Gift-giving in Paris is an art as much as anything else, and duty free booze just isn't going to cut it. Instead, explore these temples of good taste to find the perfect present – and it's guaranteed you'll want to treat yourself as well.
Merci, Paris's latest concept shopping sensation, is housed in an elaborately reconfigured 19th-century fabric factory. Inside, three loft-like floors heave with furniture, jewellery, stationery, fashion, household products, childrenswear and a haberdashery. That's not all. In a move that takes the trend for retailer responsibility to a new level, this most generous of general stores gives all its profits to charity.
There are two reasons to walk down passage Josset in the 12th: it’s quaint and off the beaten track; and it’s home to Les Fleurs, a girly boutique extraordinaire that drips with funky jewellery, bags, rococo mirrors and all sorts of gizmos and gadgets for little and grown up girls alike. Owner Lucie Deniset has handpicked little-known, yet confirmed creators (like Nat&Nin, Adeline Affre and Titlee) to create a range of desirables quite unlike elsewhere in Paris – a move that has made Les Fleurs so popular, you can hardly move for the crowds, especially on Saturdays.
This commendably ethical store stocks a great range of stuff for junior and grown-up gadgeteers, from infrared parent detectors to high-tech weather stations. It's also worth remembering that ten per cent of all the group's profits go to the Fondation Nature et Découvertes, which supports environmental causes in Europe and Africa.
Caractère is specialized in ‘l’art du bureau’ – a.k.a. making your office space look as dapper as possible, with designer pens, beautiful paper, photo albums, diaries, key rings, wallets and cards. Christian Lacroix's exquisite range of notepads (some of them glittery) are sold here; you’ll also find quirky objects like macaroon shaped key rings by Ladurée, and limited edition pens by designers like Michel Audiard. If you’re looking for a personalized present, Caractère can print names or initials onto their range of leather key rings.
If you’re buying gifts for children, L’Ourson en Bois on rue de Charenton should be your first port of call, with shelves packed to the gunnels in wooden toys and teddies. You’ll find knights on horseback, dolls, farmyard animals, cuddly bears, paper lamps and even children’s furniture – all mostly made in Europe. It’s like stepping into a kiddies film set.