"Merci beaucoup," said the waiter at Mike & Anne's, a pleasant restaurant on Mission Street in South Pasadena, as my friend Allie and I finished our lattes and paid the bill. Allie had mentioned that there was a distinctive French theme to the shops and eateries in her neighborhood, but this seemed over-the-top. It was 11 a.m., already too late to get a pan au chocolat at the prepared-food shop and cafe Nicole's Gourmet Foods nearby (they usually sell out by 10), but it was the perfect time to start shopping for gifts. We started at Camille DePedrini, a special-occasion store with pricey but elegant accessories. Allie liked the black-lace gloves ($25) and an oversized, geometric print change purse, and I loved the jewel-colored clutches by Hoss, which had a playful elegance.
Moving down the street, we got some attitude from a bored-looking shopgirl at Angeli -- where they use euro symbols instead of dollar signs -- but we were both drawn to a green-and-black-plaid flannel tunic that would look perfect with a belt and black tights.
Allie remembered seeing some interesting T-shirts at Videothèque, a video store where her husband likes to discuss old British films with the owner, Mark Wright. We got one with Brigitte Bardot on the front and another with a drawing of the French New Wave actress Anna Karina and the words "Nouvelle Vague."
There are, of course, not-euro stores on Mission Street as well. At Puff Beauty Studio, the friendly all-American owner Aimee Jakes said she would happily pull together a gift basket of girly makeup and bath products around the theme of our choice.
Toward the western end of Mission's commercial strip, we stopped into Jean-Vier, which sells table linens based on the brightly colored stripes of the Basque region of France. I grabbed a rainbow-striped oilcloth apron (no stains!). The prices there were also marked in "euros." Maybe they should change the name of the town to Pasadena du Sud.
Nicole's Gourmet Foods, 921 Meridian Ave., Unit B, (626) 403-5751; Camille DePedrini, 1516 Mission St., (626) 441-7868; Angeli, 1030 Mission St., (626) 441-1004; Videothèque, 1005 Mission St., Suite B, (626) 403-6621; Puff Beauty Studio, 1005A Mission St., (626) 799-2864; Jean-Vier, 950 Mission St., (626) 381-9800.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times