Shopping in Paris
Oh, Paris! Is there anything you don't have? Your culture sings, your nightlife thrives, and your restaurants tantalize. And the Paris, France shops... Locals and travelers alike are bedazzled by the seemingly infinite opportunities for shopping in Paris. But where are the best shopping opportunities in Paris?
Fashion Shopping in Paris
King Louis XIV is largely responsible for making France one of Europe's top fashion hotbeds in the seventeenth century, and that trend continues today. Eager fashion shoppers flock to Paris to take advantage of the city's prominent fashion status. One necessary stop is the Saint-Honoré fashion district in the Louvre-Tuileries neighborhood. Easy to get to from the metro, shopping for clothes here is truly an adventure. The well-known Versace and Yves Saint Laurent call this area home, while up-and-coming trendy shops are constantly sprouting up. And while you're in the area, check out Boulevard Haussmann which is only a few blocks away. This area is known for its numerous "grands magasins" or department stores, featuring heaps of men's and women's clothing, jewelry, and perfumes for the fashion-conscious shopper. The storied Printemps department store at 64 Blvd. Haussmann is one of the most prime examples of this type of shopping in Paris.
Budget Shopping in Paris
For those seeing Paris on a budget, the glitz and glamour of Saint-Honoré and Boulevard Haussmann may not provide many buying opportunities. But fear not, for Paris has a time-honored tradition of revering the open-air and flea markets throughout the city. While those with an overflowing wallet (or a large credit rating) take to the fancy, your average person is browsing the stalls of street vendors for deals on antiques, shoes, clothing, and the occasional oddity.
There are numerous markets ripe for budget shopping in Paris, but don't be surprised if they don't seem as beautiful as Boulevard Haussmann's shops. Many of the more prominent flea markets and open-air markets are on the outskirts, away from the famous monuments and tourist attractions. But don't let that dissuade you from going. There are three major Paris flea markets on the outskirts of Paris, with many other smaller markets scattered throughout the city. Porte de Vanves, Puces de Porte de Montreuil, and Puces de Saint Ouen all make for excellent bargain shopping, especially for those willing to arrive early in the morning. But be sure to leave your camera and other valuable positions behind as these markets tend to get busy, making potential hangouts for the less reputable. Also, don't be afraid to haggle with the stall keepers: it's not unusual to get a slightly lower price using social finesse.
Finally, the folks over at DiscoverFrance.net maintain an exceptional list of covered and open-air markets in Paris. They conveniently include the closest Metro stop to each market, making your budget shopping in Paris even easier. The stall owners are typically friendly and helpful, and the variety of items is impressive. The majority are open early in the morning into the early afternoon, though some open up specifically for those shoppers who like to do their Paris shopping in the evening.
Photo by Maciej Zgadzaj, from Flickr