Press release date: 23rd October 2012
If you are starting to tire of the repetitive perfume sets, hampers and selection boxes that seem to cover Irish store shelves each Christmas, then how about taking a weekend trip to France where you can pick up original and affordable gifts for your loved ones.
See below for our top picks, all of which have low cost flights year-round, and are all accessible in less than 3 hours.
For a glitzy and glamorous shopping break, the country’s capital has got a plethora of options. On any street in Paris, you can find both ends of the budget spectrum so finding a bargain isn’t difficult. But if you’re looking for trendy bric a brac boutiques, head over to the neighbourhoods of Abbesses, Valmy, Charlot, Palais-Royal, Bac-St-Placide, Alesia and Porte de Versailles. In each of these areas, you’ll also find outlet boutiques for all the big French brands as well as shops for second hand luxury items and last season’s collections.
Shoppers can benefit from an additional 10% discount in 70 boutiques with the city’s Paris City Passport Shopping 2012.
For accommodation, take a look at Chez Ernesto near the Marais area. Or, in the centre of town, the Hotel Crayon has single rooms starting at under €100.
Toulouse is a bustling city in the southwest of France with a heavy supply of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Why not try your hand at making gifts yourself? Rue Cujas is home to Fifi Jolis Pois, where you can design and make your own jewellery – they have all the tools on hand if you don’t have your own at home. Try your hand at cooking up some French delights with a cooking lesson in Foie Gras or Macarons at L’Atelier des Chefs – Rue Idrac. Or head down Rue Peyrolières to check out the French vintage shops.
Looking for a place to stay? Try in the beautiful Amboise barge B&B just on the banks of the canal on Boulevard Griffoul Dorval or the charming boutique Hotel de France off of President Thomas Wilson place near some of the lovely boutiques Toulouse has to offer.
Lille’s old town has a lovely array of eclectic boutiques where good deals are easy to find and you can even create your own French gifts. For original boutiques, head over to Les Cousines de Léon on the rue Royale or l’Atelier de la Sorciere Verte on rue de la Clef. This season, shoppers can also benefit from Lille 3000′s fantastic-inspired gifts available around the city, most easily recognized by the pink rabbit mascot.
For accommodation, take a look at the B&B La Maison du Jardin Vauban, only a few streets away from the old Lille and right next to the beautiful Vauban Gardens.
European Capital of Culture 2013, Marseille is a city widely known for being an international cultural melting pot and has a stunning coastline to boot.
Many streets in Marseille will cater to your budget: Rue de Rome, Rue Saint-Ferréol, Rue de la République and Avenue de la Canebière. The Le Panier district is home to numerous workshops belonging to artists and artisans, as well as galleries and shops where you can taste local specialities and regional products.
For budget accommodation try Casa Ortega and Pension Edelweiss – two concept B&Bs in central Marseille which offer rooms under €100 per night .
Known as the capital of Gastronomy in France, Lyon offers great culinary excursions for your Christmas shopping holiday. There is also the famous Festival of Light in December.
Lyon’s markets and old streets have a lively atmosphere, as do the workshops of fashion designers located on the city’s main squares. Situated in the Passage Thiaffait, the Village des Créateurs comprises around thirty boutiques run by young designers from the region, as well as ten other shops run by talented designers from elsewhere. There is also Auguste Comté and Charité streets which have plenty of eclectic and original boutiques along with antique shops.
Affordable accommodation is offered in the charming College Hotel, inspired by secondary school décor, and the B&B Jardin d’Hiver.
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