Heading to Paris?
We have never been to Paris; but our close friend Jeannie, who lives in Paris, assures us we would love it there. We have a feeling she’s right. Paris always seems like a fun and exciting place.
Jeannie has been kind enough to let us borrow her article about shopping in Paris. It was originally published in 2013 on Jeannie’s atelier website; but her shop has gone offline for now. So she’s loaning us the article to share with you here for the time being.
If you’re planning to do some shopping in Paris this summer, here’s Jeannie’s Paris shopping guide.
Shopping in Paris – Where to go…
Top Paris Shopping Districts & Boutiques, Department Stores, Flea Markets, Budget Shops and Gourmets Shops – By Jeannie
In case you don’t know this, twice a year, in winter and summer, all of Paris becomes enmeshed in city-wide sales (sales, in French, is “soldes,” btw). During these city-wide soldes, many stores mark down their merchandise sometimes as much as 80%!
So, where are the best places to shop in Paris whether during the sales periods, or throughout the year? The answer is a matter of opinion, of course. We will highlight the top Paris shopping districts according to us; and note the best boutiques, flea markets, gourmet shops and more to get everything from the coolest bags, wristlets and designer shoes to chocolate, couture dresses and pillows. We will give you addresses and metro stops and sometimes even telephone numbers if we have these at our disposal.
But first, a word about Paris
Paris, the City of Lights, is synonymous with fashion, gourmet foods, top designers and fine luxury. The undisputed capital of savoir faire, it is the place that coined the term “French flair” which is synonymous with all things charming, luxurious and of a certain fine quality. Paris is an old world European city replete with grand boulevards and grand magasins, haute couture houses, auction houses and fine jewelry shops and charming boutiques. Indeed, people come from all over the world to shop in Paris at its various magasins, ateliers and specialty shops. There really are too many of these to mention and just because a particular enterprise does not make our list does not mean it is not tout a fait awesome.
If are you still reading this, you are probably hungry for information on where to shop in Paris and you are wishing I would just get to the point as you are disinclined to listen to a history lesson on what makes Paris Paris – you already know all that stuff. What you are interested to know is where are the grand magasins and largest department stores in Paris? Where are the trendy boutiques? Where can you find the most famous flea markets? Where can you find the best gourmet shops and couture houses? Where are the best deals? Here is a list we compiled just for you and it comes from our own research from places like Frommers, Fodors, Girls Guide to Paris and a bunch of other places:
Shopping Districts in Paris
1. Rue de Faubourg Saint Honore, Louvre Tuileries; Place Vendome
This is for you if you have beaucoup d’argent. In this district you will find all the high end brands and couture shops like Chanel, Boucheron, Dior and Colette, Baccarat, Balenciaga, Fauchon, Givenchy, Hermès, Louis Vuitton. As if this is not enough stimulation, you can mozy on over to the Champs Elysees from here and maybe even make your way down to Avenue Montaigne for even more jaw dropping and exclusive shops and boutiques. You can also check out Chanel’s flagship store on Rue Cambon where she used to live in a apartment upstairs. (Sorry this apartment is not open to the public.)
Getting there: Metro: Concorde, Tuileries (Line 1), Pyramides (Line 7, 14), Alma Marceau (Line 9), Franklin D. Roosevelt (Lines 1 and 9), George V (Line 1), RER A (Charles de Gaulle-Etoile)
Main streets: Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Rue Cambon, Rue de Rivoli, Rue Saint-Honoré, Rue de la Paix, Place Vendome, Avenue Montaigne, Champs Elysees.
2. Montmartre and Pigalle
Most people probably don’t consider Montmartre as the “chicest” Parisian shopping district. They make the mistake of thinking that Montmartre and Pigalle are just the old stomping ground of long dead French artists and literary characters like Latrec and George Sand. Well, Montmartre is its history, sure. But there is so much up here as far as boutiques and other stores that it would literally be heresy not to check it out. Montmarte, the “Butte” of Paris is definitely cool; and it definitely has a hipster vibe that appeals to artists and budding musicians. Tourist really flock up the hill to find souvenirs in the souvenir shops especially near Sacre Coeur. So it is a tourist trap of sorts. But there are tons of cool boutiques down these narrow unassuming streets. Get off at Metro Abbess or Anvers and wander away from Sacre Coeur and you are bound to find some rather cool boutiques with equally cool lines. Make sure to check out Rue Lepic. If you are inclined to purchase your own raw materials so you can make your own cool designs when you get home, definitely check out Reine and Marche St. Pierre which are internationally renowned grand magasins of fabrics. Stores in this area are Chine Machine, Princesse Tam-Tam, Spree, Isabelle Marant.
Getting There: MetroLines 2, 4, 12
Main Streets: Rue Lepic, Rue des Abbesses, Rue des Trois Frères and Rue des Martyrs.
