Is there anything in pariticular that interests you,, or do you just like to buy for the sake of it?
I have seen some very nice table linen in Paris. there are also some gourmet food stores that have many great gift ideas.
There must hundreds of one-of-a-kind stores in Paris that sell stuff you haven't in the USA! you just have to walk all around the 4th, 6th, 7th districts..
3CONILS, that is good to hear. The shopping threads I had seen here seemed to mention merchandise that is already easily available in the US, so I don't see much point to that. I like the table linen idea; we can always use more placemats. Is there anything else unique you think would make a good souvenir?
joan1, I don't know what I'm interested in. I would like a uniquely French souvenir (beyond a fridge magnet) and am wondering what the options are. For example, I grew up in Chicago. When we went to visit out-of-town relatives, we brought them Frango mints from Marshall Field's, as they were only available there. However, you can now get them anywhere in whatever chain currently owns Field's, and from what I can tell in my local mall (Cartier, etc.) the same is true of French exports.
I do need a new purse, but Louis Vuitton and Longchamp (two of the most lovely, imo) are available here. Unless perhaps there are certain models only available in France?
One option I had seen here a while ago was an original work of art; I will be keeping my eyes out for something like that.
Oh come now - this is like asking if there are stores besides huge suburban chains in NYC or DC.
There are 1000s of tiny stores that specialize in all sort of things - steak knives, cookware, umbrellas....
There are probably over a 1000 small designers we've never heard of selling unique or cutting edge fashions. We have Satellite and Zadig & Voltaire here now but I doubt they're in DC....
What I tend to do is walk around Paris for a few hours and notice what the trendy accessory is that isnt here yet. Never fails I'm 1-2 years ahead of when it hits here.
I have a favorite jewelry designer who I visit each time I am in Paris. His name is Didier Germain and he crafts the most wonderful silver necklaces, bracelets and rings. The shop is at 54 rue Ecoles maybe 1/2 to one block from St. Jacques and on the Seine side of the street.
His wife runs the shop and she is delightful. I would guess their price range from 50 euros to 500 euros.
We find the Pylones stores a real hoot for chic and colourful gear, from painted kitchen gadgets to office equipment, umbrellas etc. However, I think they now have a store in the US.
We treated ourselves to a set of Laguiole steak knives, uniquely created by hand, with the little bee on the back and the decorative inlays in the handle. You find them all over France and the balance in the hand and on the plate is amazing. We got olive wood and brushed steel, as sharp as razors, about E300 for a set of 6, so not cheap. Buying them was also a treat because we went to a proper coutellier in Paris (you will see these all over France selling some very wicked looking knives) and so had the full experience. It is not that you can't get them elsewhere, as good kitchen shops do import them, it is the idea that you got them in France and they are something that you used across France. We use them every time we have steak and are constantly reminded of France.
There's an umbrella shop on Blvd. St. Germain that sells spectacular stuff, much of which you won't find anywhere else. It's the combination of two shops, one of which dates from the mid-18th century and the other from slightly less far back. As you walk Blvd. St. Germain with the river on your right, it's a few blocks past St. Germain des Pres, on the right-hand side of the Boulevard. I've fogotten the name right now, but you cannot miss it.
NO food tastes the same on either side of the Atlantic, even products that wear the same label. The American version of Maille's Dijon mustard is much sweeter and milder than the original French product for instance. And from cheeses (OK, slightly illegal to import... ) to salad dressing, you name it, everything tastes different and could be fun to bring back. But it might not be your thing.
I've been shopping in Paris for over 3 decades and find some items that are not always easy to find here. However, I do also buy items like Vuitton that cost less there. I've been buying it there since 1980. We've done a Vuitton thread here as that's a question that comes up a lot.
There are plenty of items, for the house that can be had in Paris...table linens, tableware, glassware, etc. There's a lot I can get here in L.A., but sometime in Paris, the merchandise is different. It all depends on what the buyers buy at different stores. So, I get a wider variety of merchandise.
As for handbags, Paris is handbag heaven. That's what I basically shop for there. I usually stay in the 6th, shopping heaven, and where a lot of the smaller boutiques are. But, also the 7th and the Marais are great for smaller boutiques. And there's my all-time favorite department store, Bon Marche, in the 7th. However, I also go to Galeries Layfayette and Printemps. Happy Travels!
As for the steak knives, with the bee on them, mentioned above, those are easy to find at T.J.Maxx, for those living in the States. I've bought many boxes of them, throughout the years, for gifts and at half price. So, those kind of items I tend to buy at home, as not to deduct from my $800. duty-free limit. Happy Travels!