design and style are admired throughout the world, and this
applies to housewares, as well. A great store for houseware
gifts is Résonances.
There are several stores throughout Paris, but my favorite
is located in a very special pedestrian shopping street,
very "in" among trendy young French, called Bercy
Village (Metro Cour Saint Emilion). It was created on the
site of wine warehouses built in the 19th century, and you
can still see
the train tracks that used to take the wine to the warehouses.
The word "charming" does not do it justice!
French design is expressed in such everyday items as butter
dishes, stainless steel fruit presses and sets of multi-colored
enamel espresso cups, one each in bright red, yellow, blue
and green. And, if you're looking for a gift for that man
(or men) in your life, Résonances carries beautiful
pocketknives from about 10 to 30 euros each.
More for your men...
possible men's gift is a mini-globe that swivels in all
directions and costs less than 14 euros. This, and other
"masculine" gifts are in great abundance in the
upscale Nature et Decouvertes
stores. As the name indicates, they sell products that are
made from all-natural materials, and they donate 10% of
their profits to a nature preservation foundation. There
is an outlet in Bercy Village, but there is an even bigger
outlet in another shopping center called Carousel du Louvre
(Metro Palais Royal). Simply take the Metro exit that indicates
the shopping center name and you have direct access. In
Nature et Decouvertes, besides the globe, I saw a beautiful
wooden ball point pen in a smooth, "zen" like
wooden case. Bonus tip
-- if you want to visit the Louvre Museum, you can enter
from the far end of this shopping center where the lines
are much shorter so you get in quicker.
Shop in a monastery...
for that true French touch, why not buy a gift that was
hand-made in a French monastery? My favorite store for
this is called Artisanat Monastique,
68 bis avenue Denfert-Rochereau (RER Port Royal). The
store itself is situated in a Parisian monastery called
Monastère de la Visitation, (yes, they do exist
-- especially in this neighborhood). The atmosphere is
calm and harmonious, partially due to the fact that all
the nice ladies who wait on you are volunteers and the
goal of the store is to support a network of over 300
monasteries in France.
All the items are handicrafts
made by monks and nuns and the quality reflects that. The
store carries gifts in many different categories, starting
(after all this is France) with food gifts right next to
the entrance. I saw chocolate, biscuits and cakes and a
real treat -- pâtes de fruit or crystallized fruit.
also sell liquors, plus handmade body care products,
each item with the name of the monastery on the label.
You can, as well, find essence of lavender and other
perfumes, room scents and candles. In the basement are
the crafts with a great selection of lace trimmed nightgowns.
There are also pillows and 100% wool woven shawls. It
seem that in the past, when young women entered a convent,
they took their trousseau with them, but were not permitted
to use it, of course. After the nun's death, her family
often gave permission to sell the antique clothing and
linen to support the convent. I have never seen antique
lace sold for such a low price as in this store -- even
lace trimmed bloomers which, I was told, are now being
transformed into blouses by the young and branché
As you can see,
Paris has an abundance of gifts at reasonable prices. But, the
good stuff is often hidden from the immediate view of visitors.
Once JourneyWomen discover the secrets, you realize that you have
discovered something very special -- a way of doing things closely
connected with the past, but confidently facing the future. France
-- vive la différence!