Take a walk with our No Worries Paris guide. Get inspired, get with it.
No doubt about it, the French love weekend meals outdoors in the fresh air. The ritual can last hours and depending on consumption of wine, even longer. Picnic spots are numerous. I like Bercy, Parc Montsouris, Champs de Mars, Parc Monceau, Place des Vosges, Square du Vert-Galant, Bois de Boulogne, Quai de Valmy, just to name a few.
Buying your picnic food can be a challenge. Finding central locations where everything is available can save time and frustration. Your neighborhood charcuterie probably carries most of what you’re looking for but you’ll have to add on a trip to the boulangerie, cheese and wine store.
Happily there are places that offer gourmet cold delicacies and all the trimmings, even dessert. Here are some addresses:
Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, 35 boulevard Haussmann
GLG occupies two floors and offers a home delivery service. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds, cases of mouth-watering delicatessen will have you buying more than you can eat. Fresh produce and specialities from the best international and regional food brands abound. Tasting bars dot the first floor.
Le Bon Marché, 38, rue de Sèvres
A temple of good taste, La Grande Epicerie de Paris sells 30,000 gourmet products.
It’s located on the ground floor of Le Bon Marché, Paris’s oldest department store, where its bakery, patisserie, butcher’s and cheese shop will all urge you to give in to gourmet temptation. Prices depend on the age and origin of the product, so you can just as easily enjoy a delicious lavender macaroon for two euros as bankrupt yourself for a bottle of olive oil.
One of the biggest markets in Paris, the Marché Bastille’s food stalls sprawl up the Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week. It’s a great source of local cheeses, free range chicken and excellent fish. The piles of fruit, vegetables, saucisses, olives and quiches are interspersed with stalls offering African batiks, cheap jewelery and bags, discount scarves and linens.
Marché Mouffetard, 139 Rue Mouffetard
A wonderful, narrow crowded market street cobblestones and all. Charcuterie, creperies, cheeses, fruit, flowers, rotisserie chicken, pates, seafood shops wind down the hill. A moveable feast, you’re guaranteed a peek at how it used to be before le supermarche.
Paris’s “Winter Sales” began on January 11 and continue through February 21. It’s not just department stores that are having them. The big fashion houses are also in on the discount extravaganza and there are bargains to be had.
The discounts are deep, 50 to 70% on selected items. Get there when the doors open, when everything is neatly piled and lines less long at the cash register. Some designers have to limit the number of shoppers in their department store boutiques. You’ll always see a queue of just-off-the-jetters who go for the big brand names.
Values are waiting in the triangle d’or (Avenue Montaigne, Ave George V, and Rue Francois 1er), where the finest Haute Couture shops in the world are located. The prestigious houses include: Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Dolce e Gabbana, Max Mara, Christian LaCroix, Valentino, Prada, Ungaro, Joseph, Bonpoint, Jean Louis Scherrer, Gucci, Pucci, Loewe, Krizia, Bulgari, Calvin Klein, Nina Ricci, Ines de la Fressange, Donna Karan, Celine, Yves Saint Laurent (headquarters), Bulgari, S.F. Dupont, Porthault Linens, Caron, Hermes, Gianfranco Ferré, Givenchy, Kenzo. Rochas, Courreges, and Balmain. Be prepared to have your purse searched before entering.
Tired just reading the list? The Georges V (31, avenue George V) to the rescue with a time-out drink at Le Bar or light meal in the L’Orangerie restaurant. The staff are always gracious and welcoming; the flower arrangements will take your breath away. Sidenote: If you’re a guest, free flower arranging classes are offered by their world-renowned flower magician ($200 for non-guests); the staff offer guests a special morning hour-long jog at 7:30 along the Seine, through the Tuileries (free, once a week), room rates start at $800 a night.
At 50-70%, even the couture prices may well be beyond your means. Depot-vente (secondhand boutiques) present another choice. Dive into the piles for some amazing bargains all year round:
Didier Ludot, 24 Galerie Montpensier – Jardin du Palais Royal 75001 http://www.didierludot.fr
Kiliwatch, 64 Rue Tiquetonne, 75002 http://www.kiliwatch.fr
Take a little trip to my newest discovery. You’ll enter through what looks like a cafe/bookshop, walk a few steps down a narrow passageway and Voila….it opens to a two story boutique full of items and ideas you will want to bring home.
