Here in Paris it’s not difficult to find the big luxury brand names. Their shop windows are featured in all the fashionable districts and beckon you in with their promise of name brand recognition. But there are also small, bespoke brands who are just as alluring. Imagine discovering Chanel when she was still sewing in her little atelier? Before her name became synonymous with global luxury? In this list I’ve ferreted out a small brand like that, a shoe brand – Zoe Lee Shoes. Think of these shoes and bags as quality craftsmanship in the age of billion dollar, big box luxury brands.
Are you one of the many who once again began indulging in their own handcrafts these last couple of years? If so, you will need to make a pilgrimage to La Mercerie Parisienne. When you do, you will feel like you’ve discovered Grandma’s hidden attic treasure chest full of fancy lace trimmings, shiny buttons and yards of popsicle-colored yarns!
And to temper the lust for acquisitiveness, it’s nice to turn one’s attention to the ephemeral – such as flowers. No visit to Paris would be complete without a browse through the landmark flower market – Marche aux Fleurs. It is such a fixture on the Ile de la Cite, dating back centuries, that it’s long since become part of the Parisian landscape. More than flowers, you’ll find here souvenirs, witty home decor and other worthy keepsakes. Likewise, a visit to the Paul Bert Serpette antiques and fine objets d’art is another must-do, especially for those for whom interior decorating is more than just a hobby.
So now you have the flowers, what about the wine?! La Cave du Chateau, the wine boutique now open at Prince Robert of Luxembourg’s private Paris mansion, Hotel Dillon, offers a stunning collection of wines from around France in a wide price range – and they can arrange for your purchases to be shipped home for you, too. Keeping on this sweet note of luxury, a box of fine chocolates from one of France’s finest, Patrick Roger, will please anyone on your gifts list.
Time is all too often the greatest of luxuries, especially when traveling. So if you have only an hour or two for shopping, Parisian department stores are an experience unto themselves and a requisite pilgrimage to Le Bon Marché, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Le BHV will do the trick.
For a thrilling bout of window shopping, both the Place Vendôme, filled only with precious jewelry boutiques such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Chanel & Chaumet and the nearby Rue St.-Honoré, where you’ll find Hermès, Moynat, Moncler and more, one right after the other, offer visual delights and irresistible temptations. And for authentic small boutique shopping head over to the gentrified Marais District in the heart of Paris.
Feathers, ribbons, bows, buttons and yarn…This is the kind of shop my grandmother would have spent an entire day in! If there is one thing that htese last couple of years have seen a renaissance in, it is handcrafted hobbies. Sewing, knitting and embroidery is not for everyone, but if it is for you, you will feel like you’ve stumbled through heaven’s pearly gates when you enter La Mercerie.
Looking for just that trimming for your throw pillows? Or perhaps those special buttons to pretty up a beloved old cardigan? If knitting patterns for your child, niece, nephew or gandkids are in order, you’ll find the absolute cutest ones here.
The setting, too, is picturesque. In summertime, the ivy-covered facade of this courtyard setting shop off the famous rue Francs Bourgeois in the Marais makes you feel like there is only one place on Earth you could ever be, France!
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Sewing, knitting, stitching…these are relaxing pastimes I fondly remember my grandmothers indulging in. This shop is like grandma’s hidden attic stock of buttons and baubles.
Paige’s expert tip: Just the right trimming on a pillow or a curtain, the right buttons on a blazer or a blouse, this is what maked the difference between off-the-rack and bespoke. This is one of those gems of a Parisian shops where it’s as much fun to wander through as it is to shop in. It’s also just a few steps from the Place des Vosges, so easy to find and convenient to get to.
So come with your shopping list of buttons and baubles and prepare to stock up!
The accurate name of this outdoor market is Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux Cité. That translates to the Cité Flower and Bird Market, which has been in this same spot since 1808. But most people refer to it just as the Flower Market, or the Marché aux Fleurs. At any rate, the birds are only there on Sundays, when they are displayed in their fine gilt cages, including some of the rarest of species.
The Paris flower market offers an in-the-countryside bucolic walk through stalls overflowing with flowers of every color, variety, scent and species. It’s open every day throughout the year (closed major holidays, of course, as this is France) from 8 am to 7pm. The green metallic pavillions that harbor thousands upon thousands of potted plants and cut flowers have been the subject of just as many sketches, paintings and other artistic tributes throughout the ages.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This market has existed here since 1808. On Sundays it’s a bird market, too.
