Haute Stuff: Nine Unique Gifts to Buy in Paris

Leave room in your suitcase for these irresistible items made by French artisans

Silk Flower

Call it the Great Paris Shopping Challenge. We scoured Paris for objects of beauty and character, made by French artisans and sold in attractive, well-stocked shops. You’ll notice we left our bargain-hunting instincts at home. Stores providing a less than cordial welcome didn't make the list.

This article is a selection from our new Smithsonian Journeys Travel Quarterly

In its inaugural issue, Smithsonian Journeys quarterly takes you to Paris for an intriguing look at the history and culture of the City of Lights. Stroll the streets and learn the surprising ways that past meets present through food, architecture, the arts, local customs and more.

Astier de Villatte Plate

Made from black terra-cotta clay, this handmade Astier de Villatte plate recalls an antique book’s marbled endpapers. The company’s ceramics, including its signature white pottery, meld Old World charm with a modern aesthetic.

173 Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris 75001. astierdevillatte.com

Handmade Wooden Puzzle

Michèle Wilson creates handmade wooden jigsaw puzzles both artful and challenging, some out of paintings by such artists as Van Gogh, Picasso, or Sonia Delaunay (above). The pieces don’t lock into place but rather flow together, which makes finishing a Wilson puzzle a maddening but fun experience.

97 Avenue Émile Zola, Paris 75015. puzzles-et-jeux.com

Le Bouffadou, Fire Tool

Ever heard of le bouffadou? Most people haven’t, but the rustic tool can prove quite handy. You point one end at the embers and blow into the other to keep a fire hot without burning your face.

Nature et Découvertes, 17 Rue de l’Arrivée, Paris 75015. natureetdecouvertes.com

Leather Gloves

French glovemaking dates back to medieval times, an exquisite tradition combining craftsmanship and style that makes for a striking accessory. Gérard Durant’s offers gloves in classic peccary (wild boar) leather in a rainbow of colors.

77 Rue du Bac, Paris 75007. accessoires-mode.com

Artisan Chocolate

Near the Place de la Bastille, your nose will lead you to Alain Ducasse’s chocolate factory. You can peer through large glass windows to watch the production. It’s impossible not to enter.

40 Rue de la Roquette, Paris 75011. lechocolat-alainducasse.com

Copper Pot

Paris is a mecca for copper cookware, favored by chefs for providing excellent conductivity (and thus even and precise temperatures). We particularly enjoyed the knowledgeable clerks at Atelier des Arts Culinaires, located in a shopping arcade along an old viaduct. Its pots are made in Normandy.

111 Avenue Daumesnil, Paris 75012. atelierartsculinaires.com

Umbrella

Rain doesn’t mean forsaking style at Parapluies Simon, a purveyor of fine umbrellas since 1897. A rich assortment of styles fits any mood from frilly to sophisticated. Most are manufactured in France, principally in the Aurillac region, and some brands, such as Piganiol, come with a lifetime guarantee.

56 Boulevard Saint-Michel, Paris 75006. parapluies-simon.com

Silk Flower

For 130 years Parisians have come to Legeron to find the perfect silk flower, feather boa, or other froufrou accessory. In the first floor of a building, it seems more atelier than shop.

20 Rue des Petits Champs, Paris 75002. legeron.com

Chartreuse

The Carthusian monks rely on 130 different plants, flowers, and herbs from Grenoble’s Chartreuse Mountains to concoct their famous bright green liquor. In Paris you can purchase Chartreuse at the Monastica along with many other goods produced by French nuns and monks.

10 Rue des Barres, Paris 75004. monastica-art-et-artisanat.com