scout paris 
Crowds at the Christmas Village on the Champs-Elysees. Metro: Concorde.
The Christmas season in Paris is in full swing. 

Head to the Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysees and you will quickly get into the holiday spirit. 

The cold didn't keep away the crowds at the market this weekend. The village had a little bit of everything for every age--shopping, music, rides, food, and Santa Claus. 

Christmas music set the mood in between the Rond-Point des Champs Elysées and Place de la Concorde where some 130 vendors were selling handmade crafts, chocolate, and food.

Christmas cookies, chocolate and candy
Visitors can expect a variety of crafts including Christmas wreaths, soaps, clothing, toys, Paris souvenirs, jewelry, holiday cards, and decorative objects.

Kitsch was definitely a theme throughout the show with live food and craft demonstrations.

There was an impressive selection of French cheese, sausage, wine, caviar, chocolate, traditional holiday cakes, and candy. 

The village is filled with food options for lunch or dinner including well-priced crepes, waffles, sandwiches, soup, pastries, breads, hot wine, hot chocolate, and more.

This is definitely a family event where kids can ride on the Ferris wheel at Concorde, the mini roller coaster, the child-sized luge, or the carousel. Try to go back during the evening for a different experience. The village and Ferris wheel sparkle at night with white lights. 

The Marche de Noel des Champs-Elysées closes on January 2. It's free and open daily. Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau or Concorde.

Highlights: A Fabulous Mix of Food, Crafts, & Rides

more holiday markets to visit.....
Christmas trees at the Marche de Noel des Champs-Elysees. Metro: Concorde.
Paris is known for its markets. So, if you plan on visiting Paris during the holiday season, try to go to one of these Christmas-themed markets.

Christmas Market at La Défense Market features 350 vendors. Open daily until Dec. 27. Metro: La Défense.

Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Trocadero Ice skating and 120 vendors. Open until Jan. 2. Location: Place de la Trocadero, across from the Eiffel Tower. Metro: Trocadero.

Christmas Market and Santa's Village at Saint-Sulpice Open daily from Dec. 3 to Jan. 2. Location: Place Saint-Sulpice. Metro: Saint-Sulpice.

Christmas Market and Santa's Village at Saint-Germain Open every day from Dec. 3 to Jan. 2. Location: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Christmas Market at Place de la Nation Open daily from early December. Location: Place de la Nation. Metro: Nation.

Christmas Market at the Place des Abbesses This market will be open every day in December. Location: Place des Abbesses. Metro: Abbesses.

Christmas Market at Gare de l'Est Open from December 3rd-December 18. Location: Gare de l'Est. Metro: Gare de l'Est.

Le Petit Cler, 29 rue Cler. Metro: École Militaire
Paris has an endless variety of bistros. My favorite pick? Le Petit Cler--on rue Cler in the 7th Arrondissement.

Customers will feel right at home in this tiny bistro with its friendly staff, intimate tables, and delicious French cuisine. 

The menu serves classic French fare from duck confit, pork stew, and seared salmon to roasted free-range chicken, steak tartare, and seared pork sausage. 

Make sure you order from Petit Cler's wine and cocktail list. A nice pairing is a glass of the Petit Chablis with Petit Cler's moelleux cake--a flourless chocolate fondant cake served warm. It's pretty heavenly and worth every calorie.

Even in the cold winter season, customers can enjoy sitting in the front patio (complete with heat lamps) or dine inside to enjoy the cozy space with walnut walls and small bistro tables. 

Prices are mid-range with main courses starting at $16, a glass of wine is about $5, and $8 for dessert. This dining spot is quite popular, so try to plan ahead and make a reservation.

I know where every French bistro in Manhattan takes inspiration from--cafes like Le Petit Cler. Come here for lunch or dinner and you will understand why.

A glimpse inside Le Petit Cler.
the dish...
  • Le Petit Cler is located at 29 rue Cler in the 7th Arrondissement--on one of the prettiest cobblestone streets in Paris.
  • Metro: École Militaire. 
  • Prices start at 12 euros (about $16) for a main course.
  • The bistro gets very busy for dinner, so plan ahead and make a reservation.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served. Credit cards accepted.
  • During the winter season, Le Petit Cler has heat lamps (as do most cafes in Paris) in order to keep the front of the restaurant nice and toasty.
  • New Yorker's will compare this bistro to Pastis in Manhattan--just a bit smaller in scale.


It was a typical November Sunday afternoon in Paris: A walk in the rain, a leisurely lunch at Petit Cler, and shopping. I was excited to stumble upon an antiques market on rue Cler. It doesn't happen every Sunday, but this was a serious market. Dealers set-up nicely designed booths filled with quality inventory including colored glass, decorative china, antique hardware, and French textiles. 

