Dr Seuss, one of only two Dr Seuss galleries in the Southern Hemisphere. From The Cat in the Hat to Green Eggs and Ham, there is a huge range of limited edition illustrations to browse or buy.

There’s an abundance of hidden laneways nearby 

Some of Melbourne’s most famous spots are minutes away, from Hosier Lane to Duckboard Place. But there’s also plenty to explore immediately off the strip, including Alfred Place, home to Bistro Garcon, re-opening in Feb. Check out Manchester Lane for a spot of shopping at stores like The Sure Store, Design a Space and Bared Footwear. Wander down George Parade and you’ll find all-day Italian dining at Il Solito Posto. Howey Place is packed full of gems like Dafael Dolls and Bears, nevenka and Melko. Take another turn into Presgrave Place to discover a kaleidoscope of street art then stop in for a drink at Bar Americano

Small framed images on a wall surrounded by street art

Presgrave Place

Up-market (or should we say, upstairs) dining

Take the escalator to the St Collins Lane food hall, offering a more sophisticated lunchtime choice. Order from different corners of the world at Saint Dreux, Meat the Challenge, Think Asia and more. Up the other end of Collins, Mexican taqueria Mamasita lies in wait with a stellar range of tequilas and treats. Or pop up to Uncle for quality Vietnamese and exotic cocktails. 

There are so many places for high tea 

Classic, European or English-themed? Whatever your high tea preference, there’s plenty of top teas on offer. Hopetoun Tea Rooms draws daily crowds to The Block Arcade. Drop in for their English-style sandwiches, pinwheels, scones and signature petit fours. Don’t forget to keep your camera handy to snap their famous cake window. Collins Kitchen at the Grand Hyatt offers French-inspired ‘High Tea by Christina Re’, serving crab salad profiteroles, macarons and more. Or for a European-style high tea like no other, try Royal St Collins in St Collins Lane. For something a little different, High Seas at the Westin is a culinary feast for seafood lovers.