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 once and for all, 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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Alexandre Reza

  • Jewelry/Accessories

One of Paris's most exclusive jewelers, Alexandre Reza is first and foremost a gemologist. He travels the world looking for the finest...

Anouschka

  • Clothing

Anouschka has set up shop in her apartment (by appointment only, Monday to Saturday) and has rack upon rack of vintage clothing dating...

Au Printemps

  • Department Stores

A retail institution, Au Printemps is actually made up of three major stores: Printemps Maison (with home furnishings on four refurbished...

Chanel Jewelry

  • Jewelry/Accessories

Chanel Jewelry feeds off the iconic design elements of the pearl-draped designer: witness the quilting (reimagined for gold rings), camellias...

Charvet

  • Clothing

The Parisian equivalent of a Savile Row tailor, Charvet is a conservative, aristocratic institution. It's famed for made-to-measure shirts,...

Christofle

  • Household Items/Furniture

Founded in 1830, Christofle has fulfilled all kinds of silver wishes, from a silver service for the Orient Express to a gigantic silver...

Dinh Van

  • Jewelry/Accessories

Just around the corner from Place Vendôme's titan jewelers, Dinh Van thumbs its nose at in-your-face opulence. The look here is refreshingly...

Eric Bompard

  • Clothing

Eric Bompard provides stylish Parisians with luxury cashmeres in every color, style, and weight; yarns range from light as a feather...

Erès

  • Clothing

Erès revolutionized the bathing suit in the free-spirited '60s. Engineered to move freely with the body, these ingenious cuts liberated...

Fauchon

  • Food/Candy

The most iconic of Parisian food stores is expanding globally, but its flagship is still behind the Madeleine church. Established in...

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