Paris is synonymous with haute couture fashion and luxury goods. If money is no object when visiting this city, there are any number of possibilities in the luxury designer shops and boutiques that abound here. If you really want to splash out on souvenirs from Paris, here are just a few suggestions chosen from around the city.
If you are going to bring home a lot of souvenirs from Paris, you’ll need something to put them into and nothing says France quite so much as a piece of Louis Vuitton luggage. A new flagship store opened on the Champs Elysées in 1998 in a heritage-listed edifice built in the art déco style of the turn of the last century. Here, you can indulge in the renowned, monogrammed luggage in both the unmistakeable classic brown and black checker-board designs or the very latest styles, all in a luxurious setting.
The Champs Elysée is also home to a number of other haute couture names, such as Guerlain and Versace, as well as a surprising number of luxurious car showrooms. Toyota, Mercedes, Citroën and Bentley all draw the crowds as they stroll along this most famous Parisian boulevard. Many of the shops on the Champs Elysées are open on Sundays too, which is unusual in France.
Avenue Montaigne runs from the Champs Elysées to the River Seine. It is lined with the boutiques of many of the biggest names in designer clothing, such as Chanel, Dior, Nina Ricci, Gucci and Armani, as well as 5-star hotels, such as the Plaza Athenée. It is about the hottest street in the city for designer names, more so even than the legendary Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. That street is home to the French presidential palace and Faubourg Saint Honoré is one of the most chic addresses in the city of Paris. Top international law firms have offices there, and some fashion legends, too, the best known of which is possibly Hermès, a byword for luxury cashmere and silk scarves for over 150 years. As gift ideas go, a Hermès scarf is both lightweight and instantly recognisable by fashionistas, but the brand also carries a clothing line, fragrances and leather goods.
Under the watchful gaze of Napoleon Bonaparte dressed as Julius Caesar, the boutiques of Place Vendôme in the first arrondissement, between the Tuilerie gardens and the Garnier opera house, are the ultimate in luxury. Here, you will find the top names in jewellery such as Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Chanel and Chaumet, as well as Charvet tailoring and the 5-star Paris Ritz. Just about any souvenir gift from one of these stores is guaranteed to win you friends for life back at home.
Foodies in search of some gourmet treats in Paris need look no further than Place de la Madeleine. Here, you will find the two rival delicatessens and grocery stores of Fauchon and Hediard. Fauchon is decorated in unmistakeable pink, while Hediard presents a more sober, striped façade. Both offer a mouth-watering selection of confectionery, chocolates, savoury luxuries, such as foie gras, truffles or caviar, and non-perishable oils, vinegars and jams. On nearby Rue Royale, the Ladurée shop and tearoom offers a huge selection of their world-famous macaroons together with other sweet treats.
Once the haunt of writers and philosophers, such as Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre, Saint-Germain-des-Près in the sixth arrondissement is an excellent place to hunt down some original luxury souvenirs from Paris. The atmosphere in this part of town is one of understated chic and strolling around the surrounding streets of Rue du Cherche-Midi or Rue Bonaparte will lead you to discover a host of tiny boutiques and art galleries. It is a real treasure trove for antique books, original artwork, hand-made jewellery and designer shoes.
Foot weary shoppers can take refuge in the rival department stores of Galeries Lafayette or Printemps on boulevard Haussmann, behind the Garnier opera house. Here, you will find all of the designer names and goods under one roof. Both stores offer many services, such as a personal shopper, valet service and hotel delivery. The other great Parisian department store is on the other side of the river Seine at Sèvres Babylone. Le Bon Marché is the ultimate in chic department stores, with a ground floor luxury grocery market, La Grande Epicerie, and in-store art exhibitions. The opportunity to meet in vogue designers and limited edition beauty products is not to be found elsewhere.
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