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She Goes Gift Shopping in Paris



French 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!

In Résonances, 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...

Another 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...

Finally, 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.

They 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 ("in").

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!




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