sooo, a dream of mine is to eventually create an interactive map-slash-travel guide of paris, my most favorite city in the world. but that’s gonna take like, at least one engineer and a lot of planning. I wanted to give you something useful a little sooner. cool?
I’ll get to updating a new and improved travel post on my recent adventure to the ever enchanting city of light, but I wanted to share what is essentially my “souvenir guide” first — the experience of paris and the memories you take home are a treasure in themselves, but there are so many treats and trinkets I absolutely adore bringing back to the states. it helps mitigate the fomo/crippling anguish I experience daily knowing that I don’t live in paris. anyway, I’m fine.
so yes, I’m one of those basic, basic girls who fell in love with paris a long time ago and loves speaking french and listening to french music and using french skincare and eating little french treats and omg I need psychiatric help ANYWAY… (calling my therapist rn)
paris is obviously a dream for anyone who loves shopping, and I think you’ll find some of the best souvenirs of your traveling life in this magical city. I have some seriously incredible items you need add to your list stat and pick up on your next trip to beautiful france. there are a few splurges, many bargains, and all fabulous trésors to remember your trip.
de la pharmacie: skincare
the first and most heavily emphasized category: pharmacie skincare! the tiny little pharmacies all over the city with the neon green medical crosses? you’re gonna want to pop into all of ’em. drugstore skin care products in france are akin to our high end, department store/sephora stuff. sometimes they’re one in the same.
for example, my favorite caudalie serum? 80 bucks at nordstrom and sephora. 30-40 euros at “une pharmacie parisienne.” seriously. (ps, you can get it at selfridge’s online for $50 rn if you can’t make it to france).
aside from getting the entire caudalie line for about half off, you can get french brands you might not find here at home. my favorite? avene.
while in paris, I picked up avene antirougeurs cleanser, antirougeurs masque, micellar water, extremely gentle cleanser lotion, and cold cream lip balm, all for half (or less!) the price you’d pay here. the antirougeurs (anti-redness) collection is honestly miraculous. it’s $35 online but like $12 in the pharmacies. for real.
and of course, everyone’s die-hard favorite french skincare hero: embryolisse lait-crème concentré. this silky moisturizer became a cult favorite thanks to beauty editors/vogue/makeup artists using it on models during fashion week. you can now get it in the US, but (as you probably guessed), it’s typically cheaper in pairs. just don’t get it near champs-elysees, they’ll charge you tourist prices which will total out to more than what you’d pay on amazon or dermstore.
sweet treats / des gâteries
I wish I could eat in paris every week. as someone with not just a sweet tooth but apparently an entire mouth composed of sweet teeth, I’m essentially in heaven between ladurée, mariage frères, pierre hermé, angelina, and berthillon.
my two favorite desserts in the universe have to be the ice creams/sorbets from berthillon, and the religieuse pastry from ladurée. if I could pick the flavor, the rose-fraise or rose-framboise, though I’m certain if ladurée ever made a religieuse passion-mangue I’d keel over and die from overexcitement and unbridled joy.
since I can’t take either the religieuse nor the glaces home with me, I had to improvise. a few favs:
- concentrated drinking chocolate from angelina. the deliciously decadent, lusciously indulgent chocolat chaud marie antoinette used to sip on is still being served at angelina locations around paris and versailles. you can bring home a concentrated bottle (it’s glass, so be careful!) and bring a little of this sweetness back to the states. if you’ve got less space or luggage weight restrictions, they’ve got chocolate bars that are insanely good.
- tea from ladurée, angelina, and mariage frères. specifically, the ladurée house blend and jardin bleu royal and angelina’s montblanc tea (my bff olivia got that for me on her recent trip and I wept). dry, compact tea is super travel friendly — it won’t crush or expire en route.
- macarons from ladurée. if I’m flying back directly from france, these are always a fantastic option. the french locations tend to have a wider flavor assortment than the LA locations (at least in my experience). they make a beautiful souvenir for friends, too! especially because of those colorful boxes. just so damn elegant.
- mariage frères marco polo jelly. this is an odd one, and you’re going to have to trust me, because it’s absolutely miraculous. I first tried this with clotted cream and scones at claridge’s in london. the french tea house created this marvelously unique jelly from their tropical fruit tea, which is called marco polo. londoner’s are apparently v into it, and mariage frères sells it for roughly 8 euros at the parisian locations. it is so damn good I’ve already been through a jar of it since I’ve been back.
if you want to browse a couple of these + the skincare stuff, I made a “french favs” storefront on amazon so you can check it all out in one place.
y’all already know that scent is an exceptionally powerful memory trigger, and honestly, I love a good scented souvenir. when I was in valladolid mexico, I brought back a “flor de mayo” room spray from coqui coqui; from maui a mango scented lotion from wailea; and when I’m in london I love grabbing a perfumed molton brown hand soap. I like things that smell nice, you know?
the past two times I’ve been to paris I’ve come home with a luxe new fragrance that makes me feel like a goddess. plus, if you spend over €175, you get the vat tax refund. awww yeah.
this past trip I tried louis vuitton’s attrape-rêves for the first time, and was smitten upon first whiff at the lv mothership on champs-elysées. the trip before this, I fell in love with chanel’s gabrielle at the rue cambon home base. each time I smell these perfumes, I’m instantaneously transported to the time and place I first experienced it — paris. pretty rad!
of course, you’ll have to try diptyque and le labo while you’re in town. two french powerhouses that create exquisite perfumes and eau de toilette. all about a good diptyque candle, you know? you’ll save roughly 10-15% by getting one in france vs the us.
