The accurate name of this outdoor market is Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux Cité. That translates to the Cité Flower and Bird Market, which has been in this same spot since 1808. But most people refer to it just as the Flower Market, or the Marché aux Fleurs. At any rate, the birds are only there on Sundays, when they are displayed in their fine gilt cages, including some of the rarest of species. The Paris flower market offers an in-the-countryside bucolic walk through stalls overflowing with flowers of every color, variety, scent and species. It's open every day throughout the year (closed major holidays, of course, as this is France) from 8 am to 7pm. The green metallic pavillions that harbor thousands upon thousands of potted plants and cut flowers have been the subject of just as many sketches, paintings and other artistic tributes throughout the ages.
Shopping when you're traveling, especially to fabulous Paris, is often more about finding the right gifts to give friends and family when you get back home. This brand covers all bases and will please anyone on your list - including yourself. The essential oils used in the products here, be that bath gel, candles or hand soap, are concentrated and of the highest quality. There are no chemicals nor anything fake to be found here - these ingredients are all natural and sourced from the best. The packaging is charming, too, reminiscent of an old chemist's shop. So whether that's a geranium candle you bring back home for your bedside table or a jar of scented hand wash that leaves its scent trace lasting for hours, here is where you can tick off just about every little extra on your list.
Toys aren't just for kids. But indeed your children will relish a romp through this shop where bake stations are lovingly carved out of wood and come complete with cupcake pink painted ovens and baby blue ice boxes all waist-high...for 5 year-old. If nostalgia is one of your bittersweet indulgences, this shop will have you wallowing in a healthy dollop of it. Trains and train tracks made out of wood and also of metal. Kites that you can fly and let crash in the sand without fear of them breaking to pieces. Also worth noting is that this is a business that is recognised by the French Ministry of Culture for its heritage and quality. You'll see the little sticker on the door when you enter. Established in 1860 this little shop has been delighting children and their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles for generations.
Part chocolate shop, part sculpture gallery, this Patrick Roger chocolate shop on the picture-perfect Place St. Sulpice is where you can buy a box of top quality, couture chocolates. And if you'd like to have a look at the chocolate maker's sculpture collection, a monumental work (Hippos 2012) is on display upstairs here and spans the whole second floor. Truly one of those "only in Paris" experiences. His other shops, the one on Place Madeleine is also worth visiting. It won the honor of the Best Boutique in Paris last year out of over 6000 boutiques considered for the competition. There, too, you will find the sculptures in the windows, all made of chocolate, as well as a sculpture gallery on the second floor above the chocolate shop.
When you feel like you want to color-coordinate your luggage with your outfit, this is the brand you can do that with. Luggage comes in colorful and coordinated capsule collections. Colorful and playful, this fashion-forward luggage line was created by a duo here in Paris. Their motto for luggage: it should match your mood and your outfit, whatever the season. Lipault applies a whole new philosophy to luggage - that it needn't be one size fits all nor one drab color. Hence each season they launch new color and print lines, just like a fashion house. And just because the luggage is playfully mix-and-match it doesn't mean that it's sturdy. This well-made luggage will keep you good company on your round-the-world cruise or Far East expedition. The line of luggage comes in two-wheels carry-on all the way up to four-wheels that can hold all your Paris shopping treasures.
Luxury, style and and that insouciant French touch - all hidden away in what appears from the outside to be a closet-sized store. But once you enter this corner boutique, it proves to be a roomy den of great style. Eclectic is another useful word here as you'll find everything from bags and light accessories to home decor items that are sure to jazz up your dwelling (or that of a loved one's). An added features is that the location, on Place St. Sulpice, plants this mecca of art de vivre squarely in the midst of some of the Left Bank's most picturesque sightseeing. And what could be better than a bit of shopping followed by some penitence in one of France's oldest churches. Or if shopping guilt isn't your thing, enjoy gazing at the fountain in the square while imagining all the ways you'll display your new treasures.
Olivier Baussan, the original founder of L'Occitane and native of France's Provence, is still the acting creative director of one of the world's first all-organic body and beauty products brand. To visit the factory in Manosque, in Provence's Luberon region, is a pilgrimage every pampered person should make. Especially during lavender season when the fields of purple-blue flowers stretch like fragrant lakes across the landscape. This season the iconic brand is launching their Terre de Lumiere signature fragrance. All of their perfumes are natural-based and laden with essential oils and distilled essences. Of course true fans of the beauty brand will know the stand-bys such as the almond shower oil and creme Immortelle - and know them well. Whatever your preferred potion, L'Occitane will keep you looking, smelling and feeling like a sun-kissed summer in Provence. And knowing that your purchases are environmentally respectful will give you that halo-like glow.
Paris' best wine shop can be found tucked discreetly inside a private mansion on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt in the posh Champs-Elysees district of the city. Hotel Dillon is the private mansion of Prince Robert of Luxembourg who is also proud owner of the legendary Bordeaux estate, Chateau Haut-Brion. It is in this newly opened to the public mansion that there is now housed one of the city's finest wine boutiques. It earns its title as one of the finest not only because you can find the 95 - 100 point bottles of wines here, but also because the curators of the cellar, namely sommelier Antoine P�trus working with Prince Robert, have unabashedly chosen to include their personal favorite wines be they from small and little-known producers from France's diverse regions or superstar wine estates. Surprisingly, wandering into this luxurious setting from off the street you needn't in the least feel intimidated. It is the boutique staff's great pleasure to steer you towards a bottle of good wine that will suit any budget (yes, truly!) and any occasion.
For women (and men!) who seek a luxury hair care experience, renowned colorist/stylist Christophe Robin offers his expertise at his bespoke salon in the ultra-trendy Montorgueil district. His motto is "free your hair," and the likes of Catherine Deneuve, Tilda Swinton, Kylie Minogue and Kristin Scott Thomas have all decided to do so, with him. Christophe Robin = pampering. Dedicated to the use of natural products, his complete and creative product line is silicone free, paraben free and use no colorants either. For example, his Regenerating Hair Finish Lotion with Hibiscus Vinegar, when applied to the scalp, helps dissolve sebum and chemical residues, which allows the scalp to breathe, making hair light and airy. Says superstar haircare expert and colorist, Christophe Robin, "In a personal drive towards better health and well-being, I created this line of hair and body care." The full range is available in his boutique and shop online, too!
For bags that are versatile, fun, stylish and oozing with that French Touch, look no farther than Longchamp. Here you'll find a wide range of well made leather bags that last throughout the seasons, as well as an ever-changing collection of the classic Le Pilage bags with leather trim that serve equally as well as totes and as handbags. In Paris, your Longchamp bag wears practically like a Parisian uniform, or badge of style. This family-owned business had its first boutique at 390 rue St. Honore, just a hop skip away from where this Paris flagship now stands. Interestingly, the company was founded as a tobacco store and then branched into luggage in 1955. The rest, as they say, is history. Longchamp's frequent collaborations with designers to produce limited editions of Le Pilage bags keeps its collections ever-fresh and inspiring. And its all-leather high-end handbags are definite keepers, too.