Shopping in Paris

Table of Contents

January is the sales time. Paris being the capital of the world fashion, everyone feels obliged to bring few new clothes from the fashion center. Perhaps, if you are in Paris for the first time, you might need some hints on where to go shopping. So, shopping in Paris!

Designer brands

France is the birthplace of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. A lot of people tend to bring home from France these well-known brands. As you know, demand creates supply, so there are a lot of designer shops in Paris. Of course, on Champs Elysees or Galeries Lafayette you will find boutiques of famous brands, but for really exclusive things you should go to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

Mass brand

You will find more seasonable prices in Rue Rivoli shops or on Champs Elysees. Here you will find omnipresent Zara and Minelli, and brands that are not known abroad. And if you want something special but do not have large sums of money, then you absolutely should go to Rue du Bac. There are shops of beginners and unknown designers, however, often truly worthwhile things may be found there.

Shopping centers

Everyone knows the Galeries Lafayette but it is not the only big store in Paris. The main Galeries Lafayette rival is Le Printemps, which is in walking distance to the Galeries.

And if you do not want to be knocked down by crowds of tourists, we advise you to recover the store Le Bon Marché. Le Bon Marché is the oldest Paris shopping center, located in the 7th arrondissement. Emile Zola dedicated his novel ” Ladies’ happiness” to this store.

Outlets

In Paris suburbs there is a village called La Vallée Village. Why village? Because each brand has its own house with the shop inside. The village has now some streets, and it is constantly expanding. Any time of year you can find there clothes with 70% discounts because shops sell last season collections.

Tax Free

Remember to ask sellers if they offer Tax Free when you buy branded clothes. You may get a refund of the value-added tax. Almost all international brands provide Tax Free.

What do Paris sales please tourists with?

Every woman knows that Paris is the capital of the world fashion, and dreams to visit once at least this city for the sake of treasured shopping. Certainly, Paris is not any small town, and the prices in this city can unpleasantly surprise the domestic woman of fashion; but after New York boutiques there is nothing to be surprised with. In the turn the capital of France (its shops) pleases all Parisians and city visitors with the global sales which are made two times a year: in the beginning of summer and after Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Duration of these sales makes about one and a half months so hundred thousand people have time to get qualitative things at comprehensible prices.

Thus you shouldn’t think the earlier you arrive the most favorable prices are. It is connected with the fact that any Parisian sale consists of several stages. Each of them is characterized by the next falling of the prices which becomes the lowest by liquidation of all rests of the goods available in shops. It is natural that to find something good during such moment is not obviously possible no more.

If to speak about inhabitants of Paris, they begin preparation for the sales season long before its approach. And the most of these people make serious purchases exclusively on seasonal sales, and in the rest of the year visit just food shops.

Before the beginning of the sales local women slowly study the clothes and footwear models offered by the shops next to the house and shopping centers, try on what has attracted them. And when long-awaited day-X comes, from early morning (as well as thousand tourists coming to Paris from different countries) are pushed in turns to rush to counters and to seize in advance chosen things with opening of doors.

If you plan tours to Paris taking into account seasonal sales remember that all best things of the popular sizes in the Parisian shops are bought up in the first week after «a starting whistle».

Let’s consider what represents the Parisian sales. Shops aspire to sell quickly old collections of clothes and footwear before the new will arrive. For this reason the price decreases till the extreme size that transforms any woman of fashion into a bull on bullfight who with mad passion rushes on the toreador. With one exception: the place of the toreador is turned to jackets, skirts, T-shirts, trousers and other products, to catch which it is possible for ridiculous money. But, let inscriptions «Soldes» or «-50 %, – 70 %» won’t lead you to your mind loss as any seller does it for the sake of own benefit. Very often the products which have stale on counters which quality already leaves much to be desired are on sale at the low price . And the prices, basically, can actually be not that low; so don’t be surprised if in the end of shopping your purse will considerably “grow thin”. Also, don’t forget that the shoes got on sales, boots, jackets and blouses aren’t subject to return, therefore pay steadfast attention to quality of bought things.

The summer season of sales in the Parisian shops has already ended, there is no much time left before the start of the winter sales. We hope that if you appear in Paris at this time you will make good purchases.

Avenue Montaigne – the most fashionable street in Paris

We would like to start our article from the question addressed to all people who have been in Paris. Please, tell. What street in Paris do you consider the most well-dressed? Everyone, of course, may respond differently, because, as you know, everybody has the own taste. But if you trust the opinion of many tourists and residents of the French capital, so the honorary title of most colorful street of the city belongs to Avenue Montaigne.