After you get your fill, which could be hours and hours, finish your shopping day in their wine bar just next door.
111 BOULEVARD BEAUMARCHAIS 75003 PARIS
MÉTRO – LIGNE 8 – MÉTRO SAINT SÉBASTIEN FROISSART
BUS – LIGNES 20 ET 65
Lundi 10h – 19h
Mardi 10h – 19h
Mercredi 10h – 19h
Jeudi 10h – 19h
Vendredi 10h – 19h
Samedi 10h – 19h
It used to be you could buy an article of clothing, accessory, delicacy or souvenir that had the label “Made in France”. I tried my best to hunt down such gifts only to find almost everything is made in China, Morrocco, Bangladesh, and India. Even the Chanel lotion I bought at the airport on my way home was made in New Jersey. And strict new rules forbid bringing back cheeses, pates, sausages, most everything edible. Wine and chocolate are okay.
I don’t go to Paris to shop. I have other things to do that are more important. BUT, when the days dwindle down to departure time, I develop guilty feelings and break down. Friends and family deserve a little something, and I mean LITTLE.
Tea pleases most everyone and packs light. Galeries Lafayette gourmet and the Bon Marche have great selections.
Macarons are traditional. Laduree are some of the best and there’s an outlet at DeGaulle.
All purchased at Monoprix on the Champs Elysees. 1. Caudile hydrating cream $13; 2. LaRoche sunscreen $15; 3. Chocolate, $2-$4; 4. Eiffel Tower postcards $1.20 each; 6. Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse (the best), $20
Paris bracelet, Galeries Lafayette, $7; 2. Traditional silver coated almonds; 3. Nuxe honey lip balm, $10; 4. Nuxe oil (again, because I like it); 5. Art postcard on thick matte paper, $1.50; 6. Melvita rose water, $15; 7. Hydrating face masks, 3-5 euros. 8. Vogue Paris accessory, $8.
Light tote from Grand Galerie de L’Evolution (Jardin des Plantes), 4 euros) 2. No Worries Paris, one of Paris’s best walking guides; 3. hat, $12, Au Printemps; 4. paper goods, Merci, (111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003); 5. Necklace, Au Printemps; 6. Lait-Crème Concentré – Embryolisse, $16; 7. Petite notebook, Merci, 3 euros.
Scarf, Galeries Lafayette, 17 euros; 2. Selection of trendy, cleverly packaged medallion bracelets ranging from 3 to 12 euros, Merci, a must-see concept store in trendy 3rd arrondissement (with 2 restaurants).
Alas, it will be time to depart and your leftover euros are burning a hole in your pocket. Take caution when it comes to the cosmetics vendors at the airport. Your aim was to return home with French products, non?
I didn’t check where these were made and hoping not China or New Jersey. This is the Chanel display at DeGaulle. Irresistable. I’ll take the black pair. Put it on my Visa (just fantasizing, of course).
No one wants to look like a dweeb, unstylish, unhip, touristy. Just what are they wearing in Paris? What’s trendy? If you do your research on the internet you’ll come up with hundreds of opinions. Pinterest has all sorts of looks to sort through. Fashion houses, magazines, blogs featuring beautiful models in eyecatching yet unpractical ensemble are misleading. There is no ONE answer, it’s all about you and the confidence you have with what suits you. At the end of the day, after walking all over the city, one factor comes to mind: comfort. So start with that, just don’t look sloppy.
A good rule of thumb is to sit in a cafe on a hip street like Rue Montorgueil and watch the passerbys. You’ll end up with load of ideas that you can immediately take to Galeries Lafayette, Bon Marche, Zara, H&M or cool little boutiques in the Marais. The right purse, scarf, shoes all add up to one great “feel good” look just for you.
Some links that will serve you well:
Confusing? Understandable. Just start with the basics, go light, come back chic/cool.
