Oh the Parisian dream! When I was little I wanted nothing more than a Haussmann-style apartment overlooking the Jardin du Luxembourg and to take my obscenely small dog for walks along the Seine. I envisaged my twenty-something self rolling around around on a Vespa with a fleeting love – à la Passport to Paris – and my thirty-something self sitting outside cafés reading Voltaire and Dumas.
Fast forward however many years it’s been since that seed was first planted and the reality is markedly different. I’m 23-years old, a glorified babysitter, and my beloved Paris is absolutely rinsing my bank account. My apartment is essentially a series of refurbished classrooms (with admittedly wonderful windows); I’m single; riding the festering, mouse infested metro everywhere and the greatest piece of literature I ever seem get my hands on is Stylist magazine. French taxes can suck a fat one. Contrary to my childhood expectations, I haven’t fully embraced the Parisian way of life and, contrary to popular French belief, my needs and desires cannot always be fulfilled by ceaseless banal bureaucracy. I’m an expat and I have needs goddammit! I have suspected gluten-intolerance and as such I can’t just pop to the bakery on the corner for a freshly baked baguette (insert whingy emoji here). Some days I want Marmite on my GF toast; sometimes I fancy a slice of Red Leicester rather than Comté, and for some occasions simply nowhere but Topshop will cut it.
If you find yourself, like me, in Paris and occasionally craving the British things in life, fear not! I have unintentionally taken it upon myself to seek out the hiding places of such products and to keep them all to myself would be selfish and disloyal. So whether it’s coffee or crisps, crop tops or creepers, read ahead for the answers to your prayers.
Back in November I was exploring the old shopping arcades in the 9th when my friends and I stumbled upon the most glorious sight. Across the road through the mist and rain stood Costa, in all its maroon glory, and gave us some well needed respite from the drizzle. Another time while wandering through the Pompidou Centre I was struck by a craving for a fruits of the forest hot chocolate. I checked Google maps and, lo and behold, there was a Costa right next door! Since these two occasions I’ve found further Costas at Châtelet, in the Latin Quarter and in the Quatre Temps shopping centre at La Défense, and that’s not even all of them!
Prêt à Manger
Don’t be fooled by the French name; ‘Prêt’ is British through and through. When you’re out on a mad spree in Quatre Temps or Galeries Lafayette and need a little pick me up, head over to one of the Prêt à Manger sites for a coffee, some soup, or a cheeky little can of sparking elderflower and grape juice.
Marks and Spencer
M&S is all over Paris like some not-so exotic rash picked up from across the Channel and yet everyone loves it. French locals and British expats alike flood the stores to stock up on baked beans, crumpets, curry sauces and actually half-edible gluten-free products. Lincolnshire sausages give me a little taste of home, while mature cheddar, fruity ciders and crunchy poppadoms provide essential luxury. Find them by Galeries Lafayette, by Gare Saint-Lazare, on the Champs-Élysées and at Beaugrenelle, amongst other places.
The moment I first spied the Topshop concession across the second floor of Galeries Lafayette was akin to love at first sight. I froze on the spot and caused a bottleneck at the top of an escalator, before slinking almost cautiously towards the sign. WHAT BEAUTIFUL SALES. What sweet beautiful sales and…holy shit…was that the original price in euros?
Need some bargain fashion with a UK flair? You’ll find New Look in Quatre Temps at La Défense, on Rue du Faubourg-Saint Antone in the 12th, and at Châtelet.
Lush and I embarked on something of a passionate whirlwind love affair last summer when I was at my wit’s end with adult acne. My stupid sensitive face can’t handle too many chemicals and, thanks to their super hydrating, gentle and anti-oxidising facial cleansers and moisturisers, we are now happily committed life partners. Lush have quite a few stores in Paris and you can find them by Hotel de Ville, inside Gare Saint-Lazare, with their spa in the Marais, and out in the Quatre Temps shopping centre at La Défense.
The Body Shop
Where better to stock up on delicious body butter and cruelty-free make up? Should you feel intimidated by Marionnaud and other French cosmetic chains, hunt down The Body Shop by Hôtel de Ville, at Saint-Michel or Bastille, amongst others, and delight in a few familiar comforts.
Le Sunken Chip
A British chippy in Paris? It cannot be?! It can, albeit without gravy or curry sauce. At Le Sunken Chip you’ll find authentic thick-cut chips, classic fish, battered sausage, mushy peas and popular British fizzy drinks. In addition to the permanent restaurant on the appropriately-named Rue des Vinaigriers (no. 39) in the 10th arrondissement, there is a van that pops up in different locations across the city to serve up fish and chips to expats and locals alike.
Whether you’re after a bag of Mini Eggs to see you through the Easter period or a copy of (heaven forbid) Cosmopolitan in English, head down to 248 Rue de Rivoli – just off Place de la Concorde – and you’ll find that your expatriate needs are met.
Shakespeare and Company
Okay so Shakespeare and co. isn’t strictly British, but for those times when you need a good piece of English or American literature, and you don’t fancy paying Amazon UK’s shipping costs or Amazon France’s taxes, it’ll be there for you. Besides, the staff are all native speakers! With its quirky oldy-worldy interior and gorgeous views of Notre Dame, it serves as the perfect place to attend a lecture on the philosophy of literature, or to simply peruse the shelves.
Monsoon & Accessorize (4th, 9th, 13th, 16th)
Laura Ashley (16th)
Tie Rack (Gare du Nord, 1st, 6th, plus many others)
Etam & Etam Lingerie (everywhere)
Habitat (1st, 9th, 15th)
Thomas Green’s (15th)
The English Shop (16th)
Yummy’s (Les Halles & Boulogne)
Épicerie anglaise (10th)
Fresh Food Village (16th)
If you know of any other stores or chains, feel free to leave a comment!