It’s funny that I’m writing this article given that my nickname around this time of year is “the grinch.” I’m not really into the festive spirit, preferring just to be nice, generous, and jolly all year around rather than just for a couple of weeks every winter.
However, despite my grinch ways, I am excellent at buying gifts, always able to pick out the right one for the occasion (and person). So to help you with the chore of purchasing your loved ones back home that perfect Parisian present, here are five original takes on traditional gifts.
Light Their Fire
La Note Parisienne
Now that it’s dark and cold and miserable (not my soul, the weather), a glowing scented candle can transform the mood at home with the flick of a match. But the market is flooded with these blocks of wax and it can be overwhelming trying to pick out the right one. During your trip to Paris, why not avoid the cliché of the likes of Diptyque or Cire Trudon and go for something more imaginative such as La Note Parisienne, which produces a range of candles evoking (almost) each one of Paris’ 20 arrondissements. Maison La Bougie is another great choice for beautifully boxed candles with scents including Sorbet, La Vraie Vie, and Paris.
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Nice Cream
This harsh weather can wreak havoc on one’s skin. Chapped, sore, and rough, it needs constant attention and the right product to keep to it smooth and healthy. We all know the main brands out there, but we can do better than that, ladies and gents, when it comes to offering solace to our friends’ and family.
Oh My Cream! brings together the best of clean beauty brands in one space and offers special Christmas box sets as well as individual creams for the face, body, and hair. The historic Officine Universelle Buly not only sells exquisitely bottled skin treatments, but the original store in Saint-Germain-des-Près is worth a visit in its own right. You can even have a hand-written calligraphy message included with your gift for that extra personal touch!
Officine Universelle Buly / Oh My Cream!
Scent From Heaven
Everyone likes to smell good, and odors can create strong memories and intimate moments. The problem is that if you go for, say, Chanel N°5 or Jean Paul Gauliter’s Le Male, those special instances suddenly get ruined when you come across somebody with the same scent. However, if you pick out something from the other side of the world, for example in Paris, then the chances of your unique souvenirs being hijacked are minimal. Liquides, a perfume bar with two locations in Paris, has a wide variety of little-known brands and can help you match a perfume to a specific personality. The hugely talented Serge Lutens, who has worked for Dior and Shiseido, also has his own collection of highly prestigious bouquets, each in its own elegant bottle, sure to delight the recipient.
Knock Your Socks Off
Now this is more my subject. I love me a pair of fun socks. True fact: I don’t own a single pair of single-color socks. Even if I have to dress smart, I always slip on a pair of colorful socks. Like neckties or pocket handkerchiefs, socks are the perfect accessory with which to make a statement and say a lot about your personality. With Royalties, the Parisian sock brand, you can choose between polka dots, ski, or animal motifs as well as some original weaves, safe in the knowledge that they’ll last a while given their fabrication by a couple of historic, family-owned manufacturers. For something a little bolder, take a look at Bonne Maison’s collection, where you’ll find a lot of floral patterns, some almost-psychedelic motifs, and even a few that are a tad naughty (wink wink).
The French capital is the most visited city in the world, and since it’s been written about from every possible angle, it’s almost impossible to produce some truly original material on it. The typical travel guides lead each reader to the same old places, while even the newer, trendier guides struggle to offer anything fresh.
Astier de Villatte – Sophie Delaporte
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for that seasoned Parisian traveler, think outside the box and surprise them with Ma Vie à Paris by Astier de Villatte, an atypical guidebook in the guise of a novel so as not to betray the owner as a tourist. Within its pages you’ll find the favorite spots of the ceramic company’s founders, including restaurants and cafés but also attorneys, acupuncturists, and knife sharpeners. John Baxter’s The Most Beautiful Walk in the World is a memoir-cum-literary guide to the French capital through the eyes of a writer and former tour guide, and is one of the more creative works about Paris in recent years.
Astier de Villatte – Sophie Delaporte
La Note Parisienne – available at multiple locations around Paris.
Maison La Bougie – available at multiple locations around Paris
Oh My Cream! – 6 locations throughout Paris
Officine Universelle Buly – several locations around Paris
Liquides – 9 rue de Normandie 75003 Paris
Serge Lutens – 324 rue Saint Honoré 75001 Paris
Royalties – available at multiple locations around Paris
Bonne Maison – available at multiple locations around Paris
Written by Neil Kreeger for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Written by HIP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.