Gift ideas from paris?
June 23, 2010 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Paris for the week. My fiancee is not here with me, but I'd love to wow her with a great gift when I get back. What should I get her?

My budget isn't amazingly high, but I could swing 50-100 euro for a really nice gift. Bonus points for specific ideas, and mega super bonus points if you can tell me where to get the gift in question. Thanks!
posted by captainawesome to Shopping (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What's she into?
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:01 AM on June 23, 2010

Can you tell us a little bit about her? Does she love fashion? Food? Jewelery? Would she like something just because it's from Paris, or does the gift itself matter most?
posted by insectosaurus at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2010

Fauchon. Go and have a look, its stunning stuff. But you'll have to choose well and be careful taking it home.
posted by fire&wings at 9:04 AM on June 23, 2010

Response by poster: She's fashionable, but I'm pretty tone-deaf to fashion - so I've got limited faith my ability to get her something she'd love. Same with jewelry, I guess. I know her sense of style is pretty simple/classic (I've heard other women say this) but hell if I know how to translate that into actual stuff.

She likes food but I wouldn't call her a foodie, and she's diabetic so things like chocolate aren't a slam dunk. I guess I'm looking for something that she couldn't (or wouldn't) get anywhere else, but something she'd like a lot on its own... which knocks out crap like Eiffel tower keychains.
posted by captainawesome at 9:10 AM on June 23, 2010

Buy her a classic Longchamp bag. Although they're available in the US, they're a lot cheaper in Europe. It's classic and she'll keep it forever.
posted by samthemander at 9:15 AM on June 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

An antique (or just old) book with illustrations on a topic in which she is interested. Illustrations are key if she doesn't speak any French. Or a beautiful old print of something French like an old travel advertisement.
Or a fancy day planner/diary/notebook
A really nice scarf or wrap in a pretty color.
If she is a coffee drinker how about a set of cafe au lait cups? I like gifts that I will use a lot like a scarf I can wear all winter or a tea cup or coffee mug I use every morning. That way I can think about the giver every time I use it.

Also, I clearly love paper and printed material which might not be appropriate in this situation!
posted by rachums at 9:21 AM on June 23, 2010

If you know her size, beautiful French underwear--camisole or nighty so that there's some leeway. I think you could find someone to help you at Bon Marché in the 7th arr. They have two concierges who can direct you to an English-speaking salesperson. It's gonna use up your 100 euros. Do keep in mind that French women are tiny, so a French small is going to be too small for an American who wears small. Look up the equivalents in a guidebook or online.
posted by Elsie at 9:22 AM on June 23, 2010

How about a key chain or something else small from from Chanel headquarters, 31 Rue Cambon? That's probably still up towards the top of your budget, but they'll give you little samples and other things as well, and a nicely prepared bag etc. The ladies there can help you pick something classic and within your budget. They also have exclusive scents there, but I don't know if you'd be up for buying her perfume without her input.

Bonus: I'm pretty sure you can get the tax back on your purchase, they'll give you a form and you bring it with you to the airport to get stamped when you leave the EU. I bought a scarf for my birthday at Chanel HQ in 2007 and they did this.
posted by lizbunny at 9:24 AM on June 23, 2010

The Flea Market (Les Puces) as well as used book and antique stores might be a strategy: An old poster or map you have framed upon your return; a french cookbook or favorite work of literature; an antique piece of jewelry or watch.
posted by xod at 9:29 AM on June 23, 2010

I don't know your wife.

But, I do know my wife and I know she would appreciate a beautiful notebook from one of the shops on Rue de Point Louis-Phillipe or one of the latest teas from Mariage Freres (also in the same area) such as Summer Snow which is I think about 35 euros a bottle.
posted by vacapinta at 9:34 AM on June 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oops. I meant your fiancee of course!
posted by vacapinta at 9:39 AM on June 23, 2010

you should buy her jewelry from a small place, preferably something local, and then tell them you want it packages so it looks like she's getting an eiffel tower paperweight.
posted by parmanparman at 9:40 AM on June 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Good mustard.
posted by quodlibet at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2010

Ohhh, go to Hermes and get her a classic scarf or watch. Please post a photo of whatever you choose...I'm jealous.
posted by victoriab at 10:13 AM on June 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oops, I think I just ruined your budget...nevermind :) Disregard the watch suggestion but the scarf might still be a go.
posted by victoriab at 10:17 AM on June 23, 2010

Beautiful leather gloves, or a smart leather wallet would be a wonderful gift. I bought a pair of gloves at Harrods during my first trip to London over ten years ago and i still love them. Try the Galeries Lafayette - the ground flour has accessories and you should be able to find something lovely.

