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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  • Fodor's Choice

A.P.C.

  • Clothing

A.P.C. may be antiflash and minimal, but a knowing eye can always pick out its jeans in a crowd. The clothes here are rigorously well...

Adelline

  • Jewelry/Accessories

Entering this jewelry shop is like landing in Ali Baba's cave: each piece is more gorgeous than the last, and the bounty of beautiful...

Agatha

  • Jewelry/Accessories

This chain is the perfect place to buy a moderately priced piece of fun jewelry. Agatha's line of earrings, rings, hair accessories,...

Alexandra Sojfer

  • Jewelry/Accessories

The proprietress of this legendary little store is the queen of walking sticks (the late president François Mitterrand bought his here).

Alexandre Biaggi

  • Household Items/Furniture

Alexandre Biaggi specializes in 20th-century Art Deco and also commissions pieces from such talented designers as Patrick Naggar and...

Alice à Paris

  • Clothing

Look for inventive, stylish, affordable and, above all, kid-proof clothing at Alice à Paris. These adorable outfits, for children from...

Antik Batik

  • Clothing

It's hard to resist Antik Batik's wonderful line of ethnically inspired clothes. There are rows of beaded and sequined dresses, Chinese...

Arthus-Bertrand

  • Jewelry/Accessories

Dating back to 1803, Arthus-Bertrand has glass showcases full of designer jewelry and numerous objects to celebrate births. ...

Avril Gau

  • Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

After designing a dozen collections for Chanel, Gau struck out on her own, opening her neo-Baroque boutique on the charming Rue des Quatre...

Boulevard Raspail

  • Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

The city's major marché biologique, or organic market, is on Boulevard Raspail between Rue du Cherche-Midi and Rue de Rennes. Bursting...

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