Alternative shopping in Paris
by Linda Mak
Tis the season to be shopping! And, love it or hate it, it’s time to start thinking about the gifts for all the kids in your life. Paris has no shortage of shopping destinations, from fancy chocolates to even fancier clothes, so where do you even begin? To get you going, MLP has a few thought starters that may take you to some new places around town. Hopefully this list will have something for everyone, including you!
Find someone to cuddle and love!
Not what you’re thinking. How about adopting a pet? There are lots of cats and dogs in shelters, refuges and in foster-care that would love a permanent home. We are still trying to convince the Dad to agree to adopt a kitten, but once we get over that little hurdle, one of these non-profit organizations, SOLANA, SPA or the Bridget Bardot Foundation, is where we’ll find our new family addition.
Or just cuddle.
Yes, I know, we have way too many stuffed animals! But they’re so cute and kids love them. They’re soft and don’t harm anyone. This tiny shop in the 14th Pelucchi d’Anton has every plush animal imaginable, from a life-sized toy goat, to a scary, yet soft, scorpion.
The owner is so kind that it’s really worth a stop to just say ‘Bonjour!’ and check out his very much loved menagerie.
Bon Marché, of course, also has a wonderful toy department with very nice soft (and other) toys.
For the Bookworm
For English books, MLP’s favorite bookstore is Shakespeare & Company. Read MLP’s story about it here. Or if you’re looking for a Paris-themed picture book, review MLP’s recommendations here. For grown-ups, think about a copy of David Lebovitz’s wonderful new book ‘L’appart’ about his rather challenging apartment renovation in Paris.
For French books with character, take a look at the antique and secondhand book market at Parc Georges Brassens that happens every Saturday and Sunday. And for French kids’ books check out Le Divan Jeunesse on Rue Convention in the 15th.
What about comic books? There are French / Manga comic book stores all around town. And comic books are a great way to get your kids into reading and reading in French. We love this shop in St. Germain called Album because it has a great book selection and a whole lot of other cute knick knacks.
For the Collector
For vintage collectable toys you must go to Lulu Berlu in the 11th. Also check out the Marché aux Puces at Saint Ouen. Or go to the smaller and more manageable flea market at Porte de Vanves, Paris Puces de Vanves, where vintage stamps, glassware, molds, posters and key chains are all waiting to be discovered.
For the Tiny Dancer or Puppet Master
To create your own costumes, decorations or just supplement your dress-up box with tutus and feather boas, visit the fabric quarter below Sacre Coeur in the 18th by the famous Marché Saint Pierre fabric store.
For the Player
Try switching off and playing a lo-fi parlor game like Chinese Checkers or Backgammon. Games in Blue in the 15th has everything for the non-battery powered game lover. They have puzzles too! Plus they’re always in the holiday spirit because it is decorated like this, all year round.
For the Builder
For the Creative Types
The toy store Le Grand Récré has an extensive arts and craft department and Rougier & Ple is a very good art supply store. For a charming traditional shopping experience, go to Magasin Sennelier near the Seine. However, you cannot forget MLP’s favorite stationery, plus everything else department and hardware store, it’s always BHV in the Marais!
For Potions and Poisons
Paris is full of the smelly stuff! Recently we dropped into one of the Fragonard boutiques. It was full of tourists, but it’s a fun, pretty shop and we all left smelling divine! Or for a boutique that is more like an apothecary, try Officine Universelle Buly, where they will nicely handwrite, in calligraphy, the recipient’s name on your gift packet. And for a more contemporary experience, where you can get a diagnosis to find the ideal perfume for yourself, treat yourself to a visit to Nose in the 2nd.
For those that want to start from scratch, have you checked out the Aroma Zone? It’s an aromatherapy spa and cosmetics supermarket, near Odeon, full of raw ingredients to make your own soaps, cosmetics and potions. They have nice aroma related hampers too.
If not a beauty potion, what’s your poison? La Maison du Whisky in the 6th will likely have something warm to fill a long stocking.
Something for your neighbor with the Silky Terrier…
And after you’ve had your poison, you might have the courage to finally say, ‘Hey neighbor lady, that’s your dog and I see you left its poop behind. Yoohoo! Pick it up SVP!’ Or you could thoughtfully send her this poop scooper and bag holder, because you know she’s not carrying any plastic poop bags. Available on Amazon.fr
For that slightly naughty kid or future geologist
Perhaps not a lump of coal, but how about a crystal or a fossil? This crystal, mineral, fossil store, Les Minéreaux, in the Louvre Carousel Mall is a hit for those that love the shiny things. There’s also another crystal store in the 6th that also does Crystal Readings called Cristeaux et Coleurs.
For the Nature Lover
Real stuffed animals, as in Taxidermy, framed insects, pretty gardening equipment, nature books, vintage posters and wooden bird callers all can be found at Deyrolle. This store is like a natural history museum, except everything is for sale. Even the flamingo!
And naturally, there’s Nature & Découvertes, for all sorts of nature and well-being gifts for all ages.
For the Green Thumb
It feels like #Terrariums are trending, no? The Conran Shop has a range of terrariums and cool hanging plants. But how about making your own? Recently I did an ‘Atelier Jardin Sous Verre’ at Ikibanart in the 10th. My dexterous friend and I had a wonderful session (in French) playing with a little bit of dirt and some tiny plants, creating our own petite garden under glass. The shop also has very cool cacti and other plants hanging in mossy gourds (that aren’t gourds at all but they’re called Kokedamas) – But I still want to say, the shop is simply gourdious.
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Joyeux Noël to you all! For a long list of toy stores, read MLP’s ‘Toy Story’ post and good luck with your holiday shopping!