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Un-Shopping in Paris

A lot of people go to Paris to shop. I’m not one of them.  Still, I always make sure to swing by La Tuile a Loup, a delightfully cluttered little store in the fifth arrondissement, where every spare corner is piled high with regional French dishware, baskets and linens. Located at 35 rue Daubenton, each visit to La Tuile a Loup yields new treasures.

When my friend and I find a selection of whimsical bowls from Auvergne adorned with hand-painted birds, farm animals, and fish ($50), we lay them all out on the floor to determine our favorites. Perhaps next time we can spring for the matching one-of-a-kind platters or covered terrines.

I pick up a ceramic olive jar from Provence ($35) as a gift, knowing I'll have a hard time parting with it.

I eye a fabulous tin and wire sculpture of a boy flying a kite in the Luxembourg Gardens, but settle for some colorful serving pieces from the historic Dauphine region.

After an hour-and-a-half, we reluctantly pull ourselves away. I know I'll be back, however, and that makes leaving easier.

I have just as hard a time tearing myself away from Dehillerin, a tiny and ridiculously popular store in Les Halles stuffed from floor to ceiling with professional cookware, much of it copper. When I was growing up in Paris, my folks created “The Pot of the Month Club.” So every four weeks, they’d head back to Dehillerin and add to their collection. Years later, Dad carted back a starter kit of copper pots after a visit to Paris—the foundation of my own collection. I may not buy one every month, but I buy one almost every time I return to Paris.

Aside from the outdoor markets, Dehillerin is my second and only shopping pilgrimage. Unless a change of weather, not uncommon in Paris, makes me realize that I haven’t exactly packed the right wardrobe. Then I head to the Boulevard St. Germain. No, not to all those monstrously expensive designer boutiques, but rather to the Kilo Shop for vintage togs.

“Have you weighted your items?” the cashier asked when I had found what I needed, including a couple of trendy, colorful Desigual pieces that I love.

That’s right. At the Kilo Shop, clothes are priced by, you guessed it, the kilo.

I spent so little that I thought about treating myself to something else from La Tuile a Loup. Instead, I headed to Chez Marcel, my favorite Paris bistro, for a lunch that was worth every last euro.