With Christmas just around the corner, shops are busier than ever as the search for that perfect present begins. Easier said than done! Why not book a quick break away, and you’ll pick up unique gifts that will delight your friends and family, plus you’ll get a few days to soak up the festive spirit in foreign climes – or escape the frenzy if it’s not really your thing. Either way, you’re sure to find plenty of fantastic Christmas goodies in these top 5 cities for Christmas shopping…
Whatever you’re looking to fill stockings with this year, Paris is sure to have it. Haute couture? Tick! Head for Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Trendy boutiques and antique shops? Tick! Look no further than Le Marais. Big brands and department stores? Tick! Hit the Champs-Elysées and Boulevard Haussmann. Foodie treats such as cheese, bread, meats and wine? Tick! Follow your nose to Les Halles and Rue de Rivoli. Paris also hosts a number of special winter markets which are perfect for picking up regional delicacies and beautiful arts and crafts; Noisy le Grand Christmas Market is one of its best, offering a magical festive atmosphere for young and old, with hand-crafted wooden toys, traditional glassware and horse-drawn carriages just waiting to be wrapped up for Christmas.
Marrakech’s maze of souks is a winner if you’re after a unique and exotic stocking filler. From multi-coloured spices and stained-glass lanterns to intricate jewellery and high quality leather goods, you will find stall after stall of crafts, foodstuffs and souvenirs to put a smile on anyone’s face. Be prepared for a bit of haggling and you never know, you may even be invited for an impromptu mint tea (thé a la menthe) if you linger long enough. Rip up your shopping list and go with the flow – not knowing what you might find is all part of the magic here.
You can’t help but get caught up in the festive spirit in the Big Apple. It’s great for shopping any time of year, but pre-Christmas it’s a fairytale of twinkling lights, extravagantly decorated trees, roasted chestnut sellers and an appropriate chill in the air for wrapping up and feeling snug. Browse the elaborate department store window displays (Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are a must), pick up some novel gifts at holiday markets such as the Grand Central Holiday Fair or the Holiday Shopping Market in Union Square, and top it all off with ice skating at Central Park. It’s just like in the movies, but better.
Italy’s always a winner when it comes to shopping, so why not head straight to its most stylish city and bag yourself some real Christmas treats. At any time of year Milan is a shopper’s paradise, with a wonderful variety of shops and boutiques selling haute couture, antiques, furniture, home accessories and more. In the run-up to Christmas, Milan really gets into the festive spirit, with many shops staying open on a Sunday and Christmas fairs such as the ‘Oh Bei, Oh Bei’ market near the castle, and the craft fair of L’Artigiano in Fiera, tempting you with their magnificent array of artisan goods and unique gifts.
Munich is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Think Christmas markets, mulled wine, crafts, sweets, cakes, twinkling trees and cosy bars. The most famous of its markets is the Christkindlmarkt at the Marienplat, open until Christmas Eve, where eating and drinking are as much a part of the experience as is shopping for people back home. Munich is heaven for shoppers away from the markets too, its shops combining international brands and designer goods with traditional Bavarian crafts. Wood carvings (Holzschnitzereien), pewter-ware (Zinn), traditional clothing (Trachten) and the famous Nymphenburg porcelain all make gifts unlike no others – plus you get to soak up all the culture and entertainment that the Bavarian capital has to offer, too.
Cactus offers language courses in more than 20 languages and 120 destinations worldwide. We also run our own language courses in the UK, which are the ideal way to learn the basics or brush up on previous language knowledge before a holiday or business trip abroad.