There is entertainment at some of Paris’s flea markets!
(Photo By: Benjamin Bousquet)
Shopaholic’s Guide to Paris
Paris is the city for those of us who like to shop ’til we drop! If you equate shopping in Paris to be exclusive to haute couture fashion or fine wines, get that thought out of your head. Paris has shopping for absolutely everybody, including those with wealth beyond the rest of our imaginations and those on a budget. I could spend an entire trip to Paris shopping, which actually sounds like great fun, so let’s go shopping in Paris!
Why You MUST Shop in Paris
I’m serious when I say you could vacation in Paris for the shopping alone. It’s completely insane! Paris truly is a shopaholic’s dream come true and their significant other’s nightmare! Paris is one of Europe’s gems when it comes to fine art, amazing food, chic decor, and fashion, but you probably don’t need me to tell you that. It is this combination of goods, however, that placed Paris on the map and has kept it there for a very long time.
You see, shopping isn’t just souvenirs. Sure, you have to pick up a bunch of useless tchotchkes for your family members and friends. Seeing how the locals shop, though, is an entry into life in the particular place you are visiting, in this case, Paris. To understand Parisians truly, you must understand how they shop and that, my friends, goes way beyond fine art, food, décor, and fashion!
Paris is an artistic and whimsical city, and there are many wonderful artistic and whimsical things to discover when shopping there. The city is filled with shopping districts lined with countless shops, each with their own specific clientele and story to tell. You really do need to plan a vacation strictly based on shopping to see everything there is to Parisian shopping, because you won’t thoroughly understand the city’s charm unless you go deep inside it and shop.
So, let’s talk about the different shopping districts within Paris and the absolute must-see shops they house, so you can pick which ones appeal the most to you – although I strongly recommend seeing them all. Let’s take a quick tour of the Parisian shopping districts to get you familiar with your territory.
Do you have a passion for fashion? If so, the Faubourg Saint-Honore shopping district, tucked nicely inside the Louvre-Tuileries neighborhood is perfect for you. Fashion’s finest, including Hermes and Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace for us Italians, have shops along this trendy corridor, as does premiere concept retailer Colette, which houses everything from bizarre clothing, to electronics, to some serious bling! The best of the best in fashion, cosmetics, and home furnishings can be found in this downtown corridor. So, if you’re looking for some haute couture to wear to your next big event, this is the district where you can get it!
Avenue Montaigne/Avenue de Champs-Elysees
If your favorite in fashion design doesn’t have a shop in the Faubourg Saint-Honore district, he or she probably has a shop here. This shopping district in France also boasts some top designer fashion, chain stores Parisians cannot live without, and most shops are open on Sunday to boot! Fashion giants Chanel and Dior have shops along the Avenue Montaigne, while Louis Vuitton sells its designer goods on Avenue de Champs-Elysees. Send your significant other to get a macaroon at the famous Laduree; it’ll sweeten him up before you show him the shopping bill!
We’re in Paris, so we are not done with fashion! The Saint-Germain-des-Pres shopping district used to be a popular hangout for famous intellectuals, many of whom spent hours at the local cafes. Now, Sonia Rykiel and Paco Rabanne have boutiques along this historic corridor, and if you’re looking for a department store, check out Le Bon Marche, which carries just about everything you can think of, including amazing gourmet food that you simply must sample! If you are more into books and unique collectibles, check out Rue Saint-Andres des Arts. It not only carries books and unique gifts, it also has some vintage clothing.
Looking for something a little more eclectic, unique, and affordable? Then head on over to The Marais quarter. The Marais quarter is a historic district in Paris that houses some of the finest antiques and art in town. It also has numerous fashion boutiques of the more eclectic variety, and jewelry is taken to new boundaries as an art form in the numerous jewelry shops along the Marais. Some shops are expensive; others offer the perfect inexpensive Paris souvenirs for all of your family and friends. You just need to take your time and check all the little boutiques out!
If department stores are your thing, and even if they aren’t, you have to go to Paris’s department store district on Boulevard Haussmann. Seriously, even if you aren’t into department stores, you have to see the ones in Paris. These stores are an entity, a community, unto themselves. They have everything under the sun from typical department store fare that we are used to here in the U.S., to art supplies, gourmet food, and hardware! Yes! You can send your man to the department store to get his tool fix while you continue to blow money at Chanel! Two department stores of note on this famous Boulevard are the Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps.
Flea Market District
There is no such thing as a shopping frenzy without a flea market or two, and the Paris Flea Market district will not disappoint. Paris’s largest flea market, the Saint-Ouen Flea Market has been around since the 19th century. I told you Paris has been famous for its shopping for a very long time! You’ll find that this time-trusted friend to all shopaholics is located on the north side of the city, and you will seriously need at least half a day to see everything it has to offer! If you want to spend a little less time flea marketing, Paris is home to several smaller flea markets, as well.
As you can see, I was serious. Paris is a shopaholic’s dream come true. Whether you are looking for the fine, the eclectic, the chic, the classic, the quirky, you will find it in Paris. It doesn’t matter what it is! The City of Light has everything for everybody, so dust off your passport, book your flight and hotel, and get shopping!