Judging by the recent Paris Splurges thread in our Forums, we have some ace shoppers in our midst. From Provencal linens to rare handbags, here are some favorites as shared by the Fodorites on our Europe board—and with the euro at its present rate some might be less of a splurge than you think!
Fodorites’ Favorite Splurges
“I like to purchase a table linen made by Le Jacquard Francais. They are sold in the department stores such as Galleries Lafayette but there are also 2 shops that sell just these linens. I love them and use them a lot—they wash up really nicely.” –cls2paris
“For Provencal table linens at moderate prices, I suggest you look in the flower market stalls on Ile de la Cite near Notre Dame. I do not know the shop’s name but if you are wandering in the area, you should be able to see the stacks of brightly colored cloth from outside the shop. I had bought there eight years ago and found the place again without any trouble. This year I got a medium rectangle (table for 6) for 35 Euros—red poppies and lavender sprigs on a brilliant yellow background.” –kayd
Odile Gilbert Hair Pin
“Upstairs, I fall in love with the Odile Gilbert hair pin. A very simple little brass-toned thing, but as gracefully and ergonomically curved as a museum piece, and it holds up a twist or chignon with just the one single pin. What a lovely name too, conjuring two different swans. No price tag. I don’t expect anything upstairs at Colette to be cheap, but the salesgirl’s answer is about double my guess! I thank her and put it back, but downstairs before reaching the front door, all kinds of excuses and justification, some valid some lame, pop into my head: ‘haven’t shopped much on this trip; people easily spend more than this on a haircut or dinner; my apartment for the whole week is less than what cousin Z pays for one night at the Hyatt; the exchange rate is decent this week….’ Back upstairs to treat myself to the little splurge.” –MademoiselleFifi
Vintage Hermes Scarf
“My favorite splurge was a vintage Hermes scarf that I found on the Internet and tracked down as soon as my plane landed in Paris. It was ‘Les Perroquets’ (the parrots) and was 195E in 2007. I bought it at Les 3 Marches de Catherine B on rue Guisarde. It’s my favorite Hermes scarf because, well, parrots are the love of my life!” –theflock
“One of my favorite splurges actually cost very little at first. I love to find a piece of artwork when I travel—a basic watercolor or a pen and ink… when in paris I found a pair of sketches in one of those stalls along the river. They cost nothing and no doubt were hugely mass produced, but I loved them and because they were a bargain—maybe $10 apiece—I didn’t hesitate to snatch them up. Once home the splurge began… I debated the framing forever and finally let the framer talk me into a really beautiful frame that was more than I had planned on spending. When I went to pick them up I was floored. They were gorgeous and now hang in my family room and remind me daily of the trip, but also of that moment.” –motherofthree
“The one ‘favorite’ item would be a quilt I saw in a shop window in the 5th. I photographed the window and the next day I went back and bought the quilt. Now whenever I either look at the photo or the quilt on my bed it makes me happy. It was a little shop on rue Bucherie.” –isabel
A Clever Reproduction
“I didn’t actually buy anything in Paris but I did borrow something. I saw this wonderful painting in a window and couldn’t afford to buy it but I did take a photograph of it. I just finished drawing the same painting in charcoal and my husband framed it similar to the frame on the Paris painting. I love looking at it. Reminds me so much of the small street in the Marais.” –normal1983
“I have never had a splurge in Paris that I regretted. Last year it was a large 100% cashmere shawl—not a pashmina. The most beautiful color of teal at Le Bon Marché in St. Germain, which is a beautiful store, btw. These things are never planned for me; I will be in Paris in a month and hope to find something completely wonderful.” –JustineA
“We have bought two French antique posters at Galeries Documents on our trips to Paris. They are probably our favorite pieces of art in our house. Murielle can ship them home in a cardboard tube….I recall she did not even charge us for doing so. Our two posters were a bit of a splurge, but they will never wear out like a purse. (Although I do love to buy purses in Paris too!)” –glsebs
I love to bring back chocolates of all shapes and designs from Monsieur Michel Chaudun’s shop on Rue Universite. The péves never make it back home…too fragile…yum. –cornelius01
“Not a huge splurge – but the morning of the flight I went to a pastry shop and bought all kinds of breads, croissants, and pastries, put them in my carry-on, and with the time difference everyone at home got to enjoy the goodies that day and boy, it was heaven, not to mention very much appreciated by family and friends.” –niagaragal
Did Somebody Say Handbags?
“Mine is always handbags. Just got back from Paris last night and with three new handbags, one a gorgeous, red leather, Chloe, just hot in, and the other a greenish/blue sheen leather Francesco Biasia, tote-style handbag with black leather straps, and the third, one of those vibrant red Vanessa Bruno tote bags with the sparkly glitz around the handles and down the front and back seams.” –Guenmai
“For vintage bags, check out Catherine B on Rue Guissard in the 6th. Best selection of Hermes, LV, and Chanel. For LV fans, I am sure you are aware of the ‘made in USA’ tag on the bags here at home. Many a friend has been grateful for my Paris purchases.” –GoodLuckGirl
Pack Light and Ship Home
“Schnauzer–To get things home, we do one of two things. One, we pack really light…just a carryon only, and with lots of room in it. Last summer both DD and I had our bags packed with clothes for each day (no need to wear stuff twice) and each bag weighed only 17 pounds. So room for purchases! The other thing is if (ok, not if, but when) we buy too much we just use the postal system and send a box home. They have fairly large boxes and not that expensive, so we just ship it home. I hate to deal with checked baggage, so we opt for this. The boxes take only a week to get to the west coast USA.” –mms
Store hours can be tricky in Paris. Aside from department stores, which keep slightly longer hours and are usually open late one weeknight, shops tend to open around 10 or 11 am and close around 7 pm. It’s not unusual to find “back at 3” signs taped on the doors of smaller boutiques at lunchtime.
Plan to do most of your foraging between Tuesday and Saturday, as the majority of shops, including department stores, are closed Sunday and some on Monday as well. You can find areas—particularly Le Marais—where stores are open on Sunday. However, if you’re making a special trip somewhere, always call ahead to check hours.
How to Do Duty-free
A value-added tax (V.A.T.; T.V.A. in French) of approximately 19.6% is imposed on most consumer goods. Non–EU residents can reclaim part of this tax. To qualify for a refund, you must purchase €175 of goods in the same shop on the same day, you must have stayed three months or less in the EU at the time of purchase, and you must have your passport validated by customs within three months after the date of purchase. Ask for a détaxe form at the time of purchase; smaller stores will fill it out for you, department stores have special détaxe desks.
Bonus: And the Award for “Most Dedicated Shopper” Goes To…
“I planned a trip to Paris around the desire to buy a pair of Christian Louboutin stilettos during the summer sale season. I rented an apartment across the street from his rue de Grenelle store and shortly after arriving at the apt I headed to the shop. Rue de Grenelle is shoe heaven for women who love high heels.” –amwosu
Thinking about a trip to Paris?