3. The Marais
The Marais is cool personified.
This is the third arondissement in Paris and the home of gay Paris where everything is uber cool especially jewelry and antiques. There are a lot of Asian wholesalers here too, selling a dizzying array of accessories. Near the Pompidou, on Beaubourg, you will find some Asian inspired fashions in many boutiques run by pretty dolls from the Orient and if you get hungry, you can find a lot of noodle places as well. This is the 3rd and 4th arondissement of Paris. Here you will find shops like Azzedine Alaïa, Bijoux Blues, Bonpoint, Les Mots à la Bouche, Merci.
Getting there: Metro Saint-Paul (Line 1) or Hotel de Ville (Line 1, 11) and (Lines 3 and 4)
Main Streets: Rue Francs Bourgeois, Places des Vosges and Rue de Turenne
4. Boulevard Haussmann
There really isn’t much here except for Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps. Well, okay, maybe those are a LOT. These are universes unto themselves -two of Paris’s two oldest and most renowned department stores and you absolutely must check them out if you are in Paris. This is around the 9th or 10th arondissements. This is the area called Opera since is is where you will find the Paris opera house – a nice treat as well for evening entertainment.
Getting there: Metro Havre-Caumartin (Line 3 or 9), Opera (Lines 3, 7, 8)
Main streets: Boulevard Haussmann
5. St. Germain de Pres
This area of Paris, the sixth arondissement, was traditionally a literary hot spot for French and American intellectuals like Sartre, Stein and Hemingway hung out at Cafe Flore and Les Deux Magots. The key streets are Cherche Midi, Rue des Sevres, St. Andre Des Arts, Boulevard St. Germain and Rue Grenelle. These are chic and cher and some argue it rivals Rue Faubourg St. Honore and Avenue Montaigne. You can judge for yourself but many well-heeled women and suave men can be found in the traditional brasseries and cafes and the fashions and prices are on the high end, although you can definitely find some cool discounted deals. Chloe, Kenzo, Lacroix, Carroll, and Sonia Rykiel to name a few. At the tip of Boulevard St Germain, you will find probably the very oldest Parisian department store, Le Bon Marche.
Getting there: Metro Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Line 4), Sèvres-Babylone (Line 10)
Main streets: Blvd. St.-Germain, Rue St. André-des-Arts, Rue de Sèvres
6. Les Halles, Rivoli
Les Halles district is really old Paris with a lot of history. It is walking distance from rue de Rivoli which is walking distance from Place Vendome. At Les Halles you have a mindblowing maze of underground malls and this is near the Marais district so you can walk from one to the other if you have juice left in your legs after doing the underground malls at Les Halles. But you may want to take the Metro over to Rivoli instead. This is near the Louvre Museum and Place Vendome and all those treats. In this area you will find Carrousel du Louvre, Cartier, Chanel, W. H. Smith (this is a really cool bookstore that you absolutely must check out) and more.
Getting there: Metro: Line 1 , line 4, RER A and B
Main Streets: Rue Cambon Rue de Rivoli
8. Latin Quarter – Shopping in the Latin Quarter in Paris is definitely an adventure. The area is historic, young and cool. Most of the shopping here is really about eating and cafe terraces, fast food creperies and other such eating joints. But across Boulevard St. Michel is St; Germain de Pres and Boulevard St; Germain actually intersects Boulevard St; Michel and so you can indeed find some high end brands like Dior, Yves St. Laurent and Prada here.
Getting here: See St. Germain
Flea Markets in Paris
Paris is just as famous for its flea markets as it is for luxe shopping. This is where you find the odd bargains, antiques and vintage steals. The following are the three best known:
1. Marche St Ouen
2. Marche Aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves
3. Marche Aux Puces de Montreuil
Getting there: Metro Porte de Clingancourt (Line 4) or Garibaldi (Line 13)
Wholesale Districts in Paris
Getting there: Metro Line 3
Budget Shopping in Paris
Fabrics & Merceries in Paris
1. Marche St. Pierre
(See Montmartre for how to get there by Metro)
Popular Stores and Brands in Paris
1. Le Bon Marche
3. Shakespeare &company
4. Forum Les Halles
5. Le Petite Robe Noire
7. Hotel Drouot
10. Galleries Lafayette
11. Le Printemps
Shopping Malls in Paris
1. Carousel du Louvre
Getting there: Metro Line 1 Louvre Rivoli
2. Champs Elysees Shopping Mall
Getting there: Champs Elysees Clemenceau (line 1 and 13), Franklin Roosevelt (line 1 and 9), George V (line 1) and Etoile (line 1, 6, 2)
3. Les Quarte Temps Shopping Mall
Getting there: RER A to La Defense