Tips for Tourists in Paris: Part 5
Souvenirs and Shopping
Shopping in Paris can be both fun and frightening. Chances are you will want something to remember your trip by, and France offers lots of things to buy--but they all have a price attached! Taxes are high here, and are included in the price you see (not added to the bill like US sales tax.) This makes many things more expensive than you might expect, so be warned ahead of time.
Visa is accepted in France, but some other cards are not. Cash is always welcome, of course. Paris is full of souvenir stands, and if that's your thing make sure you look around a bit for a good deal and exactly what you want. Avoid buying from people who don't have their own stand--they will sell cheap junk (like plastic flashing Eiffel Towers) for too much.
Above all, look for something that will make you happy, that you can enjoy for a long time. It's better to spend a little more on one item that will please you for years to come than to buy a bunch of cheap junk that will get tossed out. If your souvenir is a Longchamp bag, or a pair of beautiful earrings that will always remind you of the city of Light, that's what's important! After all, Souvenir is the French word for "Remember"!
Here are some items that may be good candidates for a spot in your suitcase:
- *scarves inexpensive or not (from 1 euro to several hundred), beautiful, available everywhere and pack well. Get one for Mom or Grandma!
*food you can't take cheese, but you can take home scrumptious chocolates, bottles of wine, things in jars or sealed packages, etc. Make sure you check with US customs first, but bring home a taste of France if you can!
*books There are many books about the sites of Paris, available in all languages, at the monuments and museums.
*postcards a good substitute for pictures if it's cloudy or rainy when you visit.
*cookbooks my favorite! Try a few french recipes at home!
*posters or old maps to frame My dad and Pam frame an old (or old-style) map after every trip--very classy!
*perfume French perfume is different, even if it's the same brand (US Chanel is made in America.) French perfume is made with potato alcohol, which lasts longer and has a slightly different scent. This can make a great gift!
*Music purchase some typical French music, or something new! Serge Gainsbourg is the classic, but newer things by Emilie Simon or Carla Bruni are wonderful, and you will be able to enjoy them for years.(Yes, Bruni is Italian, but her french is perfect, her album is one of my all-time favorites, and the French love her.) Don't get DVD's unless you have a player that reads all zones--this is zone 2, the US is zone 1.
*Fashion Fashion is very important to the French, and you will find things to suit every taste. If you see something unique, that you love, in a window--go ahead and take a chance! Won't it be fun to tell people, "oh, yes, I bought this in Paris!" A fun thing to do if you have time is to head to a consignment store (dépot-vente) and buy a used designer item for much less. Reciproque has a whole store full of Hermès scarves, for less than half the retail value!
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Paris.