It had been years since I last stumbled upon the Passage du Grand Cerf in the 2nd, a long and narrow gallery of creative shops. Though I wasn't the only shopper, part of me felt like I had happened upon an untouched jewel. If I share this spot today it's because I know it will charm those seeking an original memento that lives outside the well-worn Paris souvenir vacuum.
Like a much younger version of myself in a candy store, I spun from wall to wall admiring the original posters, prints and greeting cards, wishing I had more free space on my walls to hang something new. Considering my Francophile friend in Brooklyn, I opted instead for a spacious canvas tote painted with an illustration of Paris's 20 arrondissements - the last one in stock.
On this particular day, the space glowed for the holiday season, bedecked in warm, yellow twinkle lights, wreaths and garlands. Though filled with last minute shoppers, the only sound to be heard was the clanging of tiny bells hanging from shop doors and the ensuing chorus of "bonnes fêtes" (happy holidays).
Outside an antiques shop, vintage ornaments spilled over the edge of old baskets just waiting to be snatched up. I ambled along past card stores and independent clothing boutiques, stopping in my tracks as I arrived in front of L'Illustre Boutique, a charming little shop specialized in limited edition illustrations by French artists.