Paris Shopping

Nothing, but nothing, can push you into the current of Parisian life faster than a few hours of shopping. Follow the lead of locals, who slow to a crawl as their eyes lock on a tempting display. Window-shopping is one of this city's greatest spectator sports; the French call it lèche-vitrine—literally, "licking the windows"—which is fitting because many of the displays look good enough

to eat.

Store owners here play to sophisticated audiences with voracious appetites for everything from spangly flagship stores to minimalist boutiques to under-the-radar spots in 19th-century glass-roofed passages. Parisians know that shopping isn't about the kill, it's about the chase: walking down cobblestone streets looking for items they didn't know they wanted, they're casual yet quick to pounce. They like being seduced by a clever display and relish the performance elements of browsing. Watching them shop can be almost as much fun as shopping yourself.

And nowhere is the infamous Parisian "attitude" more palpable than in the realm of fine shopping—the more haute the more hauteur.

Parisians are a proud bunch, and they value decorum. So dress to impress—and remember your manners. You must say bonjour upon entering a shop and merci, au revoir when leaving, even if it's to no one in particular. Think of it more as announcing your coming and going. Beyond this, protocol becomes less prescribed and more a matter of good judgment. If a salesperson is hovering, there's a reason; let him or her help you. To avoid icy stares, confidence and politeness go a long way.

As for what to buy, the sky's the limit in terms of choices. If your funds aren't limitless, however, take comfort in knowing that treasures can be found on a budget. And if you do decide to indulge, what better place to make that once-in-a-blue-moon splurge? When you get home and friends ask where you got those to-die-for shoes, with a shrug you'll casually say, "These? Oh . . . I bought them in Paris."

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Paris Shopping

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Village St-Paul

  • Antiques/Collectibles

This clutch of streets, in the beautiful historic netherworld tucked between the fringes of the Marais and the banks of the Seine, has...

Vintage Clothing Paris

  • Clothing

It's worth a detour to the Marais's outer limits to visit Vintage Clothing Paris, where the racks read like an A-list of designer greats—Yves...

Viveka Bergström

  • Jewelry/Accessories

Viveka Bergström leads the ranks of designers who thumb their noses at the pretensions of traditional costume jewelry—these baubles...

W. H. Smith

  • Books/Stationery

This bookseller carries a multitude of travel and language books, cookbooks, plus fiction for adults and children. It also has the best...

Yohji Yamamoto

  • Clothing

A master of the drape, fold, and twist, Yohji Yamamoto made his name in the 1980s. The design legend favors predominantly black clothes...

Yves Gratas

  • Jewelry/Accessories

With a knack for pairing gems of varying sizes, brilliance, and texture, Yves Gratas allows each stone to influence the design. Whether...

Zadig & Voltaire

  • Clothing

Zadig & Voltaire rocks the young fashionistas by offering street wear at its best: racy camisoles, cashmere sweaters in gorgeous...

Zadig & Voltaire Stock

  • Clothing

Here you'll find new unsold stock from last season. There's a great selection of beautiful cashmere sweaters, silk slip dresses, rocker...

Zuber

  • Antiques/Collectibles

Have you always wanted to imitate the grand homes of Paris? Here's your chance. Zuber has operated nonstop for more than two centuries...

À la Mère de Famille

  • Food/Candy

This enchanting shop is well versed in French regional specialties as well as old-fashioned bonbons, chocolates, marzipan, and more.

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