You’re about to leave Paris—with no space in your bags—but you still need to grab those perfect souvenirs. Fear not! They’re all around you, inexpensive and lightweight.
1. Go to a good papeterie. These shrines to the French love of presentation carry organizers, pencil cases and notebooks by artists such as Sandrine Fabre and Herisson. My favorite, Moeti (30, rue Dauphine, in the 6th Arrondissement), is open seven days a week and packed with goodies, including very French cards, stationery and surprises by Fifi Mandirac.
2. Gibert Joseph and Gibert Jeune have cartons à dessin, the marbleized portfolios that say parisienne as perfectly as a well-tied scarf. (These also help preserve your treasures: programs, posters, menus). Consider also a Quo Vadis agenda. These run from August to August—the French school year—and come in many colors. They are packed with maps and all sorts of info, plus room for appointments.
3. At Melodies Graphiques, you’ll gasp at the elegance of the calligraphy by owner Eric de Tugny, as well as his embossed bookmarks, cut-paper cards, pens and accessories.
4. If you haven’t seen Deyrolle, a boutique of taxidermy and entomology since 1831, you owe it to yourself. Not only is the place a Parisian institution, but it also stocks an incredible range of repro 18th-century posters. These instructional charts cover every type of flora and fauna (trees, coffee, orchids, birds . . .) and make great presents for almost anyone.
5. Spa enthusiasts back home can luxuriate in Parisian bien-être (wellness) via Herbéus, whose sealed bags of leaf teas for infusions are wonderful. So are their soaps, especially savon d’Alep, the oldest—and some say finest—soap in the world.
6. For the traditionalist, St. Germain’s Ladurée stocks a deck of playing cards (in standard bridge size) whose characters charmingly represent the boutique’s yummy confections.
7. American diabetics and dieters have Sweet’N Low, Splenda and Equal in packets. Parisians have Canderel, which comes in tiny, purse-ready dispensers designed by celebs like Karl Lagerfeld, Chantal Thomass and Edmond Kiraz. Real French fetish items—and great budget keepsakes.
8. Fashionista souvenir heaven: JB Guanti, which carries only gloves, gloves, gloves! They’re Italian—French girls love Italian style—but the real attraction here is the huge range of colors. The favorite Parisian pattern is the elegant pois, or polka dots. But you’ll find both fabulous styles and luscious colors. NB: If you want the perfect made-in-France gloves, don’t forget Maison Fabre, mentioned in our Unique Shops section.
9. To please that lonesome doggie back home, check out Un Chien dans le Marais. Grab the chicest collar ever in pink patent leather—or a very Marais camouflage.
10. Going to be greeting children? Hip Parisian parents visit Du Pareil au Même for adorable, affordable socks, caps and scarves. Especially French are their tabliers, or school smocks.
11. For anyone who entertains, browse La Vaissellerie (many locations) for a set of portes-couteaux, those knife rests that keep tables and tablecloths clean. Also: coffee bowls in many colors, at 1.50 euros apiece and not too heavy.
12. Finally, if you must have an Eiffel Tower, why not the Eiffel Tower râpe (cheese grater) from Pylones on the Île St. Louis? They come in two sizes, each flat-packed. The shop is full of irresistible oddities, items both witty and pretty.
Cynthia Rose first lived in Paris at the age of 16, where she worked at a marionette theatre and helped create a phonetic guide to help Anglophone students order pâtisserie. After university at Newnham College, Cambridge, she found the shortest path back to high heels, fine fashions and la vie mouvementée was work as an arts and culture writer, author and broadcaster. Cynthia loves high tech and street art as much as the skills of boulanger Eric Kayser and midfielder Franck Ribéry. Her article appears courtesy of Girls Guide to Paris.