With Paris just a couple of Eurostarred-hours away these days, there really is next to no excuse not to hop across the channel in search of Christmas shopping and festive fun. Christmas trees, sparkling decorations and enchanting window displays, Paris becomes even more magical at this time of year. However, if you do go without a gift-buying plan, it’s pretty easy to spend the whole time either getting lost or whiling the hours away in one of the City of Light’s many cafés. So here’s the cheat sheet – our guide to where to shop and stay in Paris…
One Stop Shops
Want to keep things simple? The answer lies within the city’s Gargantuan department stores; we defy you to visit Galeries Lafayette or Printemps (both around the Opéra area) and not find something special. Alternatively there’s the beautiful Le Bon Marché in Saint Germain: a art deco temple to the best of the best, selling everything from the finest hats to the chicest homewares.
Those in the know head to the legendary Citypharma in Saint Germain; it’s a one-stop shop for well-known French skincare and pharmacy brands at knock-down prices from Nuxe and Caudalie to Biotherm and Vichy. Open until late every evening, Sephora on the Champs Elsyées is a veritable Mecca for beauty mavens, with all the big name beauty brands, perfumes as far as the eye can see and an incredible range of the hottest beauty products you could hope to try. If you’re shopping for scent, we’d recommend a visit to L’Artisan Parfumeur and Frédéric Malle, as well as Marie Antoinette and Nose: two incredible independent fragrance boutiques stocking an impressive collection of rare and unusual perfumes.
Stay in Style
Understated, elegant and intimate, Hotel de la Tremoille is perfectly situated for Paris shopping – on a quiet side street just off the Avenue Georges V, a short walk from the Champs Elysées. Although the boutique hotel is housed within a traditional Haussmannian building, the interior is actually quite modern in its design, with contemporary furnishings and a stylish cocktail lounge.
Rooms and suites are cosy and welcoming, decorated in a chic palette of silver and slate greys, with crisp linens and super comfortable beds. Bathrooms feature Molton Brown amenities, and all rooms have free wifi access and flatscreen televisions. Despite the central location, Hotel de la Tremoille is unbelievably quiet – it’s a real haven of tranquility and feels a little like you’ve discovered your own secret Parisian bolthole.
Breakfast at the hotel is a copious buffet-style affair with delicious patisseries, fresh fruits and various cooked options, meaning you’ll certainly fill up before heading out to hit the shops. There’s also a fitness suite and small spa so you can either work out or chill out – if you find the time!
Design & Decoration
After something original? Start at Merci: this super cool concept store stocks a curated selection of everything from unusual homewares and furniture to quirky plates and cutlery, plus fashion and beauty products too. Take time to stop for coffee, cake or lunch while you’re here – Merci has no less than three wonderful cafés. Another one stop design store is Fleux, located in the heart of the Marais. Bright lampshades, bold printed cushions and all manner of interesting objets d’art, trinkets and curios, set aside an hour or so as there’s a lot to browse. Other lifestyle favourites include Pop Market, Caravane, Loulou Addict and Astier de Villatte.
It’s actually illegal to travel to Paris and not purchase food products. Perhaps not, but it’s hard to travel to the city of light and not do a little foodie shopping! If it’s something sweet you’re after, you simply can’t go wrong with Pierre Marcolini, Patrick Roger, Pierre Hermé or Gregory Rénard. Wine-wise, Legrand Filles & Fils is a legendary store which also stocks all sorts of gourmet treats as well as an impressively extensive range of vintages from across France. For something a little stronger, visit LMDW Fine Spirits which has a wonderful selection of boutique gins, rums, whiskeys and liqueurs. And if you’ve time, don’t forget to visit Fauchon and La Grande Epicerie de Paris…
Paris is the city of style, right? It’s also a city where – if you’re not in the market for dropping four-figure sums or browsing identikit chain stores, it can be hard to know where to shop. In terms of concept stores, Paris has more than its fair share, so if that’s your thing we’d recommend a visit to Colette, LE66 and L’Eclaireur. After something a little different? Check out So We Are: an adorable multi-brand boutique with an inspiringly eclectic selection of everything from clothes and accessories to homewares and gifts. Ethical fashion store Centre Commercial is also fantastic for gifts, as is jewellery atelier Medicine Douce and creative fashion emporium The Broken Arm. If you know where to look, Paris also has numerous ‘stock’ stores, selling brands such as Maje, A.P.C., Isabel Marant and Sandro at discount prices.
Rates at Hotel de La Trémoille start from €360 per room per night including a continental breakfast or from €330 room only. See the hotel’s website for more details. Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with return fares from £69. Eurostar also offers connecting fares from more than 300 stations in the UK. The fastest London-Paris journey time is 2hr 15 minutes. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.