Shopping in Paris
Paris has a great name for food, for fashion and for fine literature and if your aim is to find something chic and exquisite, you won’t be disappointed. It’s important to remember, though, that Paris is also a thriving cosmopolitan city that excels as much in international food, edgy fashion and modern art as it does in classic Chanel silhouettes. Don’t come expecting a bargain, though. Shopping in Paris is for the well-heeled rather than the bargain basement brigade.
Those who enjoy intimate, friendly boutiques should head for the Marais 4th arrondissement, whereas Rue des Francs-Bourgeois sells designer kitsch. The exclusive designer shops are in the 8th, enclosed in the golden triangle formed by avenue des Champs-Elysées, avenue Montaigne and rue François 1er and along rue du Faubourg St-Honoré.
There are a growing number of concept shops which bring together fashion, art and music all under one roof, including Colette, Surface to Air and the hip LE66 in the glamorous district of the Champs-Élysées.
Expensive antiques can be found at Le Louvre des Antiquaires, beside the Louvre Museum on place du Palais Royal. For bric-a-brac, there are the renowned weekend marchés aux puces (flea markets), including the Porte de Montreuil, 20th, and St-Ouen/Porte de Clignancourt.
For flavours from north Africa, head to the fresh fruit and veg market the Marché Barbès in Boulevard de la Chapelle in the 18th or for the more traditional French flavours of cheese and foie gras, visit Marché Beauvau in the 12th or Place Maubert in the 5th.
Paris has some legendary department stores. The oldest is Le Bon Marché on 24, rue de Sèvres, which opened in 1848. For a bit of relaxation, head to the Théâtre de la Beauté and for lunch, try the adjoining La Grande Épicerie. Other super department stores in Paris include Printemps and Galeries Lafayette found throughout the city.
Most shops in Paris are open Monday to Saturday 0900/1000-1900/2000 and close between about 1200 and 1430 for lunch. Many shops close completely for the month of August so if there’s a place you’ve set your heart on, double check before you travel.
If gold and glittery miniature Eiffel Towers is what you’ve always wanted, you’ve come to the right place. Street stalls line the pavements en route to this icon, selling every possible reincarnation of the metallic tower you could dream of. Mona Lisa tea towels, jigsaws and T-shirts are also in plentiful supply. For more upmarket souvenirs, there’s Chanel No 5 or a classic Chanel suit to pick up at the worldwide designer HQ.
Sales tax ranges from 5.21-16.38%, varying widely between what are regarded as essential items and luxury goods. Non-EU visitors can obtain a tax deduction of 12-13% on purchases of over €175 in any one day, by obtaining a form at the relevant shop and presenting it to customs on departure. Global Refund (www.globalrefund.com) can provide further information and advice.