The Christmas spirit comes early to Paris and is marked by the arrival of vin chaud and roasted chestnuts in the streets and corner cafÃ©s. Strands of lights decorating the city’s avenues add to the festive feeling and inspire one to embrace the holiday season. Christmas is a great excuse to do some shopping in Paris. The avid Francophile will be happy to find a handful of Paris boutiques that specialize in products of French origin that make great souvenirs and gifts for family and friends.
Bringing home a little lumiÃ¨re from the City of Light is a sure way to warm up your winter months. The Provence-based family business Durance uses the region’s richness in lavender and other local, natural ingredients to create candles and incense that will fill your home with the aroma of the south of France. Visit one of its Paris boutiques to find great gift ideas for everyone in the family.
Diptyque has been making its famous line of candles in the Ãle-de-France region since 1961. Its Paris boutique on the chic boulevard Saint-Germain submerges visitors in a sensory experience. Scents range from earthy smells such as cedar and firewood to more floral affairs including rose and mimosa. The candles are known for their extended burning time and are the quintessential gifts that keep on giving.
For the shopper with a sweet tooth, Paris’s pÃ¢tisseries are a must. SÃ©bastien Gaudard has a bakery on the shopper-friendly rue des Martyrs, where he makes traditional cakes and tarts with a finesse reserved exclusively for the French. The charming boutique offers a selection of macarons, meringues and mille-feuillesâall of which can be packaged up as a perfect present or afternoon snack. Specialty tea is also a gift option, one that will travel well and warm hearts, and hands, when you get home.
Also on the rue des Martyrs you will find la Chambre aux Confitures, which offers seasonal homemade jellies and jams. Its winter line focuses on citrus fruits such as clementines, lemons and oranges. The owner, Lise BienaimÃ©, also makes jams that pair well with cheeses, such as figue, olive, et noix and pomme rÃ´tie au calvados. Onion- and shallot-based jams are also suggested for pairings with meats and savory meals.
Have your Paris history and drink it, too, at les Caves AugÃ©, where wine has been sold to thirsty Parisians since 1850. Legend has it that Proust would stop by this enchanting wine store to pick up a bottle or two back in the day. With a wide selection of vins naturels and bottles that are hard to find outside the hexagon, this is a great spot to pick up a unique gift. Explore AugÃ©âs world of natural, low-sulfite wines, but be sure to give these bottles time to recover after your flight; natural wines are sturdy and delicious, but also sensitive to travel and temperature changes.