Every day in Paris is romantic even when the metro is crowded or a brief rain shower drives you into a small café, or into the entrance of an art gallery or shop. Everything and everyone seems romantic, from the man at the vegetable stand to the butcher who prepares your weekly entrecôte. The tradition of romantic love began in France, in the Middle Ages when romantic poetry was born and inspired the idea of giving gifts to express one’s devotion. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s our list of the 10 best gifts from Paris.
Note: Girls’ Guide to Paris readers receive special consideration where noted.
1. Ultimate Spa Experience: Plaza Athénée
At the Dior Institute, treat yourself to the ultimate in beauty to get ready for this special day. The glorious French interiors of the hotel and the newly decorated Royal Suite are in themselves gift boxes. Both men and women can enjoy the spa services and packages. To book an appointment, send an e-mail to [email protected]
2. Ultimate Personal Shopping: Le Bon Marché
Le Bon Marché can arrange a day of shopping with one of the department store’s stylistes privées. After you are done, arrangements will be made for a car to sweep you away to a romantic dinner or luncheon and deliver your goodies to your hotel. Gift cards are also available to order online or in the store. For more information, call 01 44 39 50 65 or send an e-mail to [email protected]
3. Ultimate Desserts: The King of Hearts Is Making the Tarts for Valentine’s Day at the Hôtel de Crillon
Don’t worry if there is too much crème and butter in these desserts; we can assure you that there is. The lush silken furnishings you’ll sink into are the icing on the cake after a busy day. Book a delightful afternoon tea or perhaps an elegant brunch. Why not arrange a surprise meeting with your significant other for Valentine’s Day? We can promise the Marie Antoinette tea is fit for a queen. For more information or bookings, visit the Hôtel de Crillon website.
4. Ultimate Perfume: Create Your Own Custom Fragrance at Guerlain
Collaborate with one of the most venerable names in beauty, Guerlain. This perfume is offered in a 500-milliliter Baccarat bottle with a quatrefoil design. You will also receive three 30-milliliter bottles and twenty 60-milliliter bottles, all with the four-lobe design, containing a total of two liters of eau de parfum, which is the equivalent of five years of use. This is also a great gift idea for those you love. The price is available upon request. You should allow time for your fragrance to be created, as Rome wasn’t built in a day. Contact Isabelle Rousseau at [email protected]
5. Ultimate Tea: Nina’s Paris Tea Shop at the Place Vendôme
Nina’s is a little hidden gem in Paris: a tea shop located off the Place Vendôme, where you can enjoy custom teas created from Japanese tea leaves and French floral fragrances. This is a family-run business, so the emphasis on luxury quality and personal service is well known. My favorite tea is made from the apples grown at the gardens of Versailles, named after Marie Antoinette, of course. Stop in and enjoy some tea, or for group reservations, contact [email protected] (29, rue Danielle Casanova, in the 1st Arrondissement, 01 55 04 80 55).
6. Ultimate Day for Champagne Lovers: Personalized Champagne Trip
Have you ever wanted your own vintage bottles of champagne waiting for your next birthday or anniversary? This is a single-day voyage to the Champagne region that includes a special four-hour visit to Epernay with a certified champagne expert. Champagne houses on these trips might include Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, Pommery and Lanson. For more information, visit localfoodandwine.yolasite.com.
GGTP readers receive 10 percent off during the month of February. Contact [email protected] to book a guided trip or arrange a special hotel.
7. Ultimate Jewelry: Goth Romance in le Marais at Gavilane
There are a lot of designers in Paris, but Maurice, aka Gavilane, is in his shop in person to greet you when you stop in. Haute couture designers like Karl Lagerfeld are fans and have featured Gavilane accessories on their runways. His clients range from the wives of foreign dignitaries to the glitterati of Parisian boho society. His specialty is dark and romantic goth designs that convey Edwardian romance. You can view highlights of the collections at the Gavilane website. There are two locations in the Marais: 39, rue Vieille du Temple (01 48 87 32 93), and 14, rue Malher (01 48 87 73 13).
8. Ultimate Flowers from a Paris Haute Couture Florist
Give the gift of an ultimate floral delivery from one of the best florists in Paris: Monsieur Varda, known for his work at the haute couture shows in Paris and at the Ritz. Voted the best florist in Paris, M. Varda has a shop on the rue Montorgueil near les Halles. Once you enter, like Alice in Wonderland, you’ll never think about flowers in the same way again. For boho budgets, the larger Paris markets have the best flowers, almost at wholesale prices, and the best ones are usually in the suburbs.
9. Ultimate Haute Couture: Hayari Atelier
When you make an appointment to be measured by haute couture designer Nabil Hayari, you’ll be treated to the views of the Elysée park near the president’s palace. Monsieur Hayari is a master of the evening gown, and his dresses make a girl feel like a princess. He recently showed a collection for Princess Caroline of Monaco. The Hayari showroom is located at 3, avenue Matignon, in the 8th Arrondissement (01 45 63 45 83).
If you book an appointment for a consultation with Nabil, you’ll receive a bottle of perfume courtesy of the designer. Send an e-mail to [email protected] GGTP readers can also purchase perfume online at a 15 percent discount via the Hayari website, using the code GGTP in their comments.
10. Ultimate Valentine’s Day Chocolate: La Maison du Chocolat
Our love of the addictive stuff started several centuries ago and hasn’t yet stopped. There are many purveyors of chocolate in Paris, but La Maison du Chocolat is one of my favorites—perhaps it’s the elegant boxes reminiscent of a couture house (you know, the ones with the little brown ribbons). But the chocolate speaks for itself, and with locations from Tokyo to Cannes, you can’t go wrong with this one for your Valentine’s Day gift. Check the website (see link below) for locations throughout Paris. If you are in the United States, you can still enjoy this chocolate, as La Maison du Chocolat delivers to US addresses, with next-day delivery available (see link below).
Dior Institute at the Plaza Athénée
Le Bon Marché
Hôtel de Crillon
Personalized Champagne Trip
La Maison du Chocolat
La Maison du Chocolat US delivery
Pikke Allen, aka ARTIFICE, travels the time warp between Hollywood and Paris, where she is a writer/blogger/Creative Consultant for both US and French luxury lifestyle brands. Her bobo credentials were earned designing costumes for theatre, film and television. Her passion for all things fashion brings her to museums, designer ateliers, runway shows and the Paris shopping beat, where she confesses all about boho bargains or luxury shopping secrets. You can read more of Pikke’s fashion tips, trends and shopping confessions at Styliste Privée.
Editor’s note: Do you have a loved one who is going to Paris this year? Why not recommend the GG2P Travel Club to make the trip smoother and to fill it with special VIP treatment and special deals?