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Best Paris Christmas and Holiday Shopping Destinations

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Looking to bring back that special gift from Paris for the holiday season? Several Parisian boutiques and department stores are excellent choices for Christmas and holiday shopping-- whether you're hunting for gourmet goodies, clothes, jewelry, books, or decorative items. And if you can make it to one of the temporary Christmas markets, you're even more likely to find a memorable and authentic gift or holiday souvenir. Once you've browsed this list, make sure to check out our complete guide to choosing an authentic (and non-cliche) gift from Paris.

1. Paris Christmas Markets

©2006 Cyrill G. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

You know the holidays have arrived in Paris when little wooden chalets start going up around town. The city's ephemeral Christmas markets-- created in the tradition of those found in the Northeastern region of Alsace, which is historically both German and French, bring a special warmth and provide great gifts. Head here to find regional specialties from Alsace like pain d'épices (spice bread) and mulled wine, in addition to gourmet treats from other regions and traditional Christmas decorations, toys, and cozy hand-made knits.

For 2012-2013 locations: Guide to Paris Christmas Markets

2. Traditional Paris Department Stores

©2006 Denis Paris. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.

The city's historical department stores are not just shopping shrines, but architectural treasures and peddlers of plenty of exclusive clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, home furnishing, and gourmet items-- making them ideal stops for holiday shopping if you can withstand the crowds. If you're looking for a gifts for a foodie or wine lover, be sure to check out the massive gourmet groceries at Galeries Lafayette and Au Bon Marché. While you're at it, enjoy the always-colorful and creative holiday window displays at Paris department stores.

3. Paris Boutiques and Concept Stores

Paris counts an inordinate number of trendy boutiques and concept stes. Ultra-trendy boutique Colette in particular draws crowds and celebrities for its constantly updated selection of the latest concepts in electronics, fashion, accessories, beauty products, and other items, and also boasts an extensive and edgy collection of new releases in books, DVDs, and music. Try here to find the perfect gift for a hipster or fashionista. After shopping, you can sit around looking fashionable and aloof at the downstairs "water bar".

Read More: Top Paris Boutiques and Concept Stores

4. Best Perfume Shops in Paris

Courtesy of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
Paris is the world center of luxury and bespoke fragrance, and artisan creators from Serge Lutens to Frederic Malle have shops here. You can also find flagship stores from big-name luxury brands like Guerlain and Jo Malone, where it's often possible to find limited edition scents you can't find elsewhere.

5. Best Paris Chocolate Shops

©2008 Quinn Annya. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

Paris is one of the world's chocolate capitals, so if you know a cocoa connoisseur, be sure to stop by one of the city's best chocolate shops to take back a special gift. Also see our video on some of Paris' most talented chocolate makers.

6. Top Paris Bookshops

Shakespeare and Company in Paris.
Jnkypt/Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.
Paris counts dozens of bookshops, some traditional, some branches of big chains. Peruse this list of the very best to find that perfect book for a bibliophile friend or loved one.

7. Paris Outdoor Booksellers

©2008 Gareth Wright. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

Looking for a rare book or magazine for a bibliophile friend or family member? Paris has tons of old bookstores, especially in the Latin Quarter around the old university district. But when the sun's out, why not peruse the city's Seine-side booksellers? Paris boasts over 200 independent outdoor stalls, offering some 300,000 collectable, new and used books and magazines under open skies.

Also See:

8. Les Créateurs des Abbesses (Montmartre Artisan Boutiques)

Clustered along a few small streets in the quaint Montmartre neighborhood are a series of artisanal boutiques offering unique clothing, jewelry, decorative items, and more. It's a good alternative to overcrowded department stores and a long shot from chain stores where multinational brands reign (thus guaranteeing unoriginal gifts).

Getting there: Metro Abbesses, Pigalle
Main streets (bring a city map): Rue Houdon, Rue d'Orsel, Rue des Martyrs, Rue des Abbesses, Rue Yvonne-Le-Tac.

See these neighborhood guides to find more unique artisan shops around Paris:

Related Video
Paris' Best Chocolate Shops

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