Fall is in the air and tourists to Paris can’t help but think about what to bring back as gifts for the holidays. Paris has no shortage on shopping; but where could you find something a bit more unique than an Eiffel Tower key chain or Mona Lisa t-shirt?
You’ll find a great variety of locally produced and manufactured items at the daily markets. Here are some of the better options:
- Bastille market on Sunday: You’ll find not only food but hand crafts from around France, North Africa, and other regions. Just go to metro: Bastille, you can’t miss it from about 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. for the best choices
- Visit one of the Marchés des Producteurs de Pays . These markets are filled with vendors from around the country. You can purchase wine and spirits directly from the producers, honey, wax, and wool items. Personally, I love the socks. They are great gifts for your friends with diabetes. You can also taste fresh made Aligot, a mixture of potatoes and regional stringy cheese, which is hard to find. Here are some upcoming events:
- November 22-23, Boulevard de Reuilly, 12th arrondissement (metro Daumesnil).
- December 5-7, St. Paul village court. This is a bit harder to find. Take the St. Paul metro and go behind the St. Paul church.
- Honey and Confiture: Nothing brings back local taste than regional honey and preserves. David Lebovitz has a great article about Honey in Paris. For confiture, check out your local markets, the Marchés des Producteurs de Pays, and also stop by a nice fromagerie to see if they offer a confiture de la maison. I buy my coffee and confiture from Pascal Guiraud, in the 12th Arrondissement on Blvd de Reuilly.
- Macarons: It’s hard to go wrong with a great box of macarons from Pierre Hermé or Ladurée.
- Flea Markets: Everyone has heard about the famous Paris Marché aux Puce. It’s enormous and sits in the north border of the city. Frankly, it’s overpriced and you could spend all day looking and not buy anything.
However, there are several smaller flea markets that are more promising. I personally prefer the one at Porte de Vanves. It is every Saturday and Sunday from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Dress warmly for the winter shopping, some areas are always in the shade and it can get chilly. Look for inexpensive art (etchings and prints), glassware, jewelry, and household items.
You’ll find your best bargains at a Vide Grenier (community garage sale). Keep an eye out for fliers around the city for the local sale. They are not always available.
This is just a short list of places to get gifts for friends and coworkers before heading home. Look for the locally produced and regional cuisines wherever you travel. They’ll be more memorable than the standard souvenirs.
- Pascal Guiraud – Torréfacteur
- 21, boulevard de Reuilly (12°)
- 01 43 43 93 27
- Metro: Daumesnil, Dugommier
- Coffee, Tea, Confiture, and Fine Groceries