When I fly home every year, friends ask: “What is your favorite Parisian store?” Dur, dur. Tough call. There are so many wonderful boutiques and department stores in Paris, it would be impossible to choose just one. One problem, when shopping in France, is that sales are a biannual event by law. It may be hard to find deals the rest of the year, even if many stores bend the rules by organizing des promotions or des ventes privées (private sales.) There is a chain store famous for offering real finds year round, and at affordable prices, Monoprix. The much beloved chain boasts over 200 locations in France, and is owned by the powerful Casino group. Other Casino stores include giant hypermarkets typically located in the suburbs, or less-than-glamorous but convenient neighborhood supermarkets like Franprix. Most are just stores; and that’s why Monoprix is special, and a success story. As a die-hard urbanite, I can only love a store that I can walk to, especially if it offers an irresistible combination of convenience (one-stop shopping) and fun. As I tell my friends before they visit Paris: “If your hotel or apartment is within walking distance of at least one Metro station and a Monoprix, jackpot!”
What does one find chez Monoprix? Tout. Everything. Food. Wine (great selection, including Champagne.) Clothing (love the lingerie and socks!) Toiletries (le Petit Marseillais shower soap, and any product in the Monoprix line.) Make up. Books. Music. Postcards. Gifts. Housewares, and more. Not all Monoprix stores are created equal. They vary in size, appearance, and selection. Parisians always have a favorite boulangerie, café terrace, and a favorite Monoprix. C’est comme ça.
Storage in my American apartment is limited; and I have to pace myself when shopping in France. So I purchase smaller, easy-to-pack items. Monoprix fits the bill, in more ways than one. I always find something there.
My favorite department? Easy. L’Alimentation (Food.) Les Yaourts et desserts. This is the stuff French expats’ dreams are made of.
That’s not all. Discoveries await in every aisle au Monoprix. The toughest decision: Should I get these for myself, or for friends?
You may ask, “Do you do all your shopping au Monoprix, then?” Mais non. There are so many boutiques in Paris, and so little time. Redingote-style coats were popular, for men and women, this winter.
In a small boutique near la Place des Ternes (17th arr.) I found mine; and I have been wearing it a lot since I returned to Seattle.
The French love fine paper and fine pens. I must be French. For Christmas, I treated myself to a brand-new agenda; and I found it in a very elegant boutique in the 17th arrondissement, le Stylo d’Or. This is the kind of place where people return year after year, where the sales person calls regular customers by their last name. Beautiful products, impeccably presented. We are in Paris, ya’all!
I also went vintage-card hunting while exploring the Left Bank with relatives. Cards, vintage or not, make such wonderful gifts, or decor for my apartment or office at home.
Is that all? Of course not. There are many things I could not bring home with me. Too expensive, too big, too heavy. Still, le lèche-vitrine (window browsing) is a great Parisian pastime.