WHEN SHOPS TRANSFORM INTO ‘CONCEPT’ STORES

A small Parisian fashion studio that concentrates on handwork embellishment. Photo, s6056.pcdn

Paris has long been famous as a world capital of fashion and design, but it is also a city with a wealth of exciting design concept stores bursting with products unique to France.  It’s a country and a society with a history of commitment to artisan craft skills, a deep appreciation of the handmade object, innovative use of natural materials and the creative expression of the individual artist or designer.

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RUE MOUFFETARD – A PARIS STREET PAVED WITH HISTORY

There are many delightful cafes in rue Mouffetard. Photo, Paris + Plus

Around every corner of Paris you will find streets full of history.  The secret to discovering the real Paris is to detour off the grand boulevards, famous squares and enticing shopping streets.  If you delight in discovering special places, little nooks and crannies, narrow, ancient, pedestrianised streets beloved by locals but unknown to most visitors—the rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter of the 5th arrondissement is for you.

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DISCOVER THE RICHES OF THE MARCHÉ AUX PUCES, PARIS

Marche Paul Bert. Photo, brocabrac

To call the Marché aux Puces in Paris a “flea market” is an understatement.  Regarded as the largest market of its kind in the world and with around 180,000-200,000 visitors each weekend, at first sight its sheer size can be a very daunting prospect.  It is in fact a whole series of markets, segmented according to category and price level, ranging from vendors selling museum-quality pieces (at museum prices!), to sought-after collectables, through to inexpensive household bric-a-brac items.  Paris has a couple of smaller, lesser-known markets, but if you want to see the biggest and best, the Marché aux Puces Clignancourt-Saint-Ouen is where to go.  It’s a great experience—and you just may find that special something you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it there!

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FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD – HOW TO SHOP AND EAT LIKE A LOCAL IN PARIS

Said to be the oldest patisserie in Paris, Stohrer is in rue Montorgueil. Photo, frommers

Paris is Europe’s most densely populated city, and offers a mind-boggling array of food offers.  There are even local Parisian products available, if you know where to look.  One of the great advantages of renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel is that you can explore so many wonderful culinary treats from almost any district in which you find yourself on your daily excursions.  However, no matter where you stay, it’s easy to put together a picnic of goodies from your neighbourhood to enjoy in one of the many parks or down by the Seine on a warm evening.

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ALL DRESSED UP FOR CHRISTMAS!

Printemps Dept. store on Bvd. Haussmann. Photo, hoteletatsunis

France is famous for its illuminations during the festive season.  Despite the huge drop in numbers of visitors, and almost in defiance of the difficulties faced by everyone during this extraordinary year, Paris in particular is dressed with its usual impressive lighting displays to celebrate the holiday season.

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