Enjoy the scouting shots...

trends in the market: vintage flatware, china, and hardware.

Zen Ethic, 52 rue des Francs Bourgeois. Metro: Rambeteau
The winter season has arrived in Paris. My answer to winter's gloom? A dose of colorful prints from Zen Ethic.

This small shop in the Marais carries a cheerful variety of Indian-inspired printed home textiles, clothing, and accessories. 

It's all about vivid floral, paisley, and geometric prints. The pieces are also simple ways to add a little summer to a living space.

Zen Ethic's organic and fair trade collection features embroidered pillows ($40-$120), quilts (starting at $200), curtains, and fabric ($40 apiece). 

Pretty cotton hand-embroidered pillows.
Try to mix different prints together for a personal touch. The busy designs look great together. 

And if you're lucky enough to be heading to a warm destination for the holidays, the shop also offers light cotton tunics ($120), dresses ($150), scarves ($50), and bags ($60).

The store also has pretty felt necklaces and pins, as well as some unique silver jewelry pieces. 

Handmade felt pins and necklaces.
need to know...
  • Zen Ethic is located at 52 rue des Francs Bourgeois.
  • Metro: Rambeteau 
  • The shop carries pretty cotton printed textiles, clothing, accessories, and decorative objects. 
  • If you prefer to keep things simple when it comes to fashion or home decor, this store isn't for you. But, a small touch of color never hurt anyone. 
  • The store is open everyday. 
  • Check out the map to see where it's located in the Marais.

Hot chocolate at Angelina. 226 Rue de Rivoli. Metro: Concorde.
Looking for the best hot chocolate in Paris? Visit Angelina for a cup of decadent hot chocolate in one of the prettiest tea salons in the city.

The classic tea salon opened its doors in 1903, across the street from the Louvre and the Tuileries. Angelina's serves a full menu with sandwiches, salads, pastries, tea, and hot chocolate. Even Coco Chanel was a fan.

Angelina's African hot chocolate (about $9) is served in a pitcher along with teacups and a bowl of Chantilly cream--if the chocolate alone isn't enough. The chocolate is rich, thick, and heavenly. 

Choose from a variety of amazing desserts and breads. Our table decided to try a little bit of everything--a buttery croissant ($5), a raisin brioche ($5), and a colorful selection of macarons ($3 each). 

The staff is quite friendly and the service is excellent. They don't rush you out the door, even though there is a line of people waiting to be served. 

Before you leave, don't forget to walk through the bakery where you can take home Angelina's hot chocolate, tea, cookies, and fresh pastries. Two tips: Go upstairs to view the ornate dining room from the balcony. And, leave yourself at least 20 minutes to wait for a table.

The cafe is not for the budget-minded, but I am a big believer in treating yourself from time to time. A visit to Angelina's is a splurge you will not regret.  Trust me!

before you go...
  • Angelina's is located at 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001. 
  • Metro: Concorde, Tuileries, or Pyramides.
  • Go before or after a day at the Louvre. There is always a wait outside, but it moves fast.
  • The tea salon is open everyday from 8 AM until 7 PM.
  • It was designed by Belle Epoque architect Edouard-Jean Niermans. 
  • Review the map below.

Galeries Lafayette's festive display is proof that the holiday season is upon us. I love Christmas in New York, but I think Paris may have won me over. The department store is located at 40, blvd Haussmann. Metro: Opera.
Le Bon Marche: 24 Rue de Sèvres. Metro: Sèvres-Babylone.
Everything about Le Bon Marché is chic. 

And, if you are looking for design ideas or a unique gift to bring back home, visit the department store's Galerie Imaginaire.  

Galerie Imaginaire (on the store's top level) is a dreamy and modern space with metallic gold floors and white fixtures--the perfect backdrop for the exciting mix of inventory. 

The department is entirely devoted to fine French ceramics, accessories, paper, and over the top decorative objects.

It's an eclectic grouping of items ranging from white French tabletop, modern vases and bowls to lighthearted balloon-like wall hangings and decoupage plates.

Prices are high, but it's so refreshing to see innovative design that you will not find in most stores. Even if you are on a budget, the window-shopping is an experience. Another good reason to visit: the store is decorated for the holiday season.

Le Bon Marche
just the details...
  • Le Bon Marché was the first fine department store in Paris.
  • The building was designed by Gustave Eiffel.
  • Top designer labels, cosmetics, furniture, bedding, bath, home decor, books, food, and accessories.
  • Located at 24 Rue de Sèvres in the 7th Arrondissement.
  • Metro: Line 10; Sèvres-Babylone.
  • The Galerie Imaginaire is located on the top floor. The floor also has a wonderful bookstore, modern-style furniture department, and bedding area. 
  • The map below should help you get there.

