The Art of Gifting, Paris Christmas And Holiday Shopping



Few cultures understand The Art of Gifting as the French do. And here in Paris you will find plenty of gift choices to keep eeryone on your holiday list happy. A jewelry and watch lover ? Here you will find the best. Perhaps books, photos and artwork are what you need to find? You could spend day after day browsing through the book shelves here, including the ones at the museum gift shops such as the Librairie Boutique du Musée National Picasso-Paris.

But since it’s hard enough to shop for ourselves, let alone others, when it comes time to tick off the names on your Christmas and holiday shopping list it’s nice to think that you are offering something that will actually be appreciated.

So this Paris holiday shopping list is curated for people who appreciate fineness, elegance and unique items. 

 I've included a few select boutiques that are specialized in candles, perfumes and beauty products, all French specialties. These are pleasing for both men and women, girls and boys. Well, maybe not so much for boys. For them you'll find a store listed here, FNAC, which is stocked full of digital games and gadgets, computers, cameras and the latest smart phones. 



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4éme Arrondissement


 

Designed to look and feel like an apartment in the ultra-fashionable Paris Marais district, the brand-new Chanel Beauté boutique has opened this season just in time for Christmas shopping. The district itself has quickly become Paris' newest luxury shopping area so it's no wonder that the timeless and timelessly chic brand, Chanel, would choose to install their first-in-Paris beauty boutique here. It's devoted to both their iconic perfumes and their makeup lines and even offers a separate section devoted just to men's products. The theme for this season is RougeNoir and you can find whole gift sets designed around this top-selling nail enamel color of Chanel's.


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6éme Arrondissement
San Francisco Book Company
Photo courtesy of San Francisco Book Co.

 

There are other book shops catering to anglophones in Paris that are more famous, to be sure. But this one, tucked up behind Odéon on the well-named rue Monsieur le Prince, is a great place to seek out when you're looking for something to enrich your mind. There are so many storied titles here that pertain just to Paris, and while visiting it's a great occasion to read through some of them. Or, perhaps non-fiction is more to your liking. In that case these shelves are stocked floor-to-ceiling with a good selection of those in myriad subject matters, too. Once you've made your selection, be sure to mosey on over to one of the wonderful cafés nearby, order yourself something nice to sip and spend some quality "me" time with your newly purchsed book.


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6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche
Patrick Roger
Photo courtesy of Patrick Roger Chocolates

 

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.


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6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche
Thés George Cannon
Photo courtesy of Thés George Cannon


 

This tea brand, one of the oldest in France, is still a family run business, headed up by master of tea Olivier Scala and his son Augustin. At their Left Bank shop they have a "théotheque" a sort of olfactory library of teas and if you ask, nicely, they will walk you through an olfactory tea tasting of exotic and rare gems that is a unique experience. The tea became famous for its use of fruit blends and infusions. Today they have a range of over 300 flavored teas, with Rouge Baiser (red kiss) being one of the emblematic house teas. Olivier Scala went on to create original blends such as vanilla and mandarin, strawberry and caramel. For serious tea drinkers, they also offer to do a custom blend. For this service, you must contact them directly and work with one of their team to personalize your blend for you.


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4éme Arrondissement


 

This young perfumer of Armenian descent first made a name for his nose with his runaway hit for Jean-Paul Gaultier, "Le Male." His perfume blends are also those of Nina Ricci, Elie Saab and Burberry. He was just 26 years old when he won the Prix François Coty in 2001. His new boutique in the Marais features some of his holiday releases this season. In addition to the scented leather collection they are also offering a new candle in time for Christmas called, "Mon Beau Sapin," which translates as My Beautiful Christmas Tree. His scented leather collection is worth discovering. These lamb or crocodile-skin card cases and wallets have the scent integrated into the material. When you carry one of these accessories, you need wear no additional perfume, so fragrant are they. Colors are black, pink and tan making for excellent gifts for that man or woman in your life.


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7éme Arrondissement

 

For nearly a cetury this was the only luxury department store located on the Left Bank. When it opened in 1852 it was hailed for its architecture. It later inspired even Emile Zola to write, in 1883, "It was like the concourse of a railway station, surrounded by the balustrades of the two upper storeys, cut by suspended stairways and crisscrossed with bridges. And all this cast iron beneath the white light of the glass roof composed an airy architecture of complicated lacework." He was, of course, describing Gustav Eiffel's architectural signature. Since the early 1990's, and especially since it was bought by the LVMH Group, it has stepped up its game considerably. It now houses a museum-like food emporium, known the world-over as La Grande Epecirie, as well as newly opened luxury home furnishings departments and an extensive wine cellar. Le Bon Marché is a thoroughly luxury shopping experience.


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Opened just this season, in time for holiday shopping, at this annex boutique to the Picasso Museum you will find items specially designed around the theme of Picasso's works, as well as a plethora of Picasso-themes books. For example, French designer Sarah Lavoine was commissioned to create a line of tableware inspired by Picasso. Hence the thick ceramic ware of basic solid colors like burnt orange and Riviera yellow can be yours to grace your holiday table setting in time for Christmas. Toward the back of the boutique, whose physical presence is across the street from the actual museum, there is a space wholly devoted to children. In addition to the larger ticket items there are a fair number of knick-knack souvenirs in the form of pencils and writing tablets and the such.


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6éme Arrondissement

 

This precious shop's tag line is Candles since 1643. Its claim is that it was the candle maker to kings, having once furnished the royal court of the Sun King, King Louis XIV with candles for Versailles. That story is intriguing and can be backed up by archival research with the art of their candle making certainly dating back to that era. These candles are of the highest quality and the scents are sublime as well as unusual. It is the kind of gift â€" to use their term, The Art of Gifting - for yourself or someone else, that says class, luxury and elegant good taste.


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6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche


 

We are beauty from head-to-toe, is what the co-founder/resurrector of this beloved French brand will tell you when she talks about her beauty products. Victoire de Taillhac-Touhami and her husband, who she swears is the "nose" of the family, researched this famous old brand that was first created by Jean-Vincent Bully in 1803. This is the character Balzac based his César Birotteau on in his celebrated novel about perfume. Entering into this shop full of pommades, beauty oils, perfumes and elixirs is like stepping into an Honoré de Balzac novel and a Paris of days-gone-by. The founders are convinced that this is a large part of the reason behind the shop and the brand's instant success. Parisians come in and are wont to remark how they remember their grandmother's vanity table elegantly displaying one of the cult products, such as the "Vinaigre de Bully," when they were a child.


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6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche
L'Occitane en Provence
Photo courtesy of L'Occitane en Provence

 

Olivier Baussan, the original founder of L'Occitane and native of France's Provence, invited his friend, the famous French pastry chef, Pierre Hermé, to design a holiday collection this year with him. The result, a unity of taste and scent, a combination of fragrances, textures and colors that both men drew from their respective terroirs of origin, L'Isle de la Beauté and Provence. Pierre Hermé is inspired by "ingredients that awaken desires, raw materials that conjure up pleasures." Olivier Baussan delighted in packaging the new products in a confection reminiscent of a cake as much as it is of a hat box. Whichever way you slice it, it's a keeper that undoubtedly will last much longer than the thoroughly delightful, feminine and floral products that come inside. Some highlights include the Grapefruit-Rhubarb combinations, the Honey-Mandarin hand balm and the Jasmine-Immortelle-Neroli shimmering body powder.


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Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige

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