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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  • 1. Alexander McQueen


    The Paris flagship of this lauded label, whose global fame only skyrocketed with the design of the duchess of Cambridge's wedding gown, is