Heed our advice: leave plenty of case-space before heading to Paris. It can be hard to exercise restraint when faced with the city’s ever-so-chic boutiques, so opt instead for delicious treats to bring home. Drop by La Grande Épicerie for artisanal preserves, hand-strung charcuterie and creamy Bordier butter (the smoked variety gets our vote). Pharmacies still hide a few beauty secrets: a tube of Homéoplasmine ointment will soothe everything from chapped lips to dry elbows. More modish bounty awaits at concept stores: Centre Commercial, L’Éclaireur and Nous prove there’s plenty of life after Colette. Need more inspiration? Here are five off-piste picks.
For Christmas feasting, in-the-know shoppers head to this Haut Marais deli for sides of salmon, cold-smoked over alder wood and cut into succulent slices. Shelves are stocked with produce from south-west France, from tins of caviar d’Aquitaine to Armagnac-laced terrines. While you’re here, pick up a jar or two of the creamy taramasalata, generously laced with crab meat or spiked with Espelette pepper.
Gilles Vérot is known in Paris (and beyond) for his stellar charcuterie, from rich, truffle-laced saucisson to silky, slow-cooked rillettes. Come Christmas, though, it’s all about his show-stealing pâté en croûte, filled with pistachio-studded pork, perhaps, or fig-layered duck breast. Covered in intricate pastry-work, it’s a failsafe festive standby in case of unexpected guests.
In business since 1761, Paris’s oldest sweet shop still does a roaring trade. Behind a historic green-and-gold façade, it’s gloriously old-fashioned, with its polished wooden counter, aproned staff and jars of brightly coloured bonbons. As Christmas approaches, exquisite marron glacés are added to its repertoire: wonderfully sticky candied chestnuts, wrapped in a twist of gold foil.
This bright, airy interiors store is beautifully pared-back – and, as its devotees know, stocked with must-haves for savvy dinner hosts. If your Christmas tableware’s not quite up to scratch, it’s the ideal place to upgrade. Plump for a set of Portuguese stoneware plates or brace of flirtatious champagne coupes. Shopping complete, head to its Scandi-style café for a restorative cinnamon bun.
There’s hardly room to swing a baguette in Laurent Dubois’ cheese kingdom, where visitors can nibble their way through samples in search of fromage nirvana. Comté aged onsite might float your boat, or perhaps you’ll leave with quince-layered Roquefort (vacuum-packed for travel, bien sûr). Laurent won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France – the Oscar of the craft world.
Add some exoticism to your sudsing sessions with this irresistible yuzu soap from L’Officine Universelle Buly. Artist-designer Ramdane Touhami has given the beauty brand a modern makeover: cue Instagram-ready packaging a-go-go. Drop by the boutique on rue de Saintonge, where in-house Grand Café Tortoni serves delicate madeleines and dreamy hot chocolate.
Add Amélie charm to any outfit with Macon & Lesquoy’s kooky jewellery. We love the twinkly, sequinned brooches, which cleverly conceal tears and rips in clothing. The Paris-themed box of four sweet hand-embroidered pins could be shared with friends (or solo-hogged). There’s a multitude of accessories to pick from, including mice, mouth and magic-bunny motifs.
Crêpe to your heart’s content at beloved Breizh Café, then pop in next door to pick up their famous pancakes’ key components. The tiny grocery’s well stocked with buckwheat, Bordier butter and salted-caramel spread. Further Brittany-sourced temptation comes in the form of zingy perry (a pear spin on cider), artisanal jam and flavour-packed pasta.
Got a favourite Parisian ’hood? Flaunt it with Kerzon’s covetable neighbourhood-inspired candles, scents and accessories. Take an olfactory stroll through Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Île Saint-Louis and Place des Vosges, all inspired by iconic moments in the city. Other cues to part from your euros include fancy matches, illustrated maps and perfumed skin mists.
Paris is all about people watching, as you drink coffee on a café terrace.
An easy guide by district to help you decide on the best place to stay on your city break.
From hip food to cutting-edge art, Le Marais packs in the very best of Paris.