Paige’s expert tip: This historic flower market was renamed this year in 2014 in honor of Queen Elizabeth II: Marché aux Fleurs – Reine Elizabeth II.
Photo courtesy of Aroma-Zone Paris copyright 2014
DIY beauty product junkies, you have just found your mecca. Once the exclusive domain of the experts who formulate their own product lines of skin lotions, face toners, shampoos and other delicious self-care products, this first-of-its-kind Parisian boutique shop puts all that in the hands of the walk-in consumer.
There is nothing that is left out here. You will find the necessary bottles, caps, dispensers, pumps and miwing containers. You’ll also find an assortment of base oils and creams such as avocado, apricot, aragon. For essential oils to blend with you have about a dozen assortments in lavendar alone. And that’s just the ‘L’s.’ The essentail oils are alphabetized with hundreds to choose from.
If makeup is something you want to play around with creating, this shop has plent of raw ingredients for those products, too. So go ahead, go wild! It’s all natural and organic, anyway.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This is like an In Real Life Etsy store for people who love to make their own beauty care and makeup products.
Paige’s expert tip: Do you like to blend your own fragrances and oils? This shop gives you all the tools to make any sort of blend of essential oils and base blends you can imagine. And it also provides the bottles and dispensers.
This is what I call my Perfume Walk. The beautiful Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, right in the heart of the cobble-stoned streets of the Marais, is lined with the boutiques of some of the best perfume makers in the world ” Diptyque, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Penhaligon’s. You will also find darling little boutiques selling other fashionable finds and many of the shops are open on Sundays, too. To focus on the perfume… Start at the Place des Vosges at this most beautiful square in the world’s only perfume shop, Christian Louis (18 Place des Vosges). Pick up the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois at the top of the square and walk direction Les Halles. You will pass perfume shops including L’Occitane, Guerlain, Fragonard and the aforementioned Diptyque (makers of wonderful candles, too !). When you stop in at Penhaligon’s, be sure to ask for one of them perfumed kerchief squares before you leave.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: In the Marais you can find it all – books, fashion, perfume, antiques, haute couture, men’s shoes, chocolate and even home goods.
Paige’s expert tip: “Music, painting and perfumes…these languages are universal and communicate the intelligence of the heart.” Perfumer Christian Louis. The Marais is full of fragrant shops, whether they be tea shops or fine perfume makers, your nose will delight in the shopping this neighborhood offers.
Clothing shopping for kids is one of the most entertaining kinds of shopping you can do in Paris. Some of the little bon-bon like shoes, tops, ensembles and accessories that these kids’ clothing shops come up with are so sweet they’re tempting to eat.
This is one of the best and even the name of the shop is what you often eat for breakfast as a child in France. Both boys and girls clothes can be found here and for expecting mothers, this is a much appreciated, high-end registry for the newborn. The other shop in Paris that is convenient and well-stocked is their Blvd. St. Germain location.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Shopping here for the kids is like going to a grownups’ candy store where everything comes in doll sizes.
Paige’s expert tip: These boutiques are around Paris and even throughout France but one of the best ones is here near Place Vendome. One of the things the French do best is fashion and they do it just as well for their kids, too.
The shopping here is upscale and luxury. It’s fitting because the theatrical venue here is where some of Paris’s biggest productions are staged ; Think Mamma Mia ! or Riverdance. One of the conveniences here is that you can exit the metro and enter directly into the Palais des Congres. For winter time shopping excursions that’s a plus.
Boutique luxury shops you’ll find awaiting you are : Boss, Gerard Darel, Lancel, George Rech and many more. There are one or two public seating areas where you can rest and log into the free WiFi. There are also a couple of eateries where you can grab a coffee and a snack. The ultra hotel, Concorde — La Fayette, is on the far side, once you’ve passed by most of the shops and boutiques. They, of course, offer several dining options.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Even though Paris is famous for its great little boutique districts, sometimes shopping in air conditioning is a luxury in and of itself.
Paige’s expert tip: The nice thing about this indoor shopping center is that it’s attached to a 5-star luxury hotel – the perfect place to have tea after your shopping spree.
