Some of the most memorable experiences of my life have been shopping in Paris. Perhaps I’ve not seen enough of the world, but winding our way down narrow cobblestone streets into shops like above, the oldest cookware shop in Paris – Dehillerin, is just so ….. charming. So French! The aisles of copper and wood and enamel cookware. The fancy cake molds and glassware. The dusty smell of the old building. It’s a ‘must-visit’ on my list of recommended ‘to-dos’ for any foodie or food enthusiast who visits Paris.
Rue Coquillère 18-20
Paris (at les Halles)
Dehillerin aside, my favorite place to look for the real flavor of a city is its grocery store. 🙂 In France, a major chain grocery called Monoprix where you can find all kinds of perfect (and inexpensive!) souvenirs to take home. Like the latte bowl above. Anthropologie sells bowls like these, but you need to triple the price of what they go for in a French grocery.
And French sea salt! This is a nice brand, but you can find others — a huge bag of grey sea salt — for around $2.00. Did you know that sea salt gets it’s colour and high mineral content from the way the water evaporates and how it is raked in the sea tray. The good stuff comes from the Normandy and Brittany regions in the north. It’s delicious.
School and office supplies: Maybe it’s just me, but the paper and pen and art supply aisles cause me to linger. The school kids over here don’t write on the lined notebook paper I am accustomed to, but rather ‘graph’ paper. Someday if I get the nerve, I’ll take a photo of one of Jillian’s classmates handwriting. The kids are taught early to using fine graph paper and good pens and the handwriting is beautiful and neat. The fountain pens found in a basic grocery store are drool-worthy.
Alright, there are more souvenir suggestions to be had (French wine! Chocolate! Berets! Dijon Mustard! Hermes scarves! Ha!), but my cup of tea is almost empty and there are children getting ready for bed. My last grocery suggestion is to scan the never-ending yogurt and cheese aisle. After you pick up a good baguette, a bottle of wine, and some fresh Camembert (the unpasteurized kind that is forbidden in the US), the next item ought to be some delicious yogurt. The brand le Fermiere makes yogurt in a beautiful little terra cotta pot that can be used again and again.
Chocolate Pot de Creme. Or use it to store some of those French thumbtacks, a handful of pencils. Or grey sea salt.