Stretching for two kilometers (one mile) and lined with trees, les Champs-Élysées has become the center for festivities and official parades in Paris. The avenue was originally created in 1667 by André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV's gardener, in order to improve the view from the Jardin des Tuileries and its palace. The avenue was lengthened at the end of the 18th Century to run from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Today, this famous boulevard is a magnet for tourists and for the multitudes who enjoy evenings spent strolling along the broad and picturesque street. The many cinemas, cafés, and restaurants tempt visitors to rest their legs for a few hours, tired from walking by the designer boutiques, banks, and embassies also situated in this chic neighborhood.
The world's biggest flea market welcomes 200,000 visitors each weekend. You name it and this place will have it: furniture, pictures, new and second-hand clothes, all at rock-bottom prices (especially if you're a dab hand at haggling). There's a jovial fairground atmosphere with the aroma of food wafting around and people crowding round the stalls, hoping to pick up a 1970s leather jacket or a rare Louis XV chest of drawers. Make sure you have cash on you, as stallholders seldom accept credit cards and the nearest available cash machine is always lined out.
With baking in his genes and a lifetime of experience, it's no surprise that Pierre Hermé's eponymous venture has won him many accolades. From French Pastry Chef Of The Year to Presidential honors, the patisserie is at the forefront of 21st Century pastry making. He is most famous for his colorful macarons, which must be tried when in the city. Cakes, cookies, candied dried fruits and other sweets are sold in inventive flavors like balsamic vinegar, olives and cheese. A designer of all things sweet, indulge in his line of seasonal confectionery at this shop.
At first glance, Shakespeare and Company is nothing more than another English bookstore. But just a few steps inside the door, you start to see why the storefront is just as much a museum as it is a legendary bookshop. Between the books stacked to the ceiling, there are notes, announcements and fliers left from visitors all over the world. Since 1919, the name Shakespeare and Company has been a refuge to writers. The original bookstore was the stomping grounds of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce and others. Today, writers from all over the world come to share their work. Unknown writers have a place here, too; Shakespeare and Company lends sleeping space in exchange for a couple of hours of work in the store.
Bastille boasts one of the largest markets in the city. It takes skill to weave through its stalls. Thanks to the Parisians, who take their time picking out the best possible product, and the tourists, who take their time inhaling the market's sites and sounds, it's not easy to get from one side to the other. Aside from all the expected fares such as vegetables, fruits, cheese, and both raw and cooked meat and fish, the Bastille market also sells plenty of unexpected items: sewing machines, beeswax figurines, mousetraps, to name a few. The best time to get a deal is just as the market is closing. Vendors will sell plastic bags burgeoning with fruits and veggies at a very cheap price.
Passage Jouffroy is your one stop shop. Though this stop is just a passage, it is a mini shopping paradise offering everything from the most elite jewelry to the simplest of clothes. A multitude of brand names have their products on offer here. A number of quaint shops offering interesting and ethnic wares promise to attract the keen eye. Cozy cafes and bookshops are where you can pick up a steaming hot cup of coffee and a good book to make your day. A very famous haunt at Jouffroy is the Estaminet Lyrique. Even if you are not planning on buying something, a walk around this passage is highly rejuvenating and refreshing.
At Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville (BHV), husband and wife team can go shopping at any stage of marital life. The kitchenware in the main arena offers a wide range of utensils and crockery, while the hardware section in the basement will keep the men glued forever. The most convenient way to shop your separate ways and then meet up at the checkout counter. Call +33 9 7740 1400 or check out the website for information.
Flanked by iconic French landmarks like the majestic Notre Dame and the Conciergerie, Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux has been in operation since 1808, making it the oldest and lone surviving floral market in Paris. Located in the heart of Ile de la Cité, the avenue sees an array of shops featuring exotic flowers, plants and shrubs. From primroses and orchids to violets and myrtles, the seasonal blooms paint a beautiful and tranquil picture in the tourist-dominated area. Open throughout the week, Sundays see bird traders set up shop with rare species of parrots, macaws, doves and budgies, as well as cages, seeds and accessories.
More for perusal than serious book-buying, Les Bouquinistes (book peddlers), with their characteristic green metal lockers and sit-around-all-day attitude, form a vital part of Parisian folklore. Most vendors are out along the banks of the Seine come rain or shine, selling an array of antique and not-so-antique books, manuscripts, prints, and postcards. Don't miss them, having no legal status, they may disappear one of these days.
Tucked away in a small street in historic Marais, Il était une fois or Once upon a time is a wonderful store that specializes in all things fantasy. From home decor to personal jewelry, Christmas ornaments and gifts, the shop has an eclectic collection of unique specialty goods. The upper level showcases items inspired by the world of fairy, while the lower level devotes itself to Christmas and the holiday season. From terrifying trolls to benevolent witches and cheery Father Christmas, this store brings the imagination to life.
Located on Place Saint-Michel, Gilbert Jeune is a popular bookstore known for its prolific itinerary. You'll find not only scores of great books and magazines here but also stationery and office supplies such as paper, pen, notebooks and much more. The family-run bookstore also stocks used books and vintage collectibles. If you're looking for some hard-to-find book, out of manufacturing, this is probably where you will find it.