What city is so entwined with dance as Paris? From Degas’ painting to the Moulin Rouge. Combine that with every stylish girls staple shoe – the ballet flat and you have a perfect Parisian souvenir.
Repetto is Paris’ premiere dance shop but also provide shoes that we can all wear. Their shoes are an institution. In 1956 Repetto created the “Cendrillon” for Bridget Bardot and the ballet flat sensation began. Over the years they have teamed with the likes of Issey Miyake and Yoji Yammamoto and Comme de Garcons to design shoes.
Ballet flats come in a variety of colours and finishes including patent leather and goatskin. All the shoes are handmade and there is only a limited number of each style, so owning a pair is almost like being part of an exclusive shoe club.
51, rue du Four Paris
75006 01 45 44 98 65
Monday to Saturday 10h - 19h
Metro: Saint Sulpice
While China and England may be the first countries that come to mind when you think of tea, Paris has a long tradition of Tea Salons.
Marriage Freres is the oldest tea importer in Paris. Marriage Feres have pioneered what they call the ‘French art of Tea’. This ‘art’ is defined by diversity and blending. This genesis of this art was in 1860 when Henri Marriage came out with his Chocolate/Tea blend. In their famous black canisters you can buy all the traditional teas as well as blend with names like ‘Thes des Amants’ (Tea for Lovers) which is black tea blended with spices including cinnamon, vanilla and ginger and ‘The des Impressionnistes’ which is a blend of green tea and flowery vanilla.
While there are stores dotted around Paris the historic store at 30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg is my favourite. The flagship store has been operating for over a century In a lovely street in the Marais. This tea salon offers an enormous range of teas and accessories. You can also enjoy lunch or afternoon tea in their colonial styled tea rooms.
Dammann Freres is not as well known as the Marriage brothers, but has been selling tea since 1925. However their shopfront fabulously positioned on the Place des Vosages is relatively new. Positioned in the middle of the store is a large square table with over 100 small compartments – simply open the compartment door to smell the rich aromas of the teas.
As well as the elegantly caddies of loose leaf teas, Dammann Freres sell exquisite tea chests which include a variety sample of teas. A chest of four teas and beautiful strainer is 34 Euros and makes a wonderful gift.
30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, Paris 4e
Tel. : +33(0)1 42 72 28 11
Metro: Hotel De Ville
Open 7 days 10.30 to 7.00
15 place des Vosges
Metro: St Paul or Bastille
Open 7 days 11AM to 7PM
Tel. 01 44 54 04 88
Anything from Merci
Merci has taken the ‘concept store’ to a whole new level. It is a mini department store over three levels and includes a florist, literary café and a restaurant in the basement. Wandering into the courtyard you find a vintage fiat, when we where there it was spouting a grass roof but I have seen pictures of it dresses in a number of different ways. From this moment you know you are in for a slightly different shopping experience.
Merci carries a mix of new and second-hand stock. New and over-run stock from designers such as Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and Marni on one floor, homewares upstairs, kitchenware next to the restaurant, furniture in one wing and napery tucked into a corner. There is also stationery and a wonderful Annick Goutal perfume counter.
This is a place to while away an hour to two and probably find more than one gift or souvenir. Ideas include the wonderful 100% linen napkins, tea towels and tablecloths which start at 4 Euros a piece; secondhand books with the Merci stamp inside the front cover from 5 Euros. There are also great ‘Merci’ T-shirts for kids and grown ups.
100% of profits from Merci go to a charities for women and children in Madagascar, hence the name. So you have have the ulimate Parisian shopping experience and leave with a clear conscience.
111 Boulevarde Beaumarchais
Tel: 01 42 77 00 33
Monday – Saturday 10am – 7pm
Metro: Saint Sebastien-Froissart
A one of kind market find
Paris is a city teaming with markets; farmers markets, flea markets, pet markets, flower markets and artists markets.
While customs makes it difficult to bring back souvenirs from farmers, pet or flower markets the flea markets and artist markets are wonderful places to find one of kind souvenirs.
Not only are you likely to find something interesting and individual you will also have a truly Parisian experience.
The delightfully named Marche de la Creation Bastille is on every Saturday from 10am to 7pm. It is the largest weekly art market in Paris and showcases painters, photographers, ceramicists and jewellers. And it all takes place under the shadow of the Bastille Monument.
Take home an original Parisian painting or numbered photograph of your favourite monument. I have fabulous pair of handmade earrings and a friend left with a fairytale inspired bracelet and a painting of a Marais street scene.
The most larges and most famous flea market in Paris is the MarchePorte de Clignancourt, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas). This large market is great but it is not the only or the best flea market experience in Paris.
Take the opportunity to leave the tourists behind and trawl through a market that the local flock to. For my money the Port de Vanves market is the perfect combination of local experience and souvenir shopping heaven.
Wander down the street under the shade of trees browsing the stalls of crystal, lace, toys and the iconic blue and white house numbers so common in France. Our finds included a crystal butter dish and a set of flying birds to hang on the wall. As a lover of lead crystal it was torture as I had to pass on great pieces at great prices that were too heavy to pack in my suitcase.
I’d suggest getting there mid morning as while the market is officially open though the afternoon some of the vendors will start to pack up just after lunch.
MARCHE DE LA BASTILLE
Boulevard Richard Lenoir
Paris is probably more closely associated with perfume than any other city in the world. Famous perfumes include Chanel No. 5, YSL’s Rive Gauche. On my last trip to Paris one the souvenirs’ I most coveted was a perfume that would remind me of the wonderful city whenever I wore it.
One of Frances’ oldest fragrance houses is Guerlain. Their first store was opened in 1828 on the Rue De Rivoli by Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain. Pierre founded a dynasty that has seen 5 generations of perfumers. The glittering La Maison Geurlain on the Champs Elysees features the Perfume Organ, the grand circular display stand in the middle of the Fragrance room, on which the famous Guerlain fragrances, classic and modern, are arranged in tiers.After browsing the Perfumes not to be misse is th the Ruban d’Or, which is a corridor of over 350,000 gold mosaic tiles.
While Guerlain is one of the oldest fragrance houses Etat Libre d’Orange is one of the newest and turns tradition on it’s head. Etat libre d’orange (The Free State of Orange) ‘is a land of Olfactory liberatily, free from every taboo, where insubordination and olfactory eroticism reign supreme’. These are scents for those that want individuality.
This wonderful shop in the Marais features 15 perfumes with names such as ‘Real Blonde’, ‘Praise of a Traitor’ and ‘Fat Electrician’.
We spent a wonderful hour in the store not only trying the wonderful scents but hearing the stories the accompany each of the perfumes. At the end of the hour I left with my perfect Paris perfume ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong Baby (I don’t Swallow)’. Every time I wear it I’m reminded of everything that Paris is; the tradition, the history, the fashion and the innovation.
LA MAISON GUERLAIN – BOUTIQUE
68 Avenue Des Champs Elysees
Tel: 01 45 62 52 57
Metro: Franklin Roosevelt
ETAT LIBRE D'ORANGE
Espace De Libertinage Olfactif
69 Rue Des Archives
T: 01 42 78 30 09
Metro: Filles du Calvaire