Paris is one of the world’s top shopping destinations with over 25 million visitors a year. So what does Paris offer in terms of shopping opportunities?
Paris, the epicentre of haute couture shopping, has all the top names occupying select addresses along the avenue Montaigne, Champs-Elysées, Faubourg Saint-Honoré and rue Saint-Honoré, Place Vendôme and rue Royale. Even if you’re only window shopping, it’s fun to stroll past such bastions of designer labels as Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Lalique, Longchamps, Hermes, Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Versace.
Male fashionistas have their own shopping outlets in Paris, such as Madelios, near the Place de la Madeleine, which features such brands as Hugo Boss and Cerruti Jeans. Likewise, Le Printemps has a separate building devoted to menswear.
Paris Department Stores
You can get a cross-section of goods in Paris’s excellent department stores, such as Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps on boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement; Bon Marché, with its famous food store, in the 7th, and the BHV, across from the Hotel de Ville in the 1st. All have the latest in ready-to-wear fashions as well as household items.
Boutiques of Paris
Le Marais, Paris’s oldest district, where ancient buildings lean into cobbled streets, has an eclectic variety of little boutiques. Although Sunday shopping is largely prohibited in Paris (a regulation that is under review), it somehow carries on unnoticed in le Marais (mainly in the 4th), where, on often sombre Sundays, busy shops add welcome animation to such streets as Francs Bourgeois and to the newly fashionable Canal St-Martin district in Paris’s 10th arrondissement. Here, branché (trendy) boutiques around the quays (Valmy and Jemmapes) and side streets also evade Sunday closings.
Paris’s Famous Left Bank
Across the Seine in Paris’s celebrated Left Bank, boulevard Saint Germain is the thoroughfare for shopping, sipping coffee, strolling and people-watching – all favorite Paris pastimes. As well as the boulevard itself, its side streets – rue Four and rue des Saints-Pères – and the streets around St Sulpice church are full of little boutiques selling such items as daring lingerie and garishly embroidered designer handbags.
Parisian markets are an attraction in themselves. They are reminiscent of the traditional form of country commerce, where vendors shout their wares to passers-by. These wares range from farm-produced cheeses at Marché Couvert Monge in the Latin Quarter to arts and crafts at Marché Parisien de la Création near Gare Montparnasse.
Shopping for Paris Souvenirs
For a stylish memento of your stay in Paris, the museum boutiques, which sell art cards, prints and classy trinkets, are worth a browse.
The Paris Arcades
On rainy days, the glass-covered passages of Paris are a delightful legacy of the early 19th century. Originally constructed to protect Paris shoppers from wet weather, they still do today, housing luxury goods and boutiques. Among the most charming of the remaining Paris arcades are the Grand-Cerf at 145 rue Saint-Denis with its designer boutiques, and the galleries Colbert and Vivienne at 16 rue des Petits-Champs, renowned for book collections and haute couture.
Helpful Information for Shopping in Paris
Opening hours in Paris are 9 or 9.30 to 6 or 7 pm. Department stores usually stay open late one night a week. Boutiques open later in the mornings at around 10 or 11am. Most shops are closed on Sundays, although Sunday shopping is prevalent in le Marais and around the quays of Canal St-Martin.
Annual sales run from around mid-January to late February and offer huge discounts and bargains in June and July.