Parisian haunts to inspire discerning buyers

The French capital has it all if you know where to look. Charlotte Reversé offers an insider's guide

1 Colette

1 Colette

Possibly the trendiest - and snobbiest - shop in Paris. On chic rue Saint-Honore, Colette sells the very latest in limited-edition gadgets, cosmetics and clothes. You can also refresh yourself at the "waterbar", which offers an amazing choice of mineral waters from across the world.

Colette, 213 rue Saint-Honore 75001 Paris (00 33 1 55 35 33 90;

2 Vanessa Bruno

Bruno's "cabat" sequined handbags were last year's hit. This season her Empire-style silk and lace dress is turning Parisian heads. The shop itself is worth seeing with its three boudoir-style changing rooms each depicting a different era - Victorian, 1970s and contemporary.

Vanessa Bruno, 12 rue de Castiglione 75001 Paris (00 33 1 42 61 44 60).

3 La Droguerie

A treasure trove for fashionistas, La Droguerie provides all the materials needed to make your own accessories. Jars upon jars are filled with brightly coloured sequins, velvet petals and rosettes. You can even buy pearls. And in case you're lacking inspiration, there are necklaces and bracelets on display to get your creative juices flowing.

La Droguerie, 9 et 11 rue du Jour, 75001 Paris (00 33 1 45 08 93 27;

4 L'Artisan Parfumeur

Design your ideal perfume at L'Artisan Parfumeur. The ground floor offers a wide range of perfumes, candles and sachets for sale. On the first floor you can create your own fragrance with the help of an assistant (beware, it will take at least three appointments and three months to receive the finished product). Or you can have a three-hour olfactory session where you can learn all about perfume.

L'Artisan Parfumeur, 2 rue de l'Amiral de Coligny, 75001 Paris (00 33 1 44 88 27 50;

5 Marie Mercie

The grande dame of the hat industry makes elegant and innovative "couvre-chefs". Working with felt and velvet, straw and sisal, each season Marie organises small exhibitions in her shop. For Christmas, she has drawn inspiration from La Fontaine's Tales, by the 17th-century poet of that name, with the shop's windows full of humorous animal hats displayed on dummies rescued from a theatre.

Marie Mercie, 23 rue Saint-Sulpice, 75006 Paris (00 33 1 43 26 45 83).

6 Sentou

Under one roof, French cutting-edge designers including 100DRINE and Tse-Tse. Whether you're looking for vases, dishes or cutlery, this shop offers an abundance of gift ideas. One of the best-sellers is the "vase d'avril", a creation by Tse-Tse, which consists of 21 glass tubes linked together with rings enabling its position to be changed. Sentou has three shops in the Marais, a quarter famous for its small streets and attractive boutiques.

Sentou, 18 rue du Pont Louis Philippe, 75004 Paris (00 1 33 42 77 44 79;

7 La Hune

A meeting point for arty folk in the 1950s, Saint-Germain-des-Pres is now an exclusive address. But those days are remembered in the bookshop La Hune, which has been championing young writers and artists for more than 50 years. As well as having a selection of French and foreign literature (all in French), this shop's unique selling point is the "image section" on the first floor. There you can find books and brochures about graphic arts, architecture, fashion, cinema and music.

La Hune, 170 Boulevard St-Germain. 75006 Paris. (00 33 1 45 48 80 99).

8 Pierre Herme

A disciple of legendary pastry chef Gaston Lenotre, Alsatian-born Pierre Herme has won the heart of Paris by revolutionising the classics of his trade. For example, his "deux-mille feuilles" marries puff pastry with praline-flavoured cream. Look out for his wonderful "buches de Noel" - a gourmet spin on the humble yule log.

Pierre Herme, 72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris (00 33 1 43 54 47 77).

9 Comptoir de la gastronomie

Taramasalata made from sea urchins, pink salt from Himalaya, salmon from the Baltic Sea - these are just some of the sought-after delicacies on sale at Comptoir de la gastronomie. With Christmas coming, the shop is of course well stocked with France's favourite and controversial treat, foie gras. You can even try before you buy, by enjoying a "petites douceurs" at the tables on the ground floor. Open until midnight, this is also a good place for dinner.

Comptoir de la Gastronomie, 34 rue Montmartre. 75001 Paris (00 33 1 42 33 31 32;

10 A la mère de famille

One for the sweet-toothed, A la mere de famille offers sweets "a l'ancienne": boiled sweets, sweet violet, ginger breads, home-made chocolates... It also sells a speciality toffee from southern France called "negus", tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside. You'll feel like a kid again.

A la mere de famille, 35 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris (00 33 1 47 70 83 69;

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