Being the capital of fashion, Paris has plenty to offer all year round when it comes to retail therapy – but now that thoughts are turning to stocking fillers and pretty packages to pad out the tree, there’s even more reason to visit the French capital.
Indeed, for fashion and lifestyle, Paris’ department stores are hard to beat. Galeries Lafayette , Le Printemps , Le BHV , Citadium and Le Bon Marché … it’s full-on sensory overload in these grand institutions, decorated to festive perfection and groaning with gifts for everyone from grandparents to newborns. These one-stop-shop collections will give you plenty of inspiration if you’re struggling – and satifaction if you’re coming with a list. Don’t miss the spectacular tree in the entrance hall of Galeries Lafayette, which has recently opened its ‘Espace Luxe’ on the first floor (think luxury prêt-à-porter and accessories, featuring nine avant-garde designers) and a vast new shoe department in the basement with some 150 brands on offer.
When it comes to family entertainment, what could be better than finding the latest playground fad or the perfect board game to bring everyone together this Christmas? Keep the kids happy with a visit to Village Joué Club and get lost in the aisles of toys, cars and trains, Lego and crafts – and try La Grande Récré, Nature & Découvertes, Au Pullman or the Disney Store. Children’s furniture and party sets can be found at BonTon, which has boutiques on both the left and right banks. But perhaps the most revered of Parisian toy shops is Au Nain Bleu, trading since 1836 on the famous Boulevard St-Germain. Gawp at the handmade toy wooden boats, oversized teddy bears, retro cars and aeroplanes, beautiful pop-up books and dolls’ houses.
Everyone knows food and drink make great gifts too – and you’re spoilt for choice of top-quality purveyors in Paris with pâtisseries, delicatessens and chocolate boutiques tucked around every corner. Extraordinary volumes of well-fed turkeys, luxurious foie gras and fresh oysters are shifted through the French capital over the Christmas season, as no well-dressed festive table will be seen without them. Try ‘Un Saumon à Paris’ (Latin Quarter) for pricey but princely salmon; ‘Foie Gras de Luxe’ (Les Halles) for the eponymous pâté; and ‘L’Ecailler du Bistrot’ (Charonne) for oysters of excellence. Chocoholics: head to Jacques Genin in the Marais, where signature eclairs and tarts glisten in glass cases, and the millefeuilles are made to order.