Paris’ best wine shop can be found tucked discreetly inside a private mansion on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt in the posh Champs-Elysees district of the city. Hotel Dillon is the private mansion of Prince Robert of Luxembourg who is also proud owner of the legendary Bordeaux estate, Chateau Haut-Brion. It is in this newly opened to the public mansion that there is now housed one of the city’s finest wine boutiques.
It earns its title as one of the finest not only because you can find the 95 – 100 point bottles of wines here, but also because the curators of the cellar, namely sommelier Antoine P�trus working with Prince Robert, have unabashedly chosen to include their personal favorite wines be they from small and little-known producers from France’s diverse regions or superstar wine estates. Surprisingly, wandering into this luxurious setting from off the street you needn’t in the least feel intimidated. It is the boutique staff’s great pleasure to steer you towards a bottle of good wine that will suit any budget (yes, truly!) and any occasion.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: One of the world’s best luxury shopping streets. Along this street you find all the best luxury brands you’ve been dreaming of.
Paige’s expert tip: Monthly wine tastings are held in the boutique’s cellars with a spotlight on different regional wines each time. There is no fee for these tastings but reservations are an absolute must. You can find full details about the wine tastings and how to sign up on the boutique’s website.
Nearly everyone has heard of the famous French flea markets. Paris is even more well-known for them. The biggest one is this one just at the edge of the city, within a stone’s throw (easy walking distance anyway) from the metro station Porte de Clignancourt.
But to categorize this as a ‘flea market’ is a misnomer. The Paul Bert Serpette is a specialized market within the larger ‘flea market’ which spand several city blocks. This antiques, valuables and fine furniture market, cherished by the world’s top interior decorators, is a clearly defined market zone within the larger one.
The art and furniture dealers here are savvy and constantly on the look out for the treasure that others have missed. The market is only open Friday-Monday, because, truthfully, most of their business is done internationally by special order. During Maison & Objet and Paris Design Week, the designers and interior decorators looking for that authentic piece flock here in their ‘spare time.’
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Scouring this antiques and fine objects market is actually time-saving. In this concentrated area of the larger ‘flea market’ are all the best dealers.
Paige’s expert tip: Extraordinarlily well-organized, the hundred or so vendors at this antiques and fine, one-of-a-kind art and furniture market have on-site shipping service. So if you fall in love with that Robespierre bronze bust from the 18th c., no worries, someone is there to ship it directly back home for you.
In this annex boutique to the Picasso Museum you will find items specially designed around the theme of Picasso’s works, as well as a trove of Picasso-themes books. Hence the thick ceramic ware of basic solid colors like burnt orange and Riviera yellow can be yours to grace your holiday table setting in time for Christmas.
Toward the back of the boutique, whose physical presence is across the street from the actual museum, there is a space wholly devoted to children. In addition to the larger ticket items there are a fair number of knick-knack souvenirs in the form of pencils and writing tablets and such.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Museum shops offer unique items that are perfect for gift giving. They’re those types of things that you didn’t know you were looking for.
Paige’s expert tip: Look for this boutique just off the lovely Marais Place Thorigny, across the street from the museum’s main entrance. It’s worth seeking this little jewel out since the shops and the area surrounding it put you deep into the Marais, one of Paris’ loveliest shopping areas, filled with bespoke boutiques.
Photo courtesy of Hermès Logo copyirght Hermès
The luxuriousness of Herm—s. My favorite of their Parisian boutiques is the one on rue Faubourg St. Honor—, just behind the American Embassy. Why ? I find it the most welcoming, the most redolent of the Herm—s signature scents of leather horse saddles, printed silk scarves and the scent I remember from childhood, Cal—che.
For the sake of this listing, however, I’ll leave out the horse bridles and perfumes for now and focus just on the clothing. Available here are men’s, women’s, children’s and babies’ clothing in standard sizes. Need I explain that these are clothes that last a lifetime? The silks are the finest, the cashmeres the softest, the cotton the highest weave and most vigorously brushed, the tweeds and wools sourced from the world’s best suppliers.
For a thoroughly different, and very ccontemporary, Herm—s experience, check out their St.-Germain-des-Pr—s boutique.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: In the past decades when ‘fast fashion’ has reigned, classics like Hermes never compromised in their vision of creating fashion goods to last a lifetime.
Paige’s expert tip: If you come out of this shop with nothing but a silk scarf for her and silk tie for him, still, you will have accomplished much. Because there isn’t anything you couldn’t wear with those and thus you could always say that you are dressed in Hermes.