Zip out to La Defense one of these evenings for a little shopping and holiday gaity. Covering almost 3 acres and located beneath the glitzy lights of the esplanade’s skyscrapers, the Christmas Village with over 350 chalets is the biggest, most authentic one in Ile-de-France.
Fill your bags with a potpurri of unique gifts by craftspeople from across France as well as Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Iran, China and Nepal. Santa will be there for the kids afternoons, from 12pm-5pm on Wednesdays, 12pm-3pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 12pm-7pm on Saturdays and Sundays, right up to Christmas Eve. Local produce, mulled wine to sip, original fashion accessories, Corsican sausages, raclette cheese, and the sounds of traditional Peruvian flute music filling the nippy air make this a seasonal must-do.
La Défense (ligne 1, and RER line A)
Esplanade de la Défense (ligne 1)
Note: Both stations are in zone 3, but can also be accessed using a T+ ticket or a zone 1-2 only pass by Metro line 1. You can’t go there by RER with 1-2 zone pass.
La Défense can be reached on RER A, Transiliene L, Transiliene U, tramway T2, station La Défense. It can be very confusing but ‘Les Quatres Temps’ is color coded. There are many maps around the shopping center.
Pass beneath the iron filagree gate and you’ll enter a street like no other in Paris. Trust me, you won’t make it through this neighborhood without buying something: fine pastries, cheeses, chocolates, rotisserie, charcuterie, flowers, all gourmet quality. Not a shopper?, then take it all in at one of the cafes or restaurants dotting every corner. A happening place full of history and authenticity. Historic houses decorated with elaborate ironwork can be found at #17, #23, and #25, Rue Montorgueil. Many of the buildings on the street also feature painted facades.
Pedestrians rejoice. A few delivery trucks make their way through at times but mostly you’re free to saunter along sniffing and devouring all the colorful activity with your eyes. Cameras down, enjoy the moment and the buzz of the locals. Rue Montorgueil’s name translates literally to “Mount Pride”. Kids love this street; watch for the walking balloon vendor.
Tips: Charles Chocolatier, Stohrer patisserie, Le Rocher de Cancale, L’escargot are some of the places you’ll want to stop in. Streets including Rue Dussoubs and Rue Saint-Sauveur date to the 11th century.
How to get here:
Etienne Marcel (Line 4)
Sentier (Line 3)
Réaumur Sebastopol (Lines 3 & 4)
I’ve procrastinated long enough. Time to get back to my Paris blog, knowing for certain that my dear friends in town are rallying back to their daily routines.
Taking you to the 10th makes me a little queasy, but I have a story to share. It takes you to a tiny atelier on rue des Vinagniers, number 49, where Evelyne Lohier “brodeur a Paris depuis 1923” creates one-of-kind embroidered pieces.
The official name of Evelyne’s shop is “Tete de Linotte.” Linotte in English is Linnet, a seed-eating European finch of the family Fringillidae, sometimes referred to as a house finch in the United States. “Linotte” is also a French idiom for birdbrain, featherhead, airhead, flibbertigibbet, pea brain, big goof. It wasn’t until that evening when I was looking at her business card that I fully got the play on words. However, I found Evelyne quite the opposite: commited, passionate, and focused.
The shop is small. But step inside and you’ll find a room to converse and look at a wide array of fabric brooches, embroidered purses, gloves, scarves. A small metal industrial embroidery machine, once belonging to Evelyne’s grandmother, commands the corner along with bobbins of thread and fabric.
Passion for her craft fueled our two-hour conversation. We are on the floor as she pulled out sample after sample of various techniques. Elaborate tissue patterns two generations old, still with blue powdered pin tracks, were pulled out of large ancienne cardboard jackets.
A binder of her work for haute couture and ready-to-wear demonstrated Eveylyne is not some artsy crafty hobbiest, but a seasoned artist who has carried on her craft professionally in a time-honored tradition.
She graciously was not in a hurry to get back to her work. She knew I would want a photo and quickly neatened up the work area. Her demonstration made it look easy. I looked at her hand as she guided the cloth to write the world “summer” with a sweet flower at the end of the “r” to jazz it up. Voila! The visit ended on a high note as she whisked me away to another artist two doors down who makes the beads she incorporates into her creations. More on that later.