This wonderful Parisian street stretches from the Square of Rond-Point to the famous bridge Alma. On the whole route of the Avenue you’ll see why it has been given the title actually. And frankly speaking everything is more than simple, because there a large number of the most famous boutiques, jewelry and perfume shops are concentrated here. Devoted to this subject people will be pleased to meet products of such brands as Christian Dior, Bulgari, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Emmanuel Ungaro, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Valentino and many more no less symbolic names for the connoisseurs. So we can say that Avenue Montaigne is a mecca for the real dandies and ladies, because here they have the opportunity to learn about the latest collections of the best fashion masters of the world.

Along with some sights of Paris, boutiques on Montaigne are not empty at any time of the year, so many people wish to come here in an effort to acquire for themselves a particle of the world of high fashion or just gawk at luxury showcases of boutiques.

But not only boutiques made Avenue Montaigne known in the world. The famous Champs-Elysees Theatre (or as the locals call “Theatre des Champs-Elysees”) is on this street. It was built in 1913 by the famous architects of that time – Gustav and Auguste Perret and a master from Belgium Henry van de Velde. The reliefs on facade of the building were created by the hand of Antoine Bourdelle. Inside the building you will not go by the magnificent panneau of genius Maurice Denis.

Formerly the premier of the opera of composer Stravinsky “The Rite of Spring” was performed at this theater. The regular “Russian Seasons” of Diaghilev were also here.

The museum is located opposite the famous Hotel Plaza Athenee, where the doormen always have the majestic and proud look, and it does not matter what kind of guests they meet. No wonder, because their predecessors met at the door the great and powerful people of this world.

As we said before, the end of the Avenue is the Square of Alma (place d’Alma), form its other hand the underground tunnel along the Seine River starts. This tunnel is notorious, the British Princess Diana died here on August 31, 1997. The square has its own distinctive features what you will never find in other similar places Paris.

Generally, if you’re already in Paris, stroll along Avenue Montaigne to the Square of Alma. And believe, you will definitely get a lot of wonderful impressions.

Printemps Haussmann

Paris today attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world not only for its numerous monuments, museums and art galleries. Many travelers come to Paris with totally different purposes, for other emotions and experiences. As previously Eiffel Tower, Louvre or Arc de Triomphe were the centers of attraction of guests of the city, so today the real sights had become Parisian stores and boutiques. In this respect modern Paris is a real mecca for the vast number of fashionable ladies and dandies. And the word “shopping” has become one of the synonyms of this wonderful city.

Samaritaine, Galeries Lafayettes, Bon Marche… These names are known to everyone who came to Paris for shopping. In this article we want to say a few words about no less famous Parisian store Printemps Haussmann.

Department store Printemps is one of the most famous stores in the capital of France where you can find almost all «fashion» products from the leading manufacturers. Here fashion and beauty, home decor… In a word, all the latest fashion trends are presented in one place. And its name – Printemps.

This shopping center was founded in 1865 by businessman Jules Jaluzot and had still remained popular among hundreds of thousands of customers. And its famous dome and facade of the building are included in the list of historical monuments of Paris.

Modern Printemps – three separate buildings with twenty five floors, occupying an area of more than 44 thousand square meters. The range of products in this department store consists of one million names, representing more than three hundred famous brands.

The leading companies of the world of fashion industry consider it an honour to have their own boutiques in Printemps Haussmann, what only confirms the level of the store and respect of buyers.

Trendy clothes, famous perfumes and cosmetics, accessories, lingerie, children’s goods, home and interior goods, products for sports and travel – only a small part of what you can buy here.

Besides shopping you can spend your time with pleasure in one of many cafes or restaurants. For your convenience the department store Printemps offers such services as shopping-tour with a personal guide-interpreter and delivery of purchases to your Paris apartments. In principle, everything has been done here that customer to feel comfortable as much as possible and leave the store with only pleasant experiences.

Address of Printemps Haussmann: 64, Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris.

Le Bon Marche

Despite the attempts of Milan and London, Paris was and remains the fashion capital. Everyone knows that Paris is the style and entourage law-maker; however, very few people know that Paris once was as well the innovator in sale rules. The modern culture of shopping was generated here. It is possible to do purchases, being dipped into shine and luxury and also to study history of modern trade in Paris.

