Think Paris, and what instantly comes to mind is couture. But Paris has a lot more to offer in terms of shopping than sartorial revelations. Here’s a definitive guide to buying things that are quintessentially ‘Paris’.
Do make it a point to visit Paris during the sale season held in early January and July, and enjoy shopping for clothing and accessories at rates slashed anywhere between 30% to 50%.
First things first – you are in Paris. Of course, it does get sweeter if your trip happens to be sponsored by someone else. Even if it’s not, consider your Paris outing as a divine gift that you are gifting yourself.
There are many dimensions to a singular trip to Paris, solely because of the endless options the city has on offer. From its artsy-uppity glamor, to its chic-novel finesse, Paris never fails to intimidate, mesmerize, and embrace at the same time.
So, after you’ve taken a stroll down the super-chic and super-expensive Champs-Elysees/Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré/Avenue Montaigne, clicked a whole lot of pictures, get right out of there, and down to the actual task of shopping in Paris. Take notes, my friend. Take notes.
Must Buys in Paris
To begin with, do you seriously see any point in buying certain things in Paris that are available all around the world, and maybe even on websites? It’s a shame, isn’t it, especially when Paris offers you so much more than a bottle of Chanel No. 5 or a Fendi clutch. So, step off the high streets and join me as we unveil the other side of la belle ville de Paris…
Get the basics out of the way first. You simply have to buy berets in every possible color and the unbeatable Eiffel Tower mementos for everyone back home. You can find these all over Paris, especially around the touristy places (think Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc., etc.)
If you are an art enthusiast, or know someone who is, do make a point to visit Magasin Sennelier at 3 Quai Voltaire 75007 Paris. Doesn’t matter if you actually pick up anything from here, but remember that this is the very place Pablo Picasso bought his supplies from. Also, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh were known users of Sennelier products.
Goumanyat at 3 rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 Paris is the place from where you buy your French herbs and spices from; saffron in particular. Big names from the French culinary world come here to shop, so you know what’s in store for you here at Goumanyat.
Paris’ 5th arrondissement is home to the delightful bookstore that goes by the name of Shakespeare and Company at 37 rue de la Bûcherie. The original one visited by the likes of Hemingway may have closed down, but this one too is replete with history. Don’t forget to get your book stamped from the store to have a fantastic personal souvenir.
Street vendors in Paris peddle wares that range from fake Rolexes to fake Louis Vuitton bags selling for as low as 30€. Excellent gifts for someone you dislike!
G. Detou at 58 rue Tiquetonne 75002 Paris, is a food lover’s idea of heaven. So whether you love to eat or you love to feed, come to G. Detou, because they have the best of everything under one roof. Chocolates, candied fruit, teas, Dijon mustard, dry fruit… and all of these in massive packs, for those of you who like to shop in bulk.
If you’re the type who likes to rummage for all things with a vintage touch, go visit the little stalls that dot the Left Bank. Get everything from classic postcards, to wartime brooches, to quirky accessories right here.
Vintage clothing hunters should come to Le Marais and find Kilo-Shop, a place that sells clothes by the kilo. That’s 35€/kilo, to be precise. You’ll find endless rows of blouses, shirts, skirts, trousers, dresses, jackets, blazers, cargos, shorts, and many other you-name-its. Find Kilo-Shop at 69-71 rue de la Verrerie 75004 Paris.
On similar lines, if you’re looking for some designer steals (who isn’t?), you have to pay a visit to the Catherine Max store, 17 avenue Raymond Poincaré 75116 Paris. This store has all things high-end, all things luxury, and all of these very things at rates slashed up to 70%. Yes. Premium clothing for women, men, and children, along with accessories and home décor items at ridiculously cheap prices. Although, it is recommended that you visit their website for membership details before you venture to shop here.
And finally, do not forget to shop at the place where Parisians shop. La rue du Commerce, across the Champ de Mars gardens on the border of the 7th and 15th arrondissement is where the locals come for their dose of retail therapy. Don’t be disheartened by the Zara and H&M stores at the beginning of the street, though. Keep walking further to find some delightful little French boutiques and galeries that sell some one-of-a-kind wares. Make a visit to this street, and you’ll know why Galeries Lafayette is packed with tourists and not locals.
If you thought Paris was meant for the loaded lot, you couldn’t be more wrong. However, having said that, Paris definitely is an unending treasure trove of delights for the moneyed lot. But hey, there’s no need to be disheartened if your name doesn’t end with a ‘Moneybags’. Paris does have a heart, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.