It might seem like it’s still a long way off, but here in Paris, preparations are well underway for Christmas. Lights have sprung up in the main shopping streets, and all the gay bars in our neighbourhood, the Marais, have begun hanging up the decorations.
If you’re coming to Paris in the run-up to Christmas, then we hope that you think about staying in one our gay-friendly furnished apartments. But much more importantly, though, we hope you take some time to make the most of some of the best shopping in the world to pick up some excellent presents to take your loved-ones back home!
We’ve already talked about some of the exceptional food you can try in Paris here on the blog, whether it’s sweet treats like macarons from Ladurée or delicious hot chocolate from Café Angelina. Food halls, delis and even ordinary supermarkets are beginning to stock up with Christmas favourites from all over France, including foie gras, with local consumers showing none of the squeamishness other countries have about force-feeding geese to produce the fatty liver pâté. Bakers and pâtissiers, meanwhile, are hard at work producing the bûche de Noël, the traditional Christmas yule log.
Two weeks ago we recommended shopping on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, but if your budget doesn’t quite stretch, then you could try one of our favourite online sites, studiohomme.com (with a showroom at 62, rue Réaumur), which specialises in designer menswear from big French names like Kitsuné as well as up-and-coming creators.
Paris might be well-known for the old masters lining the walls of its fabulous galleries, but if you’re interested in slightly more modern art and design, then you’re spoilt for choice. Our favourite is the Atarzart Design Bookstore (83, quai Valmy), with a range of books on photography, architecture and more. It also enjoys a great canal-side location, perfect for a stroll.
One of the best places to pick up unusual gifts is at a museum shop, and two of Paris’ newest cultural institutions have stores that go far beyond the usual souvenir poster. La Gaîtié Lyrique (3 bir, rue Papin ), a former theatre which has been transformed into a museum of digital culture, carries a range of gadgets, gizmos and hard to find video games for the geek in your life. French charity Emmaüs recycles unwanted clothes and furniture, selling them on to raise money in charity shops around the city. Their new location at Le Centquatre (104, rue d’Aubervilliers), though, only sees the best pieces, with real bargains to be add on exclusive designer items. It’s well worth a visit and unlike any charity store you’ve ever seen!