Secco is located at 20, Rue Jean-Nicot. Metro: La Tour Maubourg
A boulangerie can be found on almost every block in Paris. One in particular sets the bar very high-- Stéphane Secco in the 7th Arrondissement. 

Secco—sometimes referred to as the pink bakery for its brightly painted storefront—offers freshly baked breads, desserts, pizza, quiches, salads, and sandwiches. 

This classic Parisian bakery has it all—a beautiful space, delicious offerings, and a friendly staff.  

Just a warning: You will find yourself coming back for more to try Secco's oversized macarons, a pain au lait, and a raspberry tart. 

If you stop by to pick-up lunch, try the poppy seed baguette with mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato (about $6) or the Niçoise salad (About $9). All salads include Secco's divine bread of the day.

It's so refreshing to be living in a city where bread is considered an essential part of the diet. Bread is considered a bad thing to eat by many Americans. In Paris, it's common to see most people walking home with a baguette. I am happily now one of them. And, a loyal Secco customer.

Just a note: there is always a line during breakfast and lunch. But, it's definitely worth the wait. 

"Paris is always a good idea." -- From the movie Sabrina.

Freshly baked breads, desserts, sandwiches, and salads at Secco.
  • Secco is located at 20, Rue Jean-Nicot in the 7th Arrondissement. Closed on Monday.
  • Metro: Line 8; La Tour Maubourg or École Militaire.
  • Sandwiches and pastries start at about $6 and salads from $8. A croissant or brioche costs $4 each. 
  • Tips: Pick up a couple of sandwiches and pastries and have lunch along the Seine (only a few blocks away) or have a picnic at the Invalides. 
  • There is a line at lunchtime, but the wait is worth it. Trust me!

Voyage en Capitale on view through February 27. Metro: Saint-Paul.
The history of Louis Vuitton's travel luggage debuts for the first time at the Musée Carnavalet. 

Voyage en Capitale takes visitors on a journey inside the world of Louis Vuitton's remarkable travel trunks.  

You don't have to be a fan of the fashion label to appreciate this exhibit. The show also tells a story about first class travel in the 1800s and early 1900s. 

There were several beautifully crafted examples on display including trunks that stored clothing, toiletries, dolls, shoes, teas, shoes, and linens. Intimate photographs and artwork accompany the exhibit.

Voyage en Capitale is on view until February 27. The 9 euro ($12) ticket also includes a visit through the rest of the Musee Carnavalet. It's definitely worth taking the time to see the whole museum. 
The Musee Carnavalet
The Musée Carnavalet features over 100 galleries devoted to the history of Paris with artwork and period rooms from the 16th through the 20th centuries. 

The building's facade is quite impressive and it's considered to the best examples of architecture in the Marais district. I agree. 

The museum's courtyard (left) is not only beautiful, but offers a quiet retreat from the busy streets.

a glimpse inside the courtyard...

  • Musée Carnavalet is located at 23, rue de Sevigne.
  • Metro: Saint-Paul, Rambuteau, or Chemin Vert.
  • Bus lines: 29, 69, 76, 96.
  • The museum is free, but there is a fee for special exhibits. The Louis Vuitton exhibit is 9 euros ($12).
  • Voyage en Capitale is on display until February 27, 2011.
  • The map below will help guide you to the museum. 

Vintage paper at Marché aux Puces de Vanves. Metro: Porte de Vanves
I love vintage paper. So, I was told that a good source for vintage ephemera was the outdoor market Marché aux Puces de Vanves.

I was pleasantly surprised. It was a collector's dream to be able to look through stacks and stacks of beautiful paper for as little as a euro apiece.

Vintage paper items are hard to find at low prices in the markets in New York. 

The vintage ephemera ranged from illustrated postcards, personal letters, invoices, fabric swatch cards, books, journals, and photographs. 

The market also has dealers selling vintage silver, china, ceramics, clothing, shoes, bags, and furniture. You can also find new clothing, kitchen items, and accessories. 

There was a lot of junk at the market, so it required a little patience to score some finds. My advice is to visit this market early. Some dealers start packing up as early as 1pm on Sundays. 

Marché aux Puces de Vanves 

Cafe au lait bowls at the market
before you go...
  • Marché aux Puces de Vanves stretches along two long blocks: Avenue Marc Sangnier and Avenue Georges Lafenestre.
  • The market is free and open every Saturday and Sunday from 7am til 5pm.
  • Metro: Line 13; Porte de Vanves.
  • Get to the market early. Some antiques dealers start packing up as early as 1pm.
  • When you go online for more information, try google chrome, so that it will translate the French website.
  • The map below will help you get there.