Christmas shopping guide in northern France
Grab the chance to buy some Christmas stocking fillers in towns that are just a short trip across the Channel. Zoë McIntyre is your guide
Within the Brittany port’s historic walls, you will find a wide selection of regional treats, particularly in Rue Saint-Vincent. Épices Roellinger is packed with exotic spices, aromatic oils and tea infusions (tel: (Fr) 6 18 80 44 10, www.epices-roellinger.com), while Maison Georges Larnicol has irresistible sweets, caramels and chocolates (tel: (Fr) 2 99 40 57 62, www.chocolaterielarnicol.fr). On the same street, fashionable nautical clothing is on sale at Saint James boutique (tel: (Fr) 2 23 18 40 00, www.saint-james.co.uk). Au Gré du Vent in Rue de Dinan specialises in handmade pottery (tel: 2 99 56 27 98, www.poterie-augreduvent.com) and Gauthier Marines in Rue Porcon de la Barbinais stocks models of wooden ships as well as marine ornaments and sculptures (tel: 2 99 40 91 81, www.gauthiermarines.com).
The historic fishing port makes a peaceful alternative to nearby Calais for stocking up on festive indulgences. In Rue Thiers, Trésor de Vin stores a range of wines, champagnes and spirits, as well as hampers of local specialities (tel: (Fr) 3 21 30 39 13, www.tresordevin.com). In the same street, select the ultimate cheeseboard at Philippe Olivier’s celebrated fromagerie, which is filled with a huge variety of perfectly kept French cheeses from the region and beyond (tel: (Fr) 3 21 31 94 74, www.philippeolivier.fr). Dessert can be picked up at the town’s seasonal market, which, among other treats, stocks a local Christmas pudding – similar to the English version, but with extra prunes and laced with rum. To buy drinks in bulk, take a half-hour drive to the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer, where the Wine Society’s showroom guarantees members a saving of at least £18 on a dozen bottles (tel: 01438 741 177, www.thewinesociety.com).
A wide selection of brands and boutiques can be found among the flamboyant Flemish architecture of Vieux-Lille, making it a top shopping destination for that special something. Luxury clothes stores including Louis Vuitton and Hermès line Rue de la Grande Chaussée, and another retail haven is the shopping centre in the Euralille district between the city’s two railway stations. Antique shops, art stalls and chic boutiques dominate Rue d’Angleterre, while Place du Géneral de Gaulle (also known as Grand’Place) is home to Le Furet du Nord, a bookshop with a wide choice of English-language titles (tel: (Fr) 3 20 78 43 43, www.furet.com). For gourmet gifts, drop into Chocolat Passion in Rue Nationale (tel: (Fr) 3 20 54 74 42, www.chocolatpassion.com) or the Meert pâtisserie in Rue Esquermoise which, within a palatial galleried interior, sells handmade sweets, caramels and its signature vanilla gaufres (tel: (Fr) 3 20 57 07 44, www.meert.fr).