Renovations Complete at La Grande Epicerie

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Just before Christmas, La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the Left Bank gourmet grocery that has been under renovation for a year and a half, unveiled its new look.

The store has been opened up visually and spacially, with a glass roof and an escalator connecting 3 floors. It’s added some 20,000 products, moved some departments, and created others.

The new store is arranged like a marketplace, with green grocers, butchers, fishmongers, artisan pastry chefs and cheesemongers available for consultation.

The formerly visually nondescript wine department moved to the basement last year. Now it really is a cave, outfitted in granite and oak, with dégustations at the new wine bar, Balthazar.

Aisles of luxury foodsexquisite chocolates, biscuits, sauces, oils, vinegars, and more from all over the world—also include products not available anywhere else: Jamaican coffee beans from Bob Marley’s son’s plantation, candy “tennis balls” signed Maria Sharapova, skull-shaped bottles of vodka produced by Dan Akroyd.

It’s large, it’s lovely, and it’s hard to imagine leaving this temple of food empty handed.

What’s your favorite foodstuff at La Grande Epicerie?

Ithemba for Arts, Crafts, and Gifts

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Beneath the brick arches of the Promenade Plantée, a former railroad track turned garden path in the 12th, artisan showrooms showcase furniture, glasswork, textiles, and more. One of my favorite shops is Ithemba, a design collaborative with whimsical works and a social mission.

More than 60 artists design beads, lamps and lampshades; the pieces are then made by African women who have HIV/AIDS, and shipped to Paris for sale. Ithemba means “Hope” in Xhosa, one of 11 languages spoken in South Africa, where many of the crafts originate.

The items are beautiful and decorative: delicate filament decorated lightbulbs, embroidered lampshades, unique table lamps, chandeliers and sconces; beaded and rolled paper necklaces, feather-light earrings, papier mâché bowls, sculptures.

Items make great gifts, with plenty to please kids, and most are lightweight and easy to transport. And good design doesn’t mean high cost. Prices start at around 10€.

67, ave Daumesnil, 12th