Bringing Back Gifts from Paris

by : Phil Chavanne

Honey, we are going to Paris! Ah, the joys of preparing for the occasion...

The pleasure of diving into your favorite travel guides (I suggest visiting website to plan out your everyday itinerary... The sheer excitement of stuffing a large suitcase with the entire appropriate garb...

But hold on! Have you thought of leaving enough room in your luggage to bring a few gifts back home?Bringing back cool gifts. A major important task on your To-Do-When-I'm-There list. Yes, yes, yes. But where will you find nicely original (and attractively inexpensive) stuff?Well, search no more, I did it for you.

First Gift Opportunity: a Designer DepotIn a previous article I wrote about "designer depots": small boutiques where it is possible to find vintage or last-season designer garb at very low prices. I like these shops; they are treasures troves where finding a deeply-discounted Chanel suit or Yves Saint Laurent dress is always within the realm of possibilities.

"Chercheminippes" is one of them. The name of the shop is a play on words: it means "searching for clothes" and is a reminder of the street name "Cherche-Midi" (or "searching for noon" in French) where the shop is located. "Chercheminippes" is not just one shop, but a string of five shops lining the Cherche-Midi Street in the plush 6th district (near the "Sevres-Babylone" metro station, and at walking distance from Saint Germain des Pres). Each shop offers a specific category of items: women's wear, designer clothes, men's fashion, child wear, and home decoration.

Every piece of clothing is second-hand but in excellent condition. The owner, Mrs. Bayonne, only buys well-known brands, including French designer brands. She discounts her merchandise by 50% on average.

"Chercheminippes" also offers linen, pens, relatively inexpensive designer jewelry, and various fashion accessories. Unlike traditional designer depot owners, Mrs. Bayonne's also shops for decorative objects, both contemporary and vintage. There lies more gift potential for you!Swing by Rue du Cherche-Midi, you will find the five shops tucked between No. 102 and No. 124. Second Stop on Gift RoadSituated on the ground floor of a private mansion at 9 Place Furstenberg, one of my very favorite places in Paris, "Nolita" carries an unusual assortment of things in a very feminine 'boudoir' universe. That prices range from 10 euros to 3,000 euros is an indication of the wide diversity of items on offer. Let's just say "Nolita" deals in everything that is interior design.

For the shopper looking for singular gifts, the shop presents a vast array of possibilities: linen, tableware, glassware, quaint decorative objects, and even vintage repainted furniture. "Nolita" also carries toiletries, including several lines of soaps. If you are looking for clothing items, the shop may have something for you too.

The owner, Mrs. Lassalle, sources her merchandise from France, Italy and England. Choice and diversity are keywords here, and I think it is unlikely you will leave the shop without a couple of gifts in your shopping bag. I heard "Nolita" is a shopping spot for many American and Japanese travelers.

Place Furstenberg hides between Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the river Seine. You owe it to yourself to discover this quaint area. The closest subway station is Saint-Germain-des-Pres. The Red Cedar of the Prince Gardener"Le Cedre Rouge du Prince Jardinier" carries both indoor and outdoor objects. Located at 22 Avenue Victoria, in the very central first district ("Chatelet" subway station), the shop is a cross between the Outpost, Home Depot, Hold Everything, and Williams-Sonoma mail-order catalogues.

There you will find unwieldy by beautiful outdoor furniture made by local craftsmen (tables, lounge chairs and chairs in teak, marble, travertine, and volcanic stone), as well as garden decoration items and tooling (how about a nice red gardener apron and hat? Or a large hemp-fiber bag to carry your groceries in rugged style?).

Fortunately for travelers, "The Red Cedar of the Prince Gardener" also offers more portable indoor objects, including Christmas decorations, a large assortment of perfumed candles and candle-holders, oil lamps, curious plaids and pillows, extraordinary Venetian and vintage glassware, numerous tableware and silverware sets, vases of various shapes and forms, and many other wares of sorts. Even a series of not-seen-elsewhere umbrellas.

I don't think there is any like shop in Paris. Very unusual, kind of out-of-place, but so interesting it is absolutely worth a visit. And if you fall for a lounge chair or a large fireplace screen, they will ship it to your home. Ask for Patrice, he's a most helpful fellow.

Well, these are but a few useful boutiques to visit should you plan on bringing something out of the ordinary from Paris for a friend or a relative. I will continue to shop for more of these places, and let you know whenever I find some I like.

MeanwhileFind Article, prepare well for your next trip to Paris!