Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.
Paris is one of the great shopping destinations in the world, and even die-hard, seasoned shopaholics can’t get enough retail therapy. France practically invented the term luxury brand with some of the top luxury purveyors in the world such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Givenchy, Hermes, and Goyard. One can also shop for the best of Parisian chic at the Grand Magasins/Department stores Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, and Le Bon Marche.
I personally like to shop at small neighborhood boutiques that carry exclusively French or Parisian made goods, since I send gifts to friends and family overseas and want to insure they can’t buy the same thing at home.
Here is a list of five of my favorite shops.
In the current world of emails, social media, and E-cards, paper and stationery shops are almost extinct but in this charming boutique in the Marais, the paper business is alive and well. Shop proprietor Eric de Tugny is just as charming as his shop and also happens to be a master calligrapher. On any given day when you walk into the shop you will catch Eric diligently dipping his pen into his inkwell, penning invitations for the elite and top brass of Paris. It makes sense that the shop specializes in accessories for calligraphy selling ink (over 20 colors), nibs, inkwells, inkpads, and of course, quill pens. Melodie Graphiques also carries an extensive line of handcrafted greeting cards, stationery, notebooks, and leather and cloth bound journals.
10 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004
I always think food gifts are a safe, no-fault choice, as they are always the right size and can’t be returned.
Jacques Genin has turned the craft of chocolate and pastry making into an art form. His shops in the Marais and Saint Germain are like art galleries, showing off his exquisite looking and tasting creations such as chocolates, caramels, fruit jellies, and tarts. They are smartly packaged in brushed steel square and rectangular boxes, a nice keepsake long after the goodies inside are eaten. If you need inexpensive gifts in bulk, the 11€ square tin of 9 chocolates is a wise choice.
Marais shop- 133 rue de Turenne, 75003
St. Germain shop- 27 rue de Varenne, 75007
Another great food gift is tea. Tea lovers are a passionate tribe who treasure their ancient tea drinking ritual.
Dammaan Freres is the most beautiful teashop I’ve ever seen. Located on the historic Places des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris, the Dammaan Freres brand dates from 1692, and the original hand-painted wooden ceiling beams are still intact from 1611. The shop carries over 200 varieties of tea from around the globe, including black, green, orange, and Roobois. Christmas teas are packaged in festive red and green tins and gift sets include handsome carrying cases with tea strainers. Dammaan Freres also sells all the proper accessories for tea drinking including glass, ceramic, and cast iron teapots, timers, teacups, and strainers.
15 Place des Vosges, 75004
Who doesn’t like soft, irresistible cashmere? Eric Bompard specializes in everything cashmere, carrying sweaters, hats, gloves, coats, pants, and socks. There’s a diverse selection of men’s, women’s, and children’s sweater styles including V-neck, crew neck, cardigans, turtlenecks, and ponchos in vast variety of colors. This is my go to store for cashmere. Although this is a chain, the products are made in France.
31 Rue du Bac, 75007
Astier de Vilatte
When people ask me what my favorite shops are in Paris, Astier de Vilatte is always at the top of my list. Astier de Vilatte makes the most delicate, hand-blown porcelain china all in white, and I wish I could own one of everything in the shop. My favorite items are the teacups with the swirled handles. One of their divine specialties is the candles with scents from cities around the world, from Delhi to Naples to Provincetown, all of which come with an optional white porcelain stopper. The shop also carries other fun gift items, such as incense sticks, notebooks, jewelry, hand cream, and soap.
Astier de Vilatte
173 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001