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She Goes Gift Shopping in Paris

 

American Journeywoman Jeanne Feldman moved to Paris in 1991. Once there, she perfected her "best buy" shopping and intercultural communications skills, leading her to write and publish the shopping guide, "Best Buys and Bargains in Paris". We asked Jeanne if she would share some of her Paris shopping secrets with female travellers coming to her part of the world. She writes...


Although Paris is an expensive city, if you know where to look, you can still find lovely yet inexpensive gifts that are truly "French". In fact, the choice is big when you know where to look and what to look for. By inexpensive, I mean gifts within a price range of 5 to 15 euros. I also know that gifts must be packed into a suitcase and brought back home intact!

Gourmet food...

What is more French than gourmet food? So, why not start your gift search in the gourmet supermarkets in Paris, one of the best being La Grande Epicerie de Paris at 38 rue de Sèvres, just next to the department store Le Bon Marché (Metro Sèvres-Babylone). Parisians love their salon de thés, especially Marriage Frères, which makes their own exotic tea blends found, pre-packaged, in La Grande Epicerie. You can also find delicious herbal tea blends such as pear-vanilla (poire-vanille), plus packages of ground coffee, tins of French candy and biscuits, and even the French specialty marrons glacés or candied chestnuts. While there, you can also enjoy the abundant food displays which are splendid.


Chocolate specialties...

What about giving chocolate as a gift? There are small artisanal or hand-made-chocolate stores all over Paris. One I really like is about as centrally located as you could wish. It's called Charles Chocolatier, 15 rue Montorgeuil (Metro/RER Les Halles). If you're on a budget, you can purchase hand-made, elegant chocolate bars (tablettes) for under 3 euros. I really like Charles Chocolatier because they make chocolat à l'ancienne. This means pure dark chocolate made from cocoa, cocoa butter and flavorings. Yum!


Honey specialties...

Another idea for a "French" gift is a beeswax candle in the shape of a teddy bear, cow or rooster found in La Maison du Miel, 24 rue Vignon (Metro Madeleine or Havre Caumartin). As the name suggests, this store specializes in honey and honey derivatives. Although a jar of honey may not be the ideal gift to transport in your suitcase, they also sell honey nougat, cake and candy. Plus they have a special cake called pain d'épice that is a sort of French gingerbread.


Bath products...

Another inexpensive gift is scented soap. Along with bathsalts, they can be found in just about any parapharmacie in Paris. Parapharmacies carry all sorts of beauty and health care items, and the perfumed soap comes in a variety of scents such as hazelnut, almond and water lily. They are packaged in vibrant colors, making very attractive gifts. One parapharmacie I can recommend is Parapharmacie du Forum des Halles, 305 Porte Lescot (Metro/RER Les Halles). The Forum des Halles is a large underground shopping center; just find the FNAC electronics store, and the parapharmacie is right next door.

 

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