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Paris Gift Guide: Cheapo gift ideas for everyone on your list

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Paris Gibert Jeune books
Find new and used books (in French) at Gibert Jeune at Place St-Michel. Photo: Gabrilu

By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—

If you’re playing Santa from Paris this year, you might be hard-pressed to find any elves to help you with your list. With overpriced Christmas markets and no sales until January, shopping for friends and family can be a daunting – not to mention costly – task.

So for each person on your list, be it the foodie or the hopeless lover of Paris, here are some suggestions for places to get inexpensive gifts.

Fashionista

The Marais has no shortage of vintage shops. Hop into the Vintage Désir on rue des Rosiers to rummage through the scarves, belts, or bags for under €10.  Other shops around the Centre Pompidou have all sorts of coats and accessories to explore with items as inexpensive as a few euros.  Mº St-Paul

Bon Marche Paris

Delicious gifts at Bon Marché's Grand Epicerie. Photo: Roboppy

Foodie

This might seem crazy, but for that special food connoisseur, head to Bon Marché’s Grand Epicerie, a veritable epicurean wonderland.  Normally people think everything in the store is overpriced, but there are cheapo options among the vast selection of locally-roasted coffees, condiments, hot chocolate, and holiday food if you look closely. No need for wrapping paper, either.  Just leave it in the shopping bag and you’ll be sure to impress. Mº Sèvres-Babylone

Inner child

Whimsical meets practical at Pylones, a design store that takes everyday items like ice cream scoops and dust pans and turns them into funky works of art. Take time to explore the whole store since every inch of counter space is filled with plenty of quirky and unique items. Bigger items can be a bit expensive, but most smaller items will still make you smile without spending too much. Check here for locations

Sweet tooth

For that insatiable sweet tooth, skip the chocolates and macarons and head to Epices Roellinger in the 2nd arrondissement.  The metal boxes of salted-butter caramels are only €5 and delicious.  Browse the shop’s spices and vanilla beans in case your sugar fiend likes to cook, too. 51 bis, rue Sainte Anne 75002

Paris Fragonard shop

The Fragonard shop on rue du Mont Thabor. Photo: House of Hall

French fan

For that Francophile friend that has every possible Parisian item, check out one of the Fragonard shops for something unique but quintessentially French.  Perfumes, soaps, aprons, pillow cases, candles – they’ve got it all.  Consider the mini eau de toilette samples for guys and gals. It’ll cost less than Dior and it’s harder to find in the US. Check here for locations

Intellectual

For true intellectuals or that friend that adheres religious to geek chic, you can’t go wrong with an old fashioned paper book. Gibert Jeune by Place St-Michel has an amazing selection of travel and photo books that anyone will appreciate – even if they are in French. Used books and discount books are available throughout the store, so make sure you hit each floor. Mº St-Michel

Homebody

For someone who likes to stay home or just likes a well-decorated house, try Potiron for inexpensive but adorable home furnishings. Fun glassware, espresso sets, flatware, candles, and decorative boxes can all be bought for very reasonable prices. It’s like a Parisian version of Ikea with much cuter shopping bags. 57, rue des Petits Champs 75001

Can’t buy em anything?

If you have one of those friends who just can’t be bought for, fear not. The flea markets are a delightful alternative for inexpensive gifts from army surplus to decorative boxes and glassware. The weekend market at St-Ouen in the north of Paris is one of the biggest in Europe and is definitely worth a few hours of wandering. Even if they don’t appreciate the gift, you’ll have a great story to tell. Mº Porte de Clignancourt

Give us your suggestions

Who did I leave out, Cheapos? What other gifts can we get without going broke this holiday season? Tell us in our comments section.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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2 Responses to “Paris Gift Guide: Cheapo gift ideas for everyone on your list”

Wonderful list. Fragonard and Pylones are always on my list of places to shop when I need to bring someone a cute, colorful gift. I also love Mariage Freres for gifts of all sorts of teas and accessories, LaDurée for small boxes of macarons that travel well and I can’t forget the Paris dime stores like Joker or Paris Affaires where you can often pick up cheap home decor items like Sia picture frames or serving trays; they usually always have a small toy section too where you’ll find inexpensive things for the kids on your list!

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