France — Shopping and Leisure
For fashion, food, wines, traditional souvenirs, and little luxuries such as antiques and art, France is a shopaholic’s dream. Paris is one of the world’s most exciting shopping cities, with temptation at every turn. The world-famous Champs Elysees, back street boutiques offering the unique French fashions, and the city’s huge flea markets draw millions for the shopping spree of a lifetime. In the markets, bargaining is de rigeur (customary), but for reductions on items in the stores, it’s best to come during sale times.
For France’s haute couture at high-end prices, head for the city’s 8th arrondissement, and browse Canal St Martin boutiques. Le Marais is great for inexpensive yet stylish fashion and, for vintage clothes and artworks, Saint Germain des Pres is where it’s at. The most famous of Paris’s markets is Clignancourt Flea Market, crammed with antiques, retro fashion, second-hand goods, art and crafts. A visit to Rue de Rome will reveal a whole street of shops selling diverse musical instruments.
For genuine souvenirs, look for products of the French potteries, many of which have been working for several centuries. Sevres and Limoges porcelain graced the homes of royalty in the 18th century and the rustic slip-glazed Rouen, Palissy, and Quimper ‘faience’ wares are as popular today as they were in the 19th century and earlier. Lace and tapestries are part of France’s heritage and make attractive decorations in any home. France’s delicatessens and fresh produce markets offer culinary treats of all kinds, including a huge variety of regional cheeses, wines and macrons popular.