à la mode: french high fashion finds
ok so it’s not a huge secret that buying french products in france saves you money — you get it. I don’t want to keep beating this topic to death *but* before this last trip I wondered how much you could save, and if it was actually worth it. the answer was a MEGA yes, but it took a little extra work on my end (vat tax refund paperwork, customs, etc).
look… I don’t like talking about how much I spend on things because it immediately opens you up to judgement; people always like to project and make assumptions about financial status, pass judgement on how you spend money, etc. you’ve done it, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it. from the “don’t give that homeless guy money, he’s just gonna spend it on drugs” to the “my friend says they can’t afford to split a gift for our other friend, but they spent $400 on drinks the other night” to “maybe if she didn’t shop so often she wouldn’t have so much credit card debt” to “wow I didn’t know they were so well off, maybe they should’ve donated that money to charity instead of getting a flashy car.” we’ve all been there, truly. but here we are. OH WELL!
when it comes to this example, I thought it would be helpful for anyone like me who was trying to calculate things ahead of time, but found nothing because no one on the internet wanted to be transparent about how much things cost. so like, I guess I’m opening myself up to judgment but I’M WILLING 2 MAKE THAT SACRIFICE 4 U. may you relish in the savings provided by this intimate financial divulsion.
a bit of a back story: you might know that I’ve wanted a louis vuitton neverfull gm tote — damier azur print with ballerina pink interior — for quite some time. by quite some time I mean YEARS. I have a hard time spending large chunks of money on myself. it feels wrong. anyway, that’s a topic for my psychiatrist and not for today!
these bags retain their value (one from 10 years ago in excellent condition could be sold at nearly equal value to its original list price), and they’re ideal for traveling… it’s been #1 on my luggage wish list for forever. so I decided that this would be the year I’d do it, and if I was going to do it, I’d get one at the lv mothership. so I did!
getting one of these in the US will cost you $1400 + tax, so depending on your region, up to roughly $1540. in paris, the price is €1040, so roughly $1140. off the bat, that’s a $400 savings. and then comes the tax refund! my tax refund ended up being $126, so I saved over five hundred dollars by getting the bag abroad. louis doesn’t do sales, so this 33% off is a p big deal. as far as I’ve seen, lv has some of the best savings from buying in france vs anywhere else.
if this bag or another french designer bag has been on your radar and you’re thinking of making the leap, this is absolutely the way to do it. plus the experience of getting your bag in paris makes it even more special, obviously! lv monogrammed my bag while I was there, and I know I’ll have this treasured piece for decades and decades to come.
ok onto the next treasure: vintage designer baubles! bff olivia at it again with the french intel, she directed me to the paris flea market in saint ouen, and I was not disappointed. after wandering around the little boutiques that carried vintage lv bags and hermès scarves, I popped into the boutique that spoke to my soul — and found vintage chanel clip on earrings (almost all the vintage ones are clip ons!). the brilliant, deep gold and interlock design make them a stunningly elegant classic, and I couldn’t say no. or non. it was all oui from there on out.
get this: similar styles can run upwards of $1,000. I found almost identical style new ones on fashionphile (a set of two) for $1,300. here they are — scuffed! — for over $800. $600 on another site. mine were €200. seriously. GO. TO. THE. FLEA MARKET!
something to keep in mind with vintage purchases: you do not get a vat tax refund on these! only for new goods. so while you’ll find exceptionally good bargains on luxury treasures of days past, you’re not gettin’ the tax break on these bad boys.
ready to wear / prêt à porter
ok so let’s say you’re not ready to throw down on an exorbitantly priced leather handbag or vintage designer accessories. das cool! still like shopping? great.
my favorite french-girl fashions are from rouje and realisation par, but they’re both online only. a similar paris label is sézane, and they’ve got a seriously cute boutique called “l’appartement sézane” in the second arrondissement. if you’re already familiar with the brand, it’s an awesome experience to go immerse yourself in their home base; if you’re not already acquainted, it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know modern parisian style. they’ve got beautiful dresses in different prints and silhouettes that are effortlessly elegant and, yes, très chic.
another gem that I found while perusing the shops of saint-germain-des-prés on rue saint-sulpice (ok TECHNICALLY this side is the odeon quarter, but you get it): curling. this french label is much more under the radar, but they make some really pretty pieces. I opted for a red floral wrap dress that I ended up wearing to positano the next week.
there are multiple curling locations in paris, including one on rue saint dominique (great street name btw). plus everything is made in france! I thought that was pretty sweet.
and I didn’t make it there on this last trip, but if you’re down for even more shopping, maje and sandro are both gorgeous french brands which are much cheaper in paris than they are in america. so def add those to your list!
there are obviously a zillion more things you can bring home from paris, but I’ll leave it here for now (will prob update later, tbh). I feel like this was a lot. yeah? oui. ok. let’s call it, but I’ll be back like… next week? yeah. next week with more travel loveliness and lots of pretty parisian photos. sound cool? très cool. ouais. I need to go to bed.