Come Noël, finding Paris gifts becomes a seasonal sport. The hard part is choosing between all the ideas on offer. This year, there is a deluge of girly delights. Not to say it isn’t enjoyable shopping for your man. Somehow, it’s just more . . . natural to shop for the ladies. Here are my top 10 suggestions:
1. An old-fashioned, fluffy Caron powder puff
Supposedly it’s made of cygnet (baby swan) down. Caron has its own stores but these are also available at the Bon Marché. I can’t think of anything more feminine, especially the colors.
2. Ivoire by Balmain
A wonderful perfume world rarity, this has just been reissued with retro packaging.
3. 75 Parisiennes
This new coffee-table book by Baudouin Winckler features portraits of Parisiennes in their homes. This enterprising photographer stopped anyone he saw and fancied shooting. The result is a peek into secret worlds, not to mention a lot of local style. Available in bookstores or directly from Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière.
4. A bottle of beautiful ink named after something romantic (espresso, violets, etc.) with a fountain pen
Mélodies Graphiques, a boutique papeterie, is run by a famous calligrapher and stocks utterly beautiful cards, old-fashioned papers and a few old French paper goods. (These include a lettering manual for “how to write in English.”)
5. A DVD of the 1945 film classic Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis)
This is the most romantic French film ever made, which, in a landmark project, has been wonderfully restored. If your recipient can’t play European DVDs, you can find the Criterion version on Amazon. Combine either with the Cinémathèque Française‘s reproduction poster (9 euros); the poster alone makes a perfect Paris gift.
6. A pot of Confiture de Noël from Lise Bienaimé’s Chambre aux Confitures
This seasonal spread contains figs, currants, orange peel, hazelnuts, walnuts and spices, and it’s great for a Christmas morning breakfast—or with foie gras. My second choice: a jar of Lise’s flavored sugar, certainly a luxury twist for anyone’s festive season. Note: the Confiture de Noël comes with its own Christmas spoon.
7. Christmas lights by la Case de Cousin Paul
These come in amazing colours! The basic round balls (there are three sizes) are light and pack flat and you’re free to choose any colors you want. I used the helpful tool on the website, which demonstrates how your color choices look. Making a small incision in each ball assembles the garlands; you then slip each ball over the bulb in a string of lights. Electrical fittings are sold separately, so you can buy voltage-compatible light strings. Or you can just string some of the gorgeous spheres together.
8. Pretty cutlery from Sabre
I already bought and wrapped a funky tartan tart slicer (“Madras”). But I could easily go for teaspoons in “Baroque.” These offer a lighthearted take on Louis XIV and are available in gold or silver. All are lightweight and easy to pack. In addition to its shop in the 6th, Sabre has a stand at BHV.
9. Magnetic French poetry or an Eiffel Tower “sardine can” of goodies from La Plume de Louise à l’Ile Saint-Louis
Officially this shop deals in souvenirs (this year, Pariscope named it the top choice of locals). Its owner has long sold her boxes of magnetic letters, which let you recompose French poems or create your own. There are also lots of small treats, such as Post-it notes that feature French politicians.
10. One of Diptyque’s three Noël mini-senteurs (scented Christmas candles)
These come in ruby red, Christmas green or violet blue. All are gilded and all smell seasonal. My favorite is the sapin (Christmas tree).
Walking home, I saw Murval’s black patent poussette (wheelie shopping cart), with a white bow at Geneviève Lethu. This is not on any websites but it’s delightful and costs 59 euros. A poussette may seem too big to pack, but the body slips off and the frame folds.
La Vaissellerie boutiques are all over Paris and fairly inexpensive. Its most recent French coffee bowls come in dusty pink, dove gray and chocolate—each with petits pois (polka dots). They’re pretty, fun and inexpensive (2.50 euros each).
Editor’s note: Looking for the perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift for the Francophile in your life? The GG2P Travel Club card is great of course! Right now we have a holiday offer: buy one, get one free for a friend. One for you and one for another—it’s the most fun way to shop!