The first Paris department store Le Bon Marche has been created under the project of Gustave Eiffel in 1852. The name “bon marche” is sometimes wrongly translated as “cheap”. And though the department store concept assumed in due time sale of the goods under lower prices, today Le Bon Marché is not the cheapest shop.

One of the meanings of “bon marche” is “the successful deal”. Today it seems improbable, but in the first French department store it was accepted to bargain. It was here for the first time when price lists on the goods and the fixed prices appeared; because of great volumes of trade the need for price discussion between the seller and the buyer has gradually disappeared. Here for the first time there were seasonal sales which make customers of all world go nuts.

Then, in the end of the XIX-th century, being surrounded by the abundance of luxury in a huge, by measures of that time, shop, female customers often sinned with larceny, using the magnificent skirts to hide the stolen goods. And it is not sophisticated, after all Le Bon Marche is a present kingdom of the goods and services.

Nowadays it is possible to find practically everything here. From perfumery, cosmetics, bags and hats located on the ground floor, to the goods for children, animals, house ware, and special design departments and so on. On the last floor there is a completely not modern and rare department “everything for needlework”, also there is a wedding salon and an excellent department of antiques that is not typical for today’s department stores.

And the grocery department – also exclusively rich – is not in this building. It is situated in a separate «Big grocery», located on the other side of the road. La Grande Epicerie is a present find for gourmets. There is an opinion among Parisians that if you cannot find something here it is possible that this product does not exist in the nature.

However, despite all variety of the offered goods Le Bon Marche is not overcrowded. And even during the sales season of there are practically no tourists. Or maybe the shop is just so huge…?

Planning having a walk on the left bank of the Seine after visiting Champ de Mars, Les Invalides and Jardin du Luxembourg take some time and visit Le Bon Marche. By the way it is the only decent shop on the left bank.

The department store works on weekdays 09:30-19:00, on Thursday 10:00-21:00, on Saturday 09:30-20:00. Grocery department La Grande Epicerie works from Monday to Saturday 08:30-21:00.

The address: 24 rue de Sèvres, 7th district.

La Vallee Village

For some people Paris is a pilgrimage to the interesting places like museums or monuments of architecture, but for others, first of all, it’s shopping. And this is not surprising, because during long time this city, along with Milan, is the world trendsetter. Every year millions of tourists from different corners of our planet come to the French capital to buy fashion clothes, perfumes and other accessories, as “bought in Paris” is very fashionable and prestigious.

There is no doubt that among the lovers of Parisian shopping there are the real “professionals” who know all its details and features, the most popular and famous places… But there are travelers for whom a trip to Paris is the first in the life, and they need help.

In Paris there are many places of concentration of trendy boutiques, such as Boulevard Haussmann with its legendary Galeries Lafayette, Champs Elysees, rue Saint-Honoré and others. However, that are the most widely promoted and expensive areas of Paris and the prices here are also very high, which may be unacceptable to many buyers.

At the same time there is a place where the same things from the same manufacturers are cheaper. Just because the shops are located a little farther from the downtown. It’s called La Vallee Village and located outside Paris. But if you want to save, is 20 extra miles the distance?

Here many collections of the famous brands are available in three times cheaper than in Paris boutiques, and during the seasonal sales the prices fall by 50 percent.

The question “where is this paradise for shoppers?” seems more than logical. The answer is simple: less than an hour from the center of Paris by public transport. You can go for your shopping on the train (from the station Auber (Boulevard Haussmann) and Etoile (Arc de Triomphe) to the station Val d’Europe/Serris-Montevrain or by Cityrama bus from the city center.

When you come to La Vallee Village, you are greeted by a huge shopping mall with many shops. But do not indulge in the euphoria, please be a little patience and go forward. And less than ten minutes later you find yourself on the street, which will change your idea of shopping in Paris once and forever.

On a quiet and light street the beautiful two-storey houses will appear in front of you. These are the hundreds of boutiques of the fashion world-wide known brands. Shops of Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Cacharel, Celine, Cerrutii, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, Kenzo, Max Mara, Missoni, Paul Smith, S. T. Dupont, Salvatore Ferragamo, D & G, Zadig & Voltaire, Pinko, Diezel, La Perla and many other brands open their doors for you. At the same time there is a big contrast with the bustling Paris, without any hustle and queues. Everything is done for the maximum comfort of clients.

To say once again about what you can buy here is nonsensical. Absolutely everyone (fashionista, a respected retired person or teenager) will find here something special.

