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Christmas Shopping on the Champs Elysees

Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007

It may be only the 15th of November, but Champs Elysees is already getting spruced up for the Christmas Holidays. The smell of freshly cut pine trees is in the air as the City of Paris gardeners arrange Christmas trees on the Champs Elysees Rond Point. Aside from the aroma of pine needles, you may catch a whiff of pricey perfumer at Guerlain,, 68 Champs Elysees, one of Paris’s top perfumer houses. For Christmas its windows are decorated with its ‘white bee’ and ‘golden bee’ scents which start at a paltry 300 and 400 Euros for a little l’eau de toilette.

If you’ve already visited Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, you may already know that the emperor’s emblem was the honey bee. Diligence, hard work, and maybe you, too, can afford a bottle of golden bee perfume. I have to admit, I wasn’t even so bold as to walk into ask for a free sample. However, I did pop in next door to Sephora where you can try out all sorts of perfume samples to your heart’s content. Or you can have a French makeover.

There were dozens of nicely gift packaged perfumes here, but quite honestly, whatever scent was permeating the Sephora shop drove me out before I ever considered testing a single scent.

You may recall in past posts I have not had many kind words for the Champs Elysees as a recommended Paris highlight, however, if you’re in Paris during the holiday season, there are a number of good reasons to visit this Right Bank bastion of consumerism.

This is the proverbial toy shop for adults as well as children and one of the most fun places to stop in and be mesmerized is the Renault ‘Magic’ Atelier at 53 Champs Elysees. You may not be in the market for a Renault, but they sell toy Renaults as well as the full size model. Their displays never cease to impress me – and I’m not even a car buff. If you pop in a Sunday afternoon, you may want to try out their Sunday brunch. For 25 Euros, you can have champagne and a Spanish omelette on the second level.


Shopping for Toys?

Another good reason to come to the Champs Elysees is if you’re looking for toy shops for kids (I wouldn’t have known about this shop if it hadn’t been the group from Almaty, Kazakhstan in the Metro who had been looking for a toy shop at the Franklin Roosevelt Metro stop. (Toy stores are not always easy to find in Paris!)

It’s called La Grande ‘Recre’ (short for Recreation), 126 Rue de la Boetie, Metro: Franklin Roosevelt. This is your basic toy store, including children’s books in French. You can also explore some of the neighboring Champs Elysees passages for affordable souvenirs for kids such as:

Souvenir Centr n3 (the owner speaks English, and he’s very nice)
Passage Champs
84, Champs Elysees

In the same passage, SP Collection includes T-shirts, belts and shoes from Replay, G-Star, Kaporel, Schmoove, Bray Steeve Alan and Bunker. (Paris streetwear personified).

Some other affordable options for souvenirs and shopping including Monoprix (directly opposite the toy shop on the corner of the Champs Elysees and Rue Boetie, Promod, Zara, (for womenswear) and Minelli (for boots and shoes) are all very moderately priced.

Beware once you get to the Rond Point and turn the corner onto Avenue Montaigne. You have crossed the border from tourist-driven Champs Elysees and edged your way into the heady aura of ‘haute couture’ or something ‘semblable’. I have to admit that the new Louis Vuitton behemoth, D&C Boutique and Chanel leave me feeling cold. Picking up a little evening clutch for much less than a grand is unlikely, but surprisingly you might find a warm scarf down the avenue a ways for 100 Euros.

What’s almost more fun than window shopping is looking at the Paris street fashion. At this time of year, you’re most likely to see local sales people (and some actual clients) popping out of shops or taxis to find a lunch spot. The coats may be classic in line, but always with a dash of color in just the right place. You’ll see plenty of high leather boots molded to long and longer legs.

Everyone is delighted to have a sunny November day as a good excuse to sport their shades.

All that remains to complete a Champs promenade is to find the right spot for a light lunch (i.e. fuel). The budget is tight. Where does one eat on the Champs for less than 10 Euros – voila the eternal question. I admitted that I haven’t set foot in a Macdo (Macdonalds) in recent years. I actually tried walking into the ‘Quick’ which is a ‘Macdo’ clone. Couldn’t do it. That’s what happens after seeing the movie ‘Supersize me’.

Here is a fine option. If you walk into the passage 66 Champs Elysees (taking the side entrance from Rue de la Boetie, you’ll note a number of ‘quick food’ options including the
Ginza Elysees
Tel. 01 45 62 31 03.
For 7 Euros, I had a plate of 6 Kapa Maki and a mug of green tea.
The ambiance is polite, A comfortable table and chair available.
Sushi and skewered ‘brochettes’ are also options, ranging in menu price from 8.50 to 15 Euros. I noted that a number of people eating here appeared to be locals.

If you are visiting the Champs Elysees with kids, you may want to consider continuing your walk from the Rond Point Metro: Champs Elysees to Place de la Concorde and the Tuilieries Gardens.
Here you’ll find the huge ferris wheel which was originally installed for the new millennium celebrations. In my humble opinion, the very best aerial view of Paris is from the top of a ferris wheel. It’s the most fun – and the least hassle.