It's that time of year again, summer is over, the days are getting shorter and Christmas is approaching fast. If you're all out of ideas and dreading starting your Christmas shopping this year, why not make a weekend break of it? You can take the pain out of present buying, bring back something a bit different from the usual high street gifts for your friends and family, and discover a new city at the same time.
To help inspire you, we've pulled together some ideas for gifts that you can bring back and that won't break the bank. Beautifully packaged toiletries, food and drink make lovely presents, especially when they come from abroad so are that bit more special. And, with Eurostar's generous 2-bag luggage allowance you don't have to worry about bringing it all back. So, take an empty case with you to fill up with delicious goodies for gifts, stocking fillers and your Christmas table.
Paris is famous for fine food, luxury goods and Haute Couture, but you can still find plenty of gift-worthy items at a reasonable cost in the City of Lights. Toiletries are always a good gift and there are lots of very good, mid-range products available so, head into any decent-sized pharmacy for soaps, body oils, creams and other potions.
If you can take time off from sightseeing in this little jewel of a town, Bruges isn't a bad place to do some Christmas shopping along the way. Obviously, chocolate leaps to mind when you think of Belgium, and who's going to complain about getting a beautifully wrapped box of truffles under the tree on Christmas morning? Not me!
Though not the prettiest town in the Netherlands, Rotterdam makes up for its lack of architectural charm with bags of energy and convenience. At just over 3 hours from London, it's easy to get to and a great place for shopping. You'll find all the usual high street brands, but also home grown shops like the Hema, for gadgets and homeware and The Sting, for reasonably priced clothing.
From sweet scents to the strongest of cheeses, leave plenty of space in your case for these Parisian treats.
The best things to buy in Bruges to bring back as gifts.
A round up of some of the best Christmas markets around Europe.
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