5 Things You Can Only Buy in Paris
I remember the first time I visited Europe. I was so excited to find all of the unique items not native to my own country that I could gather and take home with me. To this day I am still fascinated by all of the items that travelers to Paris can acquire once in the city that they simply cannot get elsewhere.
To make myself clear, I’m not referring to the Eiffel Tower keychains or mass produced, felt berets that line the souvenir stores as you roam the streets. While these may be solely relevant to Paris, they are not only available in the French capital.
I’m talking about the good that one can only acquire by making the physical, present trip into the city of love. By walking the streets, staying in one of the arrondissements and becoming accustomed to how things work around the town.
It’s these little comforts that make ones trip so worthwhile. Whether its your first time in Paris, or you have returned to restock on some unique items — welcome! Here are five things you can only buy in Paris… no where else!
1. Bouquins of Paris
Also known as the Bouquinistes, the Bouquins are the booksellers who set up shop on the banks of the Seine on both he right and left banks. They specialize in the selling of large collections or rare and antique books that you simply can’t find in mainstream bookstores any longer.
On the right side of the Seine you’ll find them between the Pont Marie and the Quai du Louvre. On the left, between the Quai de la Tournelle and Quai Voltaire.
An old Parisian saying refers to the Seine as the river that runs between two bookshelves. There is something really calming and quite alluring about shopping for books out in the open air.
If you’ve already visited a part of the Seine, you’ll know that the banks have a strong sense of community with or without the presence of the Bouquins. This is where the people of Paris gather to laze about, enjoy a book of their own, reconnect with a friend or even indulge in the art of picnic.
If you’d prefer to wander through the Bouquins in a group then there are many free guided walking tours available that will take you past the banks.
2. Thïonade in Paris
Of all the culinary wonders to have come out of Paris, Thïonade is probably the one we should be most grateful for.
Thïonade is a blend of fine olives, tomatoes and garlic into a paste that is a feast for the senses. Best paired with a fresh baguette or crackers and cheese, Thïonade is like an artisanal treat for the evolved palette.
There are no preservatives, colorants or artificial flavors used in the making of this paste. It is one of the most natural products to come out of Paris and is usually produced by hand in the region of Provence.
Once in Paris, however, you’ll only be able to purchase Thïonade in the 11th arrondissement. Artisanal-style shopping is celebrated in this part of town with small street markets and confectionary stores on every corner.
3. Angelina Chocolate in Paris
Angelina is a renowned tea and chocolate parlor in Paris. It was founded back in 1903 by a man named Antoine Rumpelmayer who named the store after his beloved daughter-in-law.
The parlor quickly became the “it” place to be and be seen. All of the hippest people hung out at Angelina’s; and it was not unlikely to bump into the likes of Coco Chanel while buying your chocolate fix. The fashion mogul was a regular at the store.
There are now a number of Angelina branches in Paris due to popular demand. My favorite, and the most popular one, is on 226 Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement.
Expect to queue at the best of times. Everyone wants to get their dose of Angelina chocolate to take home with them as proof of their trip to the big city.
4. Boîte Gourmande de Paris in Paris
The biscuits that have taken Parisian tourism by storm. All through the city you’ll find the various options of the boîte gourmande de Paris.
Each colorful tin is decorated with a significant Parisian landmark of your choice. The Eiffel Tower is reported to be the best seller and makes for a wonderful gift to give to a loved one back home in memory of your trip.
Inside the creative tin are the gourmet biscuits made right here in Paris. The best part? The tins of the treats are entirely reusable and can be used for years to come to store other treats or whatever the user can think of.
5. Home-Made Perfume in Paris
Back in the fashion district of Le Marais, home-made perfumes are a budding industry.
Travelers to Paris are quickly roped into the perfume making world by many of the vendors that perfect this craft by day. You’ll be invited inside one of the many perfume studios around the city and encouraged to take part in the creation of your own unique perfume.
It’s a lot of fun and a great momento to take home with you — even if you never actually wear your creation!
Not many people can say that they got to travel to the capital of France and create their own unique perfume while they were there! What’s more, you’ll be doing it in the heart of Paris; Le Marais is one of the most vibrant parts of town and this is just one factor of the many things to do in this area (Read more about Discover walking tours).
There you have it. Five things you can buy only in Paris. From Coco Chanel’s chocolate preference right through to home-made Thïonade, what more do you need?