Cheap wear in Paris in winter and summer

Do you want to visit Paris not only to see its magnificent monuments but also to make quality and good buy? In this case, you do not need plan a trip for the season sales (especially, when it’s not possible always). You should know that there are many places in Paris where you can buy nice cheap wear and accessories all the year round.

Now we’re talking about so-called stock and discount stores in Paris. You should not think that they offer their customers not best-selling goods. These trading places offer for sale the remains of the last year’s season or trial lots of wear and footwear of known brands, goods «degriffe» with torn labels. This affects to the quality of goods in no way, but their cost is lower than the original price by 30 – 70 percent. And you’ll find a lot of these shops, but what is most importantly – look closely at shop windows and sign-boards. The word «stock» will say that you have found a store you need.

One of the largest stock shop is located in the heart of the French capital on 190, Rue de Rivoli. It offers its customers cheap wear mid-price bracket: Zadig & Voltaire, GAP, Naf Naf; as well as the products of such famous design houses like Dior and Nina Ricci.

If you are a true connoisseur of trendy goods you have to go to the 14th district of Paris to rue d’Alesia. Here you will find a large number of discount stores, including the shops of well-known companies like Sonia Rykiel, Cacharel, Amazone, Chavignon, George Rech. Moreover, here you can buy not only ladies’ and men’s wear, but interesting goods for children.

The another area of stock shops is not far from the rue d’Alesia – on rue St-Placide. The most popular of them is Le mouton a 5 Pattes, which sells children’s and adult wear and footwear and household goods. Look closely the things that are in baskets, where wear of such well-known designer brands like Gaultier and Ferre can be pelted.

Concerning specialized men’s stores we can mark out Bidermann Stock B (located on rue 114, Turenne) – suits, shirts, jumpers, sweaters by Kenzo, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and many other famous brands.

The women of Paris loves to visit a children’s discount store chain Bonpoint (rue 6, Tournon (6th district) and others) – cheap fashion wear and shoes for little boys and girls.

Of course, the stock stores have an important shortcoming – very, very many of goods. Customers have to spend a lot of time selecting a purchase. However, your patience may be rewarded with a pleasant surprise. So, you can see on rack or shelf an excellent evening dress or fashion jeans of a famous brand for purely symbolic value. And be sure to try on wear at discount stores, as the size on a label does not match the actual size of things often.

Going to Paris markets

Markets in Paris have a very rich history, the first of them began to appear in the city in a distant fifth century after Christ, when Paris was a village and had a little-known today name – Lutetium. The first known market was called Palud.

As years, decades and centuries passed, the city of Paris had grown. People could see more and more markets, and in the middle of the nineteenth century more than fifty markets existed. Today the capital of France has around a hundred of such places, each of them has its own distinctive features in goods and of course in the target audience. In principle, everyone who visits the Paris markets will find something that has interest for, you just have to choose the right market. Generally, the markets of Paris – these are the places where you can find everything if you want it… from the hessian boots of Napoleon to a parrot from a Mayan homeland. So, let’s detail some of them.

Marché Richard Lenoir. All districts of Paris have their own markets, which locals call the “flying” markets, because they appear spontaneously on the streets several times a week (and then disappear to reappear again) and are an accumulation of hundreds of stalls and tents offering customers a wide assortment of edibles, from the fresh fish, ending with the excellent sorts of French wine. Visit this market in the morning of Thursdays and Sundays. Its address: Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, 75011.

Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen – market located at Porte de Clignancourt, and it is open from Friday to Sunday. The length of its shopping malls is striking and not less than seventeen miles. This is the biggest “flea” market in Paris, and for those shoppers for whom a fashionable word “vintage” is not an empty phrase – this is a true paradise. The local merchants offer the old newspapers and books, jewelry, “reclaimed” from the aristocracy during the numerous revolutions furniture, clothes and all sorts of other ancient “gadgets”. Do not be surprised if you’ll find standing near the counter a couturier from the fashion house of Versace (well, or any other) – now there is a tendency to find an inspiration in antiquity. The only disadvantage of the market is its extremely high prices, the status of a tourist sight helps much.

Marché les Enfants Rouges (address: Rue de Bretagne, 75003). The market with a long history, besides the first covered market in Paris. It was opened (even shudder to think) in 1628. Now it is interesting because here you can buy ready-made meals and ingredients of any cuisine of the world. The market does not work on Monday.

Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux (located at Place Louis-Lepine, 75004). The market has over two hundred years of activity and its direction is the trade of birds and flowers. Here even the most fastidious customer will find everything that associated with this topic. This is one of the last Parisian markets of this kind. We recommend you visit it because the famous Notre Dame Cathedral (also known as Notre-Dame de Paris) is very close, so you’ll “kill two birds.” In addition, the market works during all the week.

Marché Saint-Pierre (location: Rue Charles Nodier, 75,018) has more than sixty years history and is notable with its textiles. Here you can meet different customers like simple housewives, choosing the material for the dress of their daughters the graduation prom or already mentioned above “cool” couturiers (whatever one may say, Paris is the capital of world fashion). And if you can’t find a suitable textile in the shops of your city, believe, here you will find it. Recommended!

To compile a complete list with descriptions of places such as Paris markets we probably need to write a whole book and even then something will be forgotten. But we hope that this short article will help you to navigate a little in Paris markets.

Paris and souvenirs

Agree, that finding yourself in Paris, it is impossible not to bring at least a few souvenirs for yourself, family and friends from this magnificent city. And, of course, we always want to buy something original and preferably not expensive.

In fact, in the center of Paris (as in any other popular touristic city) close to the most popular sights such as Notre Dame, the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, you can always buy all kinds of magnets, trinket, shirts, mugs with symbols of Paris. And if you’re willing to satisfy your travel hunger by these products, we advise not to rush and buy them in crowded places of the capital of France. Large Parisian shops offer souvenirs more cheaply than the street vendors. The most low prices are offered by numerous souvenir shops in Montmartre near the Place du Tertre and the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. Here you will find a variety of lithographs and greeting cards with pictures of sights in Paris.

If you are looking for more interesting and original gifts, be sure that you will find them. In Paris there are plenty of shops selling all kinds of gifts that can bring pleasure even to the real connoisseurs.

So, on 186, Rue de Rivoli the shop La Dame Blanche, famous for its magnificent porcelain and faience products, whose beauty can affect any imagination, is located. Other store Diners en Villes (27, rue de Varenne) is known for a wide selection of table accessories – perfect gifts for any hostess.

Naturally, the trip to Paris without visiting its museums will be absolutely useless, so, being in any museum, do not go by the museum shops. Believe us, along with the usual standard products you can find very exclusive gifts. That can be calendars, books or wonderful reproductions, dedicated to the museum’s masterpieces. Also some art museum sell “Puzzles” which you can make a copy of the famous painting from.

Tourists like very much scarves with prints of famous water lilies by Monet or “starry night” by Van Gogh (Orangerie Museum, Orsay), beautiful jewelry with the symbol of the royal power in France – lilies (Versailles Palace). Historical museum of Carnavalet offers its visitors not only the city guides but also copies of ancient vases, goblets, wine glasses.

Do not forget, that a good gift from Paris could be tastefully decorated local delicacies, wine or cognac in bottles in form of the Eiffel Tower, beautifully packaged tea sets, candy or foie gras.

In any way, you can always buy interesting presents and not to spend a lot of money. The main thing is a creative strategy.

Wonderland of books – Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Co

There is no doubt that among numerous tourists there are those who are interested in unique books and want to buy them for personal collection. Now we would like to say a few words about the legendary Parisian bookstore called Shakespeare & Co, located near famous Notre Dame on the bank of the Seine.

Despite the fact that Shakespeare & Co is a bookstore, it can be call as a real book club, where many lovers of literature from different parts of the world like to gather together for personal contacts. Here you can always find a fresh (just from a printing establishment) editions of modern authors, old and rare books.

Shakespeare and Co was established thanks to acquaintance of two remarkable people – American publisher Sylvia Beach and the owner of Parisian literary salon Adrienne Monnier. Women met in 1917 and the English-language bookstore “Shakespeare and Company” was opened for customers two years later.

The store became particularly popular due to a combination of two functions. It is a shop and library at the same time, and its main principle is the slogan “while you’re here, take books and read as you want”. Also people can take books and read them at home.

It is noteworthy that “Shakespeare & Company” was popular not only among usual fans of literature, but also among such great representatives of writers’ workshop like Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Valery, Bernard Shaw, Anais Nin, Andre Gide.

In its nearly century-long history the store had as many glorious moments as not the most pleasant, because often it existed only thanks to donations from friends of Sylvia Beach. However, “Shakespeare & Company” continues to delight fans of the book in our days.

“Shakespeare & Co” address: 37 rue de la Bucherie, Paris.