Admittedly, I’m a bit of a Grinch when it comes to Christmas. I don’t really care for this seasonal overindulgence when it comes to shopping and food, but it’s hard to avoid it. Particularly when my loved ones big and small are looking forward to receiving my gifts. To get myself in the mood, I love going to Galeries Lafayette (40 Boulevard Haussmann). People make a big fuss about their window decorations every year – and it’s quite understandable. It always is rather spectacular. This year’s theme is the North Pole and polar bears. The young paper artist Lorenzo Papace not only features them dancing in the window display, but this year’s animated mega Christmas tree under the dome is also crafted completely of white paper. A Smartphone app that merges the real world with the virtual world and makes it snow in the middle of the department store turns the scenery into a poetic Christmassy paper chase for ice bears instead of Pokémon.
On the exclusive Rue Saint-Honoré the prices know no limits. Whoever doesn’t care about brand logos on bags, purses and leather accessories will enjoy La Maroquinerie Saint-Honoré (334 rue Saint-Honoré). Beautiful designs and fine Italian leather at affordable prices – some of my friends have found a range of hand bags here to last them almost a lifetime.
Another secret tip which always scores me points with the editors of the big German fashion mags is the shoe shop What For (15 rue vieille du Temple) in the middle of the Marais district. The striking designs and the high-quality finishes (welt-sewn leather soles!) strongly resemble the big brands such as Prada, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs or Yves Saint Laurent. The reason: the rather young label, which has only existed since 2013, produces its wares in the same Chinese factories as the luxury brands. Consequently, some models look exactly like the big-brand catwalk shoes, with just a few altered details, and brought to market two seasons later and four-times cheaper. Following in the footsteps of success: today, there are already three boutiques in Paris and 500 POS worldwide.
A paradise for gift inspirations can be found just a few steps further in Fleux (39 and 52 Rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie). An infinite selection of beautiful cushions, plaids, flatware, candles, small furniture items and decoration ideas with mainly Scandinavian and French designs: Interior design lovers are sure to find something here. And if the items are too big to fit in a suitcase, a delivery service can send your purchases to a destination of your choice.
One classic is Merci: the big concept store in the spectacular backyard of a workshop (111 Boulevard Beaumarchais) stocks pretty much everything from fashion to furniture to interior design accessories. Personally I particularly like the stationery department on the ground floor where you can find extremely beautiful stationery and smaller gift ideas. And the best thing of all: you’ll not only make your loved ones smile, but you’ll also behelping others as a portion of the proceeds is regularly donated to social projects in developing countries. This of course earns you a double thank you.