Shopping in Paris is very much a function of what you are looking for. Especially when it comes to fashion shopping, the sheer number of shops, boutiques and clothing stores can be overwhelming if you don't have a strong sense of your personal preferences.
Paris is arguably the reigning fashion capital of the world while New York city leads the way as the fashion industry's business capital (both fiercely disputed, with Milan as the strongest challenger). What these cities all have in common is a dizzying variety of styles and fashions to choose from.
In each instance, you want to be able to look around and even let yourself be swayed by the great variety of offerings. However, with opportunities to shop virtually at your fingertips everywhere you turn, it doesn't hurt to know the most efficient ways and best places to shop for what you're really after.
On the following video, journalist Monisha Rajesh talks about key areas to check out when shopping in Paris.
Below the video, I transcribe those areas in chronological order to help those who don't speak French identify them by name. I also give additional info you can use as your basic shopping in Paris guide.
A 6ème Arrondissement street with lots of stylish shops -many reasonably priced- stretching from Montparnasse to Saint-Germain-Des-Prés. It is one of the major shopping streets in Paris, with innovative and designer boutiques next to retail chain stores. Parisians also know it for its high concentration of shoe stores.
Metro: Saint-Germain Des Prés
A multilevel shopping center in the center of Paris (1er Arrondissement). It is full of all kinds of shops and is reminiscent of American malls but often with distinctively Parisian or European styles. It is also very crowded as it shares this central location with one of Paris busiest metro hubs, as well as the Centre Georges Pompidou next door (Museum of Modern Art and Public Library). The entire surrounding area offers yet more shops, boutiques and diverse fashion outlets.
Metro: Les Halles
RER: Châtelet-Les Halles
Speaking of size, if you like the mega-shopping experience, you will love Les Quatre Temps, the mammoth shopping center in La Défense district on the western outer-skirt of Paris. Not so long ago, it was Europe's largest, so go prepared to explore a wide array of shops when you enter the Grande Arche. Price-wise some of the best deals you'll get shopping in Paris are often found here. This place should quench even the most serious shopaholics.
Metro: Grande Arche de la Défense
Along with its adjacent 8ème Arrondissement street Rue du Faubourg St Honoré, what you will find here is more upscale, starting with the iconic Colette. More than a store, Colette is a all-in-one experience out to redefine the meaning of luxury shopping. All your senses will be catered to, if you have a purse to match, of course. On the same stretch or near this trend-setter, you'll find other highly recognizable brand names from D&G to John Galliano, Prada to Yves Saint Laurent, as well as other legendary trend-setter Chanel.
Metro: Concorde or Tuileries
This is another major Paris shopping hub not mentioned in the video but in the same vein, and even more so than the preceding. High-end is definitely the operative word here.
Just a stone's throw from the Champs Elysées, this is the height of Paris 8ème Arrondissement luxury located in the heart of the Triangle d'Or (Golden Triangle), the city's most expensive turf delineated by the Champs Elysées, George V and Montaigne avenues.
This is a sampler of some of the prestigious names you'll find here: Armani, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Emanuel Ungaro, Versace, Louis Vuitton, etc., etc. You get the picture; It'll set you way back!
This is a 2ème Arrondissement neighborhood full of authenticity and trendy shops and boutiques.
Historically, this is the area where Paris world famous Haute Couture used to have its goods manufactured. Ateliers of yesteryear have given way to fabric stores and stylish fashion outlets proposing unique design styles or eclectic assortments of articles. Truth be told, the fashion industry still feeds here.
You might also like the area's central square, the elegant Place Des Victoires lined with storefronts including those of designers like Chanel as well as Kenzo just nearby. The area's web of tiny streets and covered passageways, some turned into exquisite galeries like Galerie Vivienne will pull you in, and not just for shelter.
But for the best deals, keep walking eastbound to explore Rue Saint Denis and its discount imported fashion stores. The neighborhood as a whole has a distinctive yet authentic Paris feel, with boutique shopping on the one hand, and within a mile, world renowned department stores Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps on the other. Talk about a shopper's paradise!
It doesn't get much more "with it" than this Paris neighborhood known for its cutting edge tendencies. Interestingly, it hasn't always been that way. Le Marais actually only emerged in the past two or three decades as the hip area it is today when the artsy forward-thinking crowd descended upon it.
Le Marais is decidedly eclectic and has an anything-goes appeal to it. Paris vintage chic meets here. New and second-hand men and women apparel, footwear and eye-catching accessories will keep you busy at every turn. Due to its location, layout and ambiance, this is also a great destination to combine hanging-out and leisurely shopping. Every stop here is a different experience.
Use Place des Vosges, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue des Rosiers as your marks but plan on spending several hours walking around and exploring the uniqueness of each shop on the many narrow streets; That is if you don't get seduced by the cozy cafés and enticing bakeries first!
Shopping in Paris is infinite. This is merely to point you in the right direction as it is pointless to try to cover it all. There are many other areas of interest well worth a visit, like Boulevard Saint Germain and Boulevard Saint Michel in the Quartier Latin, or La Bastille area just to name a few. Flee markets, especially the one at Porte de Clignancourt which offers everything including rare antiques, are a major attraction in their own rights.
Unless shopping in Paris is the reason for your entire trip, and you have endless time to devote to it, you will probably have to make a few choices. Cheers and Happy shopping in Paris!
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