Minimalist, cutting edge, and super-chic, Colette is one of those shops that is more of a museum than a traditional boutique.  (There is even a water bar in the basement -  At first, the shop may appear to be a little pretentious but ultimately, it offers a lot of unexpected whimsy to explore.  Due to the high prices, we have steered away from purchasing much of anything beyond the store's innovative and groundbreaking CD compilations.  However if you have a wad of euros in your pocket, you certainly could go crazy buying groovy little items for yourself, friends, or loved ones.

Colette boasts the best in design in fashion, household objects, books and music for your highly stylized life!   (We still love the book we purchased here in 2004.  Private features pages and pages of faux celebrity scandal images dreamed up by photographer Alison Jackson.)

Colette, open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, is definitely worth checking out, even just for inspiration, when strolling down rue Saint-Honoré in the Les Halles neighborhood.

Colette - 213, rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, 011 (33) 1 55 35 33 90

Saint-Germain-des-Prés (neighborhood)

Avid shoppers traveling to Paris will immediately flock, of course, to the famed Champs-Élysées, a broad boulevard that features many world-class boutiques and designers.  Your "Set of Drifters" suggests the more quaint neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés instead.   Sure, you will still find a few big names here along boulevard Saint-Germain, but it's the smaller antique stores and family-run boutiques that will really charm the euros right out of your wallet.  We visited just such a toy store, the perfect place to buy unique prezzies for those nieces and nephews back home!  Saint-Germain-des-Prés has more than just shopping though.  Like sister-enclave Montparnasse (see "sights"), the neighborhood was once home to literary greats like Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway.  It's no wonder then that Saint-Germain-des-Prés is home to more brasseries than you could ever imagine - small art galleries and bookstores as well.  You could browse this neighborhood all afternoon and not nearly see enough of it.

Set of Drifters tip:   Make sure to stop off at the chain music store Fnac while strutting around Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  Here you can listen to 100's of albums before you commit, which is great because when traveling to new countries you often have no idea what is good or what is not!   We highly recommend buying music from the countries you visit while abroad.  Listening to the tunes on the plane, or in your hotel room while on vacation, will give back those holiday memories each and every time you hear the same disc back home!

Fnac - 136, rue de Rennes, 75006 Paris, 011 (33) 8 25 02 00 20

The Marais (neighborhood)

The Marais is a favorite neighborhood of many travelers to Paris.  This popularity however does not stem from its secret alleyways that lead to quaint picturesque courtyards or gorgeous 16th Century mansions.  And the fact that much of the city's gay nightspots are found here is only exciting to particular percentage of the population.   Sadly, the district's rich Jewish heritage may just be a blip on most peoples' radar.  Let's be honest, the Marais is all about the shopping!!!   It is here where you can find the perfect blend avant-garde design boutiques, utilitarian must-haves, and even funky second-hand or antique shops.

Here are some of our faves...

Muji:  True, this simple, clean outpost of all things stationary and style can be found in many cities throughout the globe, but it was in the Marais where we first ventured inside.  The Japanese brand prides itself in offering consumers wonderful prices on a variety of practical items - from clothes all the way down to containers.  We love the no-frills packaging and the high quality of the items that fit inside.  Just try not to spend some euros in here. 

Muji - 47 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75004 Paris, 011 (33) 1 49 96 41 41,

Pylones From time to time, everyone needs to pick up a gift for a friend or family member who already has everything they could possibly need.  The beauty of Pylones (pronounced "Pee-Lone") is its array of brightly colored, eclectic household objects that scream "buy me," if for no other reason than that they are, well, cute.

Based in Paris, Pylones translates into energy, and this store has it in spades!  The company was started in 1985 by a group of French designers seeking to create everday items that had a sense of fun and whimsy.  Can openers, lamp shades, spatulas, you name it!  Anything you might have in your house, you will find here at Pylones, but with a unique twist (and probably bathed in a very bright color).

One little guy that will undoubtedly make an appearance here is "Barbapapa," a French cartoon character from the 1970's who was immortalized in books and television, and later merchandised quite successfully in Japan.  "Barbapapa" is actually the name of the character's species, and refers to a French translation of cotton candy ("barbe à papa").  An alien species of creatures made out of wisps of cotton candy - we love it!

You can find Pylones stores throughout the globe, and even online, but you will definitely want to stop by in person while traipsing through the Marais in Paris - where Barbapapa feels most at home!

Pylones - 13 Rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris, 011 (33) 1 48 04 80 10, and

Lucky Records Madonna or Kylie... that is the ultimate question.   Lucky Records is an institution in Paris, well at least for those on the hunt for music and collectibles from two of the most popular "gay icons" of recent Parisian history.  Looking for that rare vinyl pressing of "Spotlight," Madonna's You Can Dance tune that was only released as a single in Spain or Japan?  Chances are Lucky Records will have it.   (In fact, the store even produces the official French fan club magazine of the same name.)  Or perhaps you are desperate for the rare 1990 Kylie Minogue Japanese Annual and mini-CD boxed set?  For a few hundred euros, it can be yours (if you're "lucky").

Of course, if Madge or Kylie are not your cup of tea, Lucky Records is also your one-stop shop for many of France's most popular female pop chanteuses.  Vocalists like Mylène Farmer, France Gall, Brigette Bardot, Line Renaud, Jeanne Mas, Ysa Ferrer, Guesche Patti, and Françoise Hardy fill Lucky's vinyl and CD/ DVD racks.  Have a question about Vanessa Paradis or Sylvie Vartan?   Store manager Georges Vidal, who with partners Christophe Coatanoan and Maurice Robert opened Lucky Records in 1991, will be happy to help out.

The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 12:00 PM to 7:30 PM (closed on Sunday and Monday), and is accessible via the M1 Metro line (Hôtel de Ville station).

Lucky Records - 66, rue Verrerie, 75004 Paris, 011 (33) 1 42 72 74 13,

Fleux:  Wow, this place is so damn fun.   Featuring some of the most dazzling home furnishings you will ever see, Fleux pushes irony to the hilt!  Bloodied cuckoo-clocks with knives impaled in them hang above shelving units set into the backs of cardboard donkeys.  Mini-cacti terrariums (on human legs) stand in rows just beyond a series of candlesticks formed our of upside-down bunnies!  And then there's the overstuffed comfy lounge chair covered in aluminum foil!  This is seriously inspired, and bizarre, stuff here.

Aside from the many dinnerware, stationary and pillow choices, perhaps the most accessible avant-garde items here are the life-sized legos which can be used to construct chairs, table legs or bedposts!  In bright florescents, these building blocks will sure make a statement in your very own day-glo home, but they do not come cheap.  Individual lego blocks vary from €15 to €25 (about USD $20 to $35).  Even if the brilliance in this shop comes at high prices, it sure is a gas to look at!  Oh, and that bamboo radio is soooo cute!

Fleux - 39, rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris, 011 (33) 1 42 78 27 20,