No doubt that your friends and family would love a Parisian present for Christmas this year. Steer clear of the cliché keychains and Eiffel Tower t-shirts, and instead pick from one of these unique, authentic, and fun ideas for Frenchy gifts they're sure to love.
If you’ve ever received a miniature Eiffel tower or a cushion embroidered with Sacré-Coeur, you’ll appreciate that not everything that comes from Paris is chic. But there are plenty of things you can gift from Paris that will delight your friends and family without provoking an eye roll.
If either you or a friend has lived in or simply fallen in love with a certain arrondissement, why not gift something accordingly? Parigramme publishes lovely books called Mémoires des rues for each arrondissement, in which old black and white photos recall the time between 1900 and 1940. Although the texts are in French, the photos speak for themselves (available at FNAC).
Alternatively, the gift shop in the Hôtel de Ville sells water bottles stamped with arrondissement numbers, or for some wearable art, browse through the Urbansider online boutique and pick up an iconic Kasia Dietz shopper, with a Paris postal code printed on it.
Do you adore those enamel blue and green street signs? Many souvenir shops sell knock-offs, but if you want something extra special and personal, get one made for the rue that really means something to you or your friend. At BHV, downstairs in the ‘bricolage’ department, you can order a street sign for around 200€.
Fun for the whole family, this is a gigantic map of Paris just waiting to be colored in. Hang it up in the kitchen or hall and you and your kids can have hours of fun while learning your way around Paris. Available at Fleux in the Marais and other retailers throughout Paris, or online at Omy.
No Parisienne’s wardrobe is without one: the classic striped top made chic by Coco Chanel goes with absolutely everything and is oh-so-French. Dress it up, dress it down, it always fits. The best are from the brands Petit Bateau and Saint James.
Yes, of course, you could just pop into Ladurée and buy a set of macarons, and everybody would love you for it. But how about giving someone the skills to make their own? Le Foodist offers courses that teach you – in English – how to make macarons, croissants, baguettes, or anything else French that your taste buds might have taken a fancy to. All courses are half-day, so it’s easy to fit this gourmet gift idea into your schedule. Learn more at www.lefoodist.com.
Illustrator Sempé captures Parisian life down to the tiniest coffee cup. His drawings of life in the city speak to those who have visited and lived here, and there is an illustration for everyone. Go to a print shop, such as image-republic at 36 Rue Bayen in the 17th, and look through their posters, then pick one out and get it framed right then and there for the perfect present. FNAC also has a limited selection of prints, some pre-framed.
There are some areas of Paris that haven’t changed at all over the last few centuries. Yes, the fashion and modes of transportation have moved on, but otherwise, old photographs and postcards prove that Paris is indeed timeless. Digging through the treasures available at Images & Portraits Fabien Breuvart (37 Rue Charlot, 3eme, next to the Marché des Enfants Rouges) is almost more fun than owning one of the treasures you’re sure to find.
To a lot of people, Paris is still the City of Art. We all have this phantasmagoric image of the bohème life at the turn of the 20th century - from Toulouse Lautrec’s Montmartre to Picasso’s Bateau Lavoir.
If you love books, then you're in for a treat in Paris! Narrowing the best shops for book lovers down to just five is a difficult task, but to help my fellow traveling bookworms, I'm sure going to give it a try, probably cheating a little as I go.