There’s no denying that Paris is the place to shop. Everyone who’s anyone in fashion, from Chanel to Dior, is headquartered there. And every product that gives French women their impeccable style -- including perfume, lipstick, and face cream -- is readily available. But Paris is also filled with innumerable hidden shops, places visitors rarely discover on their first or even their 10th trip. They’re the spots locals visit for special gifts, for the materials necessary to complete a project, or simply for a little pick-me-up. Sometimes these shops are tiny, and, when you’re searching for them, they really will feel hidden. Others are hiding in plain sight, easily found on popular streets but often overlooked because they aren’t featured prominently in guidebooks. Either way, they’re all delightful shops, and they’re sure to make amazing travel memories.
Sharp And Smart: Coutellerie Laguiole Paris
Coutellerie Laguiole Paris sells an oh-so-French product that might be a bit of a pain for travelers to take home. The shop specializes in knives -- not just any knives, but handcrafted, quality knives for chefs, cheese lovers, wine enthusiasts, those in need of a classic pocket knife, and so much more. Thankfully, the employees know how to pack these items for airline travel. Even if buying a knife isn’t on your shopping agenda, you should still pop in and look at the displays. The store is just a short distance from Paris’s best ice cream parlor, Berthillon, on the Île de la Cité.
Champagne Celebration: Ma Cave Fleury
Paris is home to thousands of wine shops, but not all that many specialize in Champagne -- organic Champagne at that -- and none are so charming as Ma Cave Fleury on Rue Saint-Denis. You can buy Champagne by the glass or by the bottle, and you can choose from over 40 different vintages. Should your celebrations be slightly more sedate, the shop also sells French wines with an emphasis on underrepresented regions. Enjoy a basic cheese plate while you sip your wine at an outdoor table. The staff members are friendly and helpful, and the shop occasionally offers live music, too.
Supermarket Superstar: Le Grande Épicerie De Paris
Many visitors to Paris will have read about Le Bon Marché, the department store with multiple branches throughout the city. Very few, however, know to look for Le Grande Épicerie de Paris (the main location on Rue de Sèvres is right next to a Le Bon Marché). Le Grande Épicerie is a treasure trove, a delicatessen, and a gift shop all in one. You’ll find olive tapenade from southern France, freshly pressed peach nectar, fancy herbal tea blends, and decorative tins of French candies and cookies. The shop also carries dried fruit, which makes the perfect travel snack. The shop’s website offers both product information and culinary inspiration.
The Honey House: La Maison Du Miel
You can find honey for sale in most Parisian fine food stores, markets, and even gift shops, but there’s only one place in Paris that’s a true honey destination. La Maison du Miel on Rue Vignon is Paris’s “honey house.” You can get every kind of honey imaginable there, from local products to rare honey from around the world. The shop also sells travel-friendly beeswax candles in charming shapes, as well as nougats, cakes, and candy. Keep an eye out for pain d’epice, a cross between gingerbread and spice cake.
Savory Sensation: P. Boursault
In many ways, the best hidden cheese shop in Paris will be the one the hotel staff members tell you about. Simply asking where they stop to pick up cheese on their way home from work is a surefire way to find a wonderful, affordable, community-minded shop. But if you enjoy the idea of a pilgrimage, P. Boursault on Avenue du Général Leclerc sells over 250 different kinds of cheese, including several hard-to-find varieties. Even more are ripening in the cellars beneath the shop. The staff members can vacuum-pack your purchase should you favor an especially stinky blue cheese!
Low-Cost Lavender: La Pharmacie Du Forum Des Halles
The best place in Paris to pick up inexpensive, quality toiletries, like lavender soap, is any neighborhood pharmacy. And if you’re visiting Paris, you’ve probably walked by one of the best ones without even noticing it. La Pharmacie du Forum des Halles is located in the hugely popular Forum des Halles, a large underground shopping center in central Paris. Visitors go there to check out European fashions and walk right past this well-stocked pharmacy, which has a great selection of local cosmetics, soaps, lotions, body oils, and scented shower gels.
Crafter Heaven: La Droguerie
The word haberdashery doesn’t exactly sound like the embodiment of French chic, but La Droguerie on Rue du Jour is anything but an old-fashioned, dusty fabric store. Here you can find thousands of different buttons, ribbons, beads, and yarn selections; fabrics sold by the yard; handmade jewelry; and so much more. The staff members are delightful (and able to help with emergency button replacements or zipper repairs). Craft lovers should come to Paris with an empty suitcase just to stock up.
Linen And Lace: L’Artisanat Monastique
In indulgent Paris, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a monastery in the heart of the city, but at least one exists: Monastère de la Visitation on Avenue Denfert-Rochereau. At the monastery’s store, L’Artisanat Monastique, you’ll find handcrafted tablecloths and pot holders, tableware, and jams and jellies, all produced locally or at one of the 300 other monasteries across France. The prices are extremely reasonable. Be sure to check out the bargain basement if it’s open. If you’re lucky, you may just find antique, handcrafted linen and lace -- on nightgowns, on undergarments, and on pillowcases. When a nun living at the monastery dies, the family often gives the monastery permission to sell her unused (of course!) wedding trousseau.
The Canadian Connection: The Abbey Bookshop
While no bookstore can compete with Paris’s Shakespeare and Company, one of the most famous English-langauge bookstores in the world, the nearby, lesser-known The Abbey Bookshop has its own special charm. Travelers and locals alike call it “the Canadian bookstore,” and a Canadian does indeed own it. The shop sells new and used books, including plenty of titles by Canadian authors. Canadians, Americans, Anglophiles, and book fanatics alike hang out there, and it’s a great place for homesick North Americans to visit.
Fun And Funky: Papier Tigre
If you think that Paris is all about being very serious, very elegant, and very refined, a visit to Papier Tigre on Rue des Filles du Calvaire will fill you with delight. This charming, irreverent stationery store sells notebooks, planners, and greeting cards, plus pens, desk accessories, calendars, and so much more. The shop is bursting with color and funky designs, and it’s impossible not to smile there. If you’re picking up on some artistic vibes when you visit, it’s because the company’s graphic designers work on-site in the back studio. Travelers will especially love the shop’s mesh organizing pockets and versatile pencil cases, which can easily serve as cute, colorful packing cubes and suitcase organizers.
The Final Word: Elysées Stylos Marbeuf
If you want a pen -- a proper pen -- to turn your beautiful stationery into a lovely letter, Elysées Stylos Marbeuf on Rue Marbeuf is the place to go. The shop has been selling high-end pens, fountain pens, pencils, and other writing tools for nearly 65 years. If you visit early on in your trip, you’ll feel like a local, having navigated the streets just for the purpose of visiting a very specific kind of shop. Your museum postcards will thank you for it!