Go to her website and check out the upcoming outdoor shows she shares with other artists. http://www.tetedelinotte/fr.com
Tête de Linotte , 49 rue des vinaigriers, 75010 Paris firstname.lastname@example.org, métro: Gare de l’Est / Jacques Bonsergent
These are stressful times in Paris. A timeout for tea is recommended with two of the local brands that I particularly like: Kusmi and Mariage Frères. Favorites: Kusmi Detox, Mariage Frères De-Stress (a tea to escape the maddening world). I’ve purchased both at the Bon Marche and Galeries Lafayette epiceries.
The story begins in 1867 when Pavel Michailovitch Kousmichoff opened his teahouse in St. Petersburg. By the turn of the century he owned eleven teahouses and sent his eldest son, Viatcheslav, to London to learn about tea. Viatcheslav took over the family business after the death of his father and then transferred the business’ operations to Paris on the eve of the Russian Revolution. He died just after World War II in 1946 leaving his son Constantin to take over a family business much weakened by the war years.
But Constantin didn’t have the same business acumen as his father or grandfather. He was a man who loved life and burned the candle at both ends. An artist and a tea lover, he just didn’t understand figures. On the brink of bankruptcy in 1972 he sold the business for a pittance. In 2003, Kousmichoff was bought by the Orebi brothers who now carry on the tradition. The colorful packaging will tempt you, so will the open tin displays. You’ll find this tea in supermarches, boutiques, department stores and the airport.
Mariage Frères – Rive Gauche, 13 rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris
District : Musée d’Orsay – Saint-Germain-des-Prés
24, 27, 58, 70, Balabus
Metro: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame
Tea House: Address: 260 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008
If you’re looking for smooth, this brand with more than 500 varieties is a standout and the one I’m turning to as winter approaches. Start at their website for ingredients:
Their Secrets of the Himalaya line is full of allure:
“Un thé en majesté
Thé noir des hautes montagnes himalayennes aux belles feuilles torsadées, roulées à la main. Riche en bourgeons argentés, il délivre un arôme épicé doublé de senteurs de fruits exotiques.
L’infusion de couleur abricot offre un bouquet sensuel, un fruité malté presque épicé, une fragrance originale, chaude et opulente.”
Shop online or better yet, step up to the apothecary-style display counters at one of their outlets in Paris and tell the expert what you’re preferences are. Have him fill up a sachet and start your tea adventure. A little history:
The tea trade in France began to boom in the middle of the 17th century. At this time, King Louis XIV and the French East India Company encouraged the exploration of distant lands in the search of exotic goods. Around 1660, Nicolas and Pierre Mariage began voyaging on behalf of the royal court: Pierre was sent to Madagascar on a mission for the French East India Company, while Nicolas made several trips to Persia and Indiabefore being named part of an official deputation sent by Louis XIV to sign a trade agreement with the Shah of Persia. Successive generations of the Mariage family remained in the tea trade and in 1843, by then reflecting their experience and knowledge of the tea trade, members of the Mariage family opened their first wholesale shop in Paris.
Henri and Edouard Mariage, in June 1854, founded the present-day Mariage Frères Tea Company. For over 130 years the company was managed by four generations of Mariage tea merchants who maintained a wholesale-only business from their Parisian warehouse. The business consisted of importing premium quality leaf teas from the Orient, which were then traded to first class hotels and tea shops in France.
In 1983 the company transformed itself from a wholesale import firm into a retail company. Under the leadership of Kitti Cha Sangmanee and Richard Bueno, Mariage Frères started opening tea houses within central Paris. The first tea emporium and tea salon, located on rue du Bourg-Tibourg, opened in the same building where Henri Mariage had his offices over 150 years ago. The illusion with 19th-century colonial and exotic furniture, cash registers, counters and tea instruments is nearly perfect. But they all come from the historic former tea office and deposit in Rue du Cloître-Saint-Merri.
Today, the company operates over 30 Mariage Frères points-of-sale within France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. There are four Mariage Frères tearooms in Paris. DeanDeLuca carries it in New York.