(If you need more help with the gloves, i'd suggest a simple tan or black leather pair, about wrist-length, very soft leather, ideally with a silk or cashmere lining. )
posted by ukdanae at 10:25 AM on June 23, 2010

This might be slightly out of left field but get her a model Eiffel Tower like the one at 1'39" here. Then watch the film itself (The Lavender Hill Mob) together. Or watch the film first and then give it to her.

Not sure about anyone else but this appeals to my sense of fun...
posted by i_cola at 10:29 AM on June 23, 2010

You can only get the VAT refunded if you spend at least €175, on the same day, in the same store. If you do plan to do this, the easiest way to get your VAT back is to shop at one of the larger department stores (Bon Marché, Galeries Lafayette, BHV, etc.) and talk to a concierge who can guide you through the process.
posted by tractorfeed at 10:45 AM on June 23, 2010

I like Satellite which has pretty jewelry. There used to be a SOHO store as well but now it is exclusively paris & japan.

And fois gras, cheese, or french macarons are always a good gift.
posted by countrymod at 10:47 AM on June 23, 2010

I would check out The Chocolate and Zucchini posts tagged "Paris City Guide" for some ideas. There are posts on food mostly but also links to housewares shops.

Since you're getting married, why not buy a few French bridal magazines at the magazine stand? They have the advantage of taking up very little room in your suitcase. (you could probably buy them at the airport on the way out too.)
posted by vespabelle at 10:55 AM on June 23, 2010

If I had an SO in Paris, I'd want to be there more than a souvenir. If you have a video recorder of some kind, walk around narrating for her so she knows you miss her. Maybe record yourself buying whatever gift you end up choosing for her. If you can't record, maybe make a special photo stream for her?
posted by motsque at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2010

What about perfume? I'd want a bottle of Philosykos from Diptyque. I also love the idea of French bridal magazines. Even if she isn't the type that's into American bridal magazines, I think that would be thoughtful and sweet, and she'd be daydreaming of your future together as she flipped through them.
posted by CheeseLouise at 12:30 PM on June 23, 2010

I am voting for perfume too. I am in love with the Creed perfumes. It is special to get a wonderful French perfume from the source. Here's their information:

Fabienne Creed Diffusion
38 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie
75008 Paris, France
01 47 20 58 02‎3

Mon 9am – 6pm
Tue 9am – 6pm
Wed 9am – 6pm
Thu 9am – 6pm
Fri 9am – 6pm
Sat 9am – 6pm
Sun Closed

Transit: Alma - Marce
posted by bearwife at 12:51 PM on June 23, 2010

And if you want to know what the store looks like: someone actually posted a You Tube video of visiting it.
posted by bearwife at 12:54 PM on June 23, 2010

Go to La Tuile à Loup, located at 35 Rue Daubenton. It's just off the Censier - Daubenton Metro stop (and it's in the middle of a really nice little neighborhood chock full of neat shops). The shop has specialized in French folk art since 1975, the handmade stuff you can only find locally. The shop is really amazing, the owner is a really cool guy (he actually is a former custom er - he purchased the shop from the original owners rather than see it close when they retired), and if you don't find something there that you love, then you are simply dead inside and there's no saving you.

I found the shop completely by accident. I left with a Nontron knife and an olive wood cutting board to bring home to my wife, and a similar pair for my parents. I also picked up a small ceramic figurine for my aunt, who I knew would just love it. My friend very nearly dropped a large pile of euros on some amazing antique linens. We must have gone into the shop at least 3 to 4 times over the course of the week we were there. Everything on hand is unique. Everything is locally produced, most from small producers and craftsmen. There's really no better place to go to find something you won't be able to get anywhere else.

Prices ranged from really reasonable to really expensive, but there's definitely something there you can afford without going broke. All my shopping was done on a grad student budget and I still am really happy with my purchases.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:53 PM on June 23, 2010

As an extra little treat, buy a croissant in the airport before you leave and give it to her upon arrival. You'll have to be careful to not crush it, but I can tell you my BF was totally tickled at the idea that he was eating a (slightly worse for wear) croissant that was in Paris that very morning.
posted by Windigo at 1:53 PM on June 24, 2010

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