So much shopping, so little time, so many euros! While there are ways to cut corners on your Parisian vacation, there’s no denying that a visit to the City of Light can be tough on your wallet. All the same, you’ll want to go home with some small treasures, preferably ones that won’t require an advance on your credit card. And with the airlines increasingly cutting back on luggage allowances, something light in weight makes perfect sense as well. Here are a few ideas for unforgettable Parisian souvenirs (gifts for a friend or for yourself!) that are both light on your wallet and on your luggage.
A T-Shirt from Anne Maisonneuve
These aren’t the tacky tourist tops you’ll find in the shops around Notre Dame or on the rue de Rivoli. They’re one-of-a-kind confections in whimsical designs. Who could resist an Eiffel Tower made of macarons or the word amour spelled out in rose petals? Anne Maisonneuve also features a fun collection of colorful costume jewelry and scarves. Hint: if you run out of time, you can order these shirts online. They range from 19 euros for a tank with spaghetti straps to 48 euros for the long-sleeved variety.
112, blvd Raspail, in the 6th Arrondissement.
Metro: Vavin, Notre Dame des Champs or St.-Placide
Travel Sacs from Fragonard
Best known for its scented soaps and perfumes, Fragonard also stocks adorable Parisian souvenirs, many lovingly embroidered. My favorite are the charmingly designed drawstring sacs that make packing for your next trip both a pleasure and a snap (20–24 euros, depending on the size). Pick one for your shoes, another for your delicates. Perfect for you, your mom or your BFF.
Fragonard has multiple locations in Paris, including:
Carrousel du Louvre, 99, rue Rivoli, in the 1st Arrondissement.
51, rue des Francs Bourgeois, in the 4th.
203, rue St.-Honoré, in the 1st.
196, blvd St.-Germain, in the 7th.
1 bis, rue Tardieu, in the 18th.
Save the planet and have some fun at the same time. Shopping bags with talking vegetables and funny expressions in French by Derrière la Porte look fab, cost less than 10 euros, lie flat in the bottom of your suitcase and have a multitude of uses: groceries, picnics, beach, you name it. You can find these colorful plasticized bags at a neighborhood droguerie, kind of a cross between a housewares and hardware store. Or check out any location of La Vaissellerie, including:
92, rue St.-Antoine, in the 4th Arrondissement.
80, blvd Haussmann, in the 8th.
85, rue de Rennes, in the 6th.
Pouches of Every Size and for Every Budget
If your budget doesn’t permit a new handbag, consider a zippered pouch, perfect for cosmetics or change. Plus, no proper Parisienne would be caught dead without a trousse for pens and pencils. Go fun and funky with one by Derrière la Porte or upscale with a case from Longchamp. My personal favorite? Those by French artist Ben for Quo Vadis—black with white cursive lettering. You can find these for well under 10 euros (along with a selection of blank books and pads) in many stationery stores or reliably at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysées.
Something for Your Knickknack Shelf
You may know about Limoges boxes, but how about some tiny hand-painted representations of Parisians and their surroundings? There’s the elegant lady seated at a café, a Guimard metro entrance, a Wallace fountain or a neighborhood boulangerie. Made by Enesco, these little figurines (no more than a half-inch tall) can be found at the locations below. Prices begin at 11 euros and range up to 30, depending on the size and detail of the figurine.
232, rue de Rivoli
Metro: Concorde, Tuileries
L’Ile aux Trésors
23, rue St.-Louis-en-l’Ile
Metro: Pont Marie
Anne Schwartz left behind a public policy career in Washington, DC, when her husband got a new job assignment in Paris in 2007. She blogs about her adventures in the City of Light at Just Another American in Paris and provides practical information to Anglophone expats at Posted in Paris.
Editor’s note: Sometimes I wish I could just take home Paris as a souvenir. Failing that, downloading one of our walking tours, particularly the Cherche Midi and Marais tours, will be helpful to you as guides to some of the better shopping areas in Paris.http://girlsguidetoparis.com/archives/girls-guide-tours