It’s the most wonderful time of the year… goes the song, and in Paris that’s certainly true. Christmas is when the city of light pulls out all the stops, the streets glitter and the shops are chock-a-block with gifts and goodies to lure you in!
Many shops go all out festive – even opening on Sundays in December and lots of them provide a gift-wrapping service which saves you time and always looks fabulous.
There are more than a dozen Christmas markets of varying sizes in the capital, and you’re bound to find something for everyone here, from Christmas decorations, trinkets, presents and festive food stuffs galore. There’s a mega-market at La Defense aimed at city workers, with 350 stalls laden with arts and crafts, decorations and gourmet food. If you like your markets small and quirky then try the one at Montmartre.
Something different and utterly gorgeous
Two words. Museum boutiques. Paris is awash with museums and art galleries and most of them have shops. This is where you’ll find presents that are really different and very Parisian. Take the Comedie Francaise shop (2 Rue de Richelieu), one of my very favourites in Paris. They have delicious tote bags and the most chic note pads and other gifts including beautiful silver rings and bracelets with author quotes, that I guarantee you will want to keep for yourself. Surprisingly inexpensive, fabulous for stocking fillers and unique presents that your loved ones will be over the moon to receive (if you can bear to let them go).
Other great museum boutiques include the Museum of Montmartre (lovely cards), Picasso Museum shop (which is opposite the museum, 4 rue de Thorigny) has Picasso related gifts and also jewellery, homeware and ceramics. The Pompidou Museum has a large shop with lots of cool, unique gifts from cushion covers, scarves, ceramics, homeware and kids gifts.
Divine and delicious department stores
Galeries Lafayette: Founded in 1895, it’s one of the oldest and most fashionable shopping centres in French history. Famous for its Christmas displays and show stopping centre piece of a Christmas tree always decorated in a different theme each year. From fashion (and you can book a personal shopper to help you pick the perfect outfit) to homeware and everything in between. You’ll also get fabulous views over twinkling Paris from the top floor terrace. For 2019 it has been transformed into a stunning ice rink. Who can resist the chance to skate amongst the roof tops of Paris?
Le Bon Marché: If you love Christmas then don’t miss a trip to this fabulous store which show cases the best of the best. Not just clothes and accessories but the world famous La Grande Epicerie food department. Plus there’s an extensive wine cellar and home furnishings departments. Le Bon Marché is the oldest department store in Paris and a thoroughly luxury shopping experience. Think the French love child of Harrods and Fortnum and Masons. It’s not cheap (in fact I saw a bottle of water in there for 50 Euros but it was encrusted with diamante buttons and called Bling!) but it is utterly gorgeous, elegant and charming.
Printemps: founded in 1865, the flagship store in Paris has everything from fashion to furniture. Plush, luxurious and elegant.
Full on glamour and Bobo treats
This is Paris. Pretty much everywhere you go fits the bill! From the rue du Fauborg-st-Honoré, one of the oldest shopping streets in the city to the Champs-Elysées. And don’t forget the tiny side streets. They’re crammed with quirky and oh so pretty boutiques. And there are the gorgeous Belle Epoque covered shopping galleries.
Try Lubin for lovely perfumes. You can tell the person you give the gift to that it came from the shop were Josephine Bonaparte shopped for her seductive scents. At Buly 1803 you’ll find fabulous soaps, candles, luxury hair brushes, creams and even scented matches. Gifts come with real wow factor wrapping. Or how about a gorgeous umbrella? You’ll find them in so many shops and department stores. And, Paris has a reputation for beautiful parapluies (did you know that the folding umbrella was invented in France?).
For a spot of bohemian chic head to the Pigalle area. Not the rather seedy bit but So-Pi as the locals call it, south Pigalle. It’s an upcoming area for shopping with a village-vibe and bobo (bohemian bourgeois) spirit. There are loads of vintage boutiques to suit the most discerning shopper.
The popular rue des Martyrs links the 9th arrondissement and Montmartre and is packed with vintage and traditional shops and cafés. This half mile long street has old-fashioned charm and a long history. It’s here that Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, was decapitated under the rule of the Roman Empire. Legend says he picked up his head to travel the length of this famous street. He died a few kilometres north of where the Basilica of Saint-Denis was later founded and creating the name Montmartre.