Paris Shopping: Your Insider Guide to the Best Local Artisans
Bestselling author and Paris resident Lindsey Tramuta says that for a time, Paris had become prisoner to its own grand history. While chefs and artists in other countries innovated, Paris rested on its laurels, serving up mediocre food and experiences to tourists seeking a cliche. In her book, The New Paris, Lindsey profiles the rising creative class in Paris that’s rejecting complacency, focusing on quality, and reviving traditions to make the city a more open place.
“For me, the 'new Paris' is also this open arms curiosity and acceptance of other ideas, other influences," she says. "It not being treated as though it’s going to somehow endanger the Parisian lifestyle or the Parisian identity.”
We discuss the rise of the creative class and Lindsey’s favorite artisans in the Postcard Academy podcast (subscribe). Here are highlights from our conversation on where to find unique, local gifts that make the perfect souvenir to remember the City of Love.
Handbags and jewelry. Lindsey loves the handmade bags at Fauvette. The designer, Claire, has a workshop in a store called Atelier Couronnes that she shares with jewelry designer Louise Damas. “I have her jewelry, too. I tend to gravitate toward — especially for accessories — people like that who are really talented, who I want to support more than the big guys.”
Ceramics. Alix Reynis makes beautiful dishware and also jewelry. “It feels like, ‘This is something I’m going to get here and nowhere else.’ Astier de Villatte is far more well-known and far more expensive in terms of the porcelain and ceramic work. But again, they too revived an old trade.”
Clothes and shoes. Chains and mega brands like Dior and Channel aren’t your only options if you want to buy from a French designer. “I really love Sézane, and the designer herself, Morgane.” More classic then trendy, the mostly online shop has a permanent collection, and also limited-edition monthly specials. You can try on the clothes in-person at the showroom space L’Appartement Sézane in Paris, and the new L’Appartement New York in Nolita.
If you want to splash more cash? “I’m a big fan of Kitsune, but it’s very expensive, so I really only ever buy anything if it’s on sale, and significantly on sale.” For sneakers, Lindsey likes Veja. “It’s all very sustainably and ecologically produced.” As for bigger brands, for everyday basics: “I like Comptoir des Cotonniers for sophisticated, well-made blouses, pants, jackets, that kind of thing.”
Stationery. Lindsey says the French don’t send greeting cards like Americans, so when they do send a handwritten note, it’s very meaningful. Papier Tigre and Letterpress de Paris stationery and cards are made in traditional ways. “The Letterpress brand is all printed in-house. They had to get special machinery — the trade itself was dying out and he’s one of the people who have been reviving it. They do special collaborations with French designers, and have different designers work on different sets of cards. They’re all signed by the designers, so you know you’re getting something really original. It’s just beautiful.”
Sweet treats. Fou de Patisserie is a concept store, meaning that under one roof you have a variety of different desserts, pastries, and chocolates from chefs across the city. “So, rather than having to go to all of them, you’ve got a pretty robust sampling in one place. I also really love Bontemps and it’s sablé cookies, which are filled with a variety of different creams, ganache, other beautiful things.”
“All of these traditions need to stay alive, and so having these small ateliers, or workshops, some of which you can actually visit and they double as boutiques. It’s great, because you see the person there, or at least you know that everything in there has been handmade and is unique.”
If you found this article useful, please share it, and subscribe to the Postcard Academy podcast. Each week, expats and adventurers share their insider travel tips on the best food, nightlife, and cultural experiences in the most interesting places around the globe. I’m your host, Sarah Mikutel, an American who's spent the last 7 years living in, and traveling around, Europe.