|Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées|
(American Frog Photography)
Imagine that: We could be Christmas shopping in Paris right about now.
We could visit les grands magasins, the great department stores depicted in so many novels and movies.
Le Bon Marché, the only major department store located on Paris' Left Bank, celebrated its 160th anniversary this year. 160 years!
|The store was founded in 1852. This photo dates back to 1929|
|Le Bon Marché today|
|Le Bon Marché, Christmas 2012|
What do you mean, "You prefer la Rive Droite?"
Let's see... La Samaritaine, the first Bon Marché off-spring, closed in 2005, and when it finally re-opens, in 2014, it will be a luxury hotel, no doubt owned by an international chain. Quel dommage.
Granted we could always pay les Grands Boulevards a visit; and stop by les Galeries Lafayette or le Printemps stores. There is just one tiny little problem: When I shop there, I get distracted by the flamboyant buildings and forget to peruse the wares... Does that happen to you as well?
|Under the Galeries Lafayette's glass and steel dome, a couple of Christmases ago...|
(American Frog Photography)
In fact, there is another tiny little problem: Christmas crowds. Why don't we skip them altogether and head to favorite boutiques and neighborhoods instead?
Let's stop at the Lancel flagship store on the way. It is located next to the Opéra Garnier.
|Inside Lancel (my favorite French leather goods brand)|
(American Frog Photography)
Let's jump on the Métro and head for le Marais neighborhood. La rue des Franc-Bourgeois and its boutiques await... Life is good in le Marais. Shopping or not, we will keep busy...
Oh, I know, why don't we walk to la Galerie Vivienne, the most elegant of all Parisian passages (covered shopping arcades?) We could stop by le Grand Colbert afterwards for a late afternoon pastry and coffee; or even stay for dinner, pourquoi pas?
|Le Grand Colbert|
So much to do... So many boutiques to see... We could...
Pardon? What do you mean you can't go? Oh. You're right of course. I can't go either, this year. Well, the fantasy was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?
Our friends will be disappointed, you realize. They hoped we would return stateside with bags overflowing with French gifts. Wait. We can still do that. We do not need to fly to Paris. We can find gifts for our favorite francophiles, here in the United States.
Suivez-moi... Follow me...
- Pour l'amoureux/l'amoureuse de Paris (for the Paris lover)
... because one can never have too many Eiffel Towers...
|Red Parisian Pajamas|
|Eiffel Tower Muse Ring Holder(a wonderful hostess gift!)|
|Pottery Barn's Eiffel Tower bottle stopper|
|Pottery Barn's Eiffel Tower Cocktail shaker|
- Pour la fashionista...
Kate Spade "Aced" this shopper, don't you think? Now is a good time to get it. It is on sale I believe...
|Kate Spade's French Pâtisserie Bon Shopper |
Lancel leather handbags are difficult to find in the United States. On the other hand, Longchamp has become widely available, thanks to their US online boutique. Everyone knows their famous (and affordable) Pliage line. I like to surprise my special girlfriends with their cute and versatile pochette (or large size cosmetic bag.) Like the rest of the line, it comes in a variety of colors. My favorites (they go with everything:) graphite and taupe.
It is not secret French women love their scarves. The trick is tying your pretty foulard (silk scarf) just so. Not an easy feat, you realize, unless you want to stick to the same knot for ever. Anne, a fellow blogger, knows everything there is to know about scarves and loves to share her expertise on her elegant blog, Playing with Scarves. Even better, she has come up with a wonderful CD tutorial, available on her site. I received my copy a few weeks ago and loved the beautiful photos and clear instructions. An excellent gift idea for all Grace Kelly wannabees... made in Florida... by a French woman!
Finally... a unique new fragrance by Guerlain. I love le parfum, and who could resist that bottle?
|Guerlain's new fragrance and its irresistible bottle: |
Every woman needs a little black dress...
- Pour le gourmand/la gourmande (for the gourmet)
Savor life as the French do...
Even picnics have several courses in France... This is the knife you will find on most French picnic tables. Comes in different sizes and colors (mine is a # 8.) Always sharp. Indestructible.
Another item a good French home won't be caught without: linens by Garnier Thiebaut. When we have picnics at the local winery and attend outdoor summer concerts, I often use a couple of their colorful kitchen towels and spread them on the grass... an elegant way of displaying les munchies. Recent models wear Garnier Thiebaut's trademark whimsical colors and patterns.
|Beautiful... and they can teach you French words too!|
|Garnier Thiebaut Kitchen towel|
French chocolatiers are renowned around the world. Most work in France, but fortunately, a few have brought their talent and creativity to the United States...
Meet the chocolate Master! I discovered Jacques Torres' confections during my recent New York trip. Once "le Meilleur Ouvrier de France," (France's Best Craftsman,) and later on the pastry chef at the prestigious Le Cirque restaurant, Torres owns boutiques all over Manhattan. The "Jacques' Choice" collection, packaged in his pretty signature boxes, offers a sample of his most popular confections. And who could resist his darling chocolate snowmen?
- Pour l'amateur de bouquins (for the book lover)
You wish you lived in a beautiful home in the French countryside. You love dogs. Look no further: Voilà le perfect coffee table book...
|The French Dog: Amazing!|
Let's not forget [French] cat lovers...
|The French cat|
New York or Paris? Entre les deux, mon coeur balance... (My heart sways between them) Why choose? Everyone is talking about this fabulous little book by illustrator Vahram Muratyan, as they should: It is clever, humorous and mostly spot on. For the Paris/New York/big city lover in your life.
|A gem of a book...|
I may get the matching postcard set...
|Paris vs. New York: Postcard set|
Finally, art lovers will be pleased to hear they can visit le Musée d'Orsay without the long Christmas lines... thanks to this new book found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art store...
|Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Orsay museum!|
See? It was not that difficult... and we did not even have to fly to Paris to find all these treasures. Merci, l'Internet! By the way, if you feel like searching some more, do visit etsy.com. Many French-themed, handcrafted gifts, made - with love - in the U.S.A., await...
So what do you think? Do you like any of these, for yourself, a friend or a relative? Isn't it fun to play "Père Noël?"
I don't know about you, but Christmas commercialism or not, I love looking for the perfect gift for that special someone; then watching their face as they unwrap le cadeau; and finally feeling soooo happy when you realize you "nailed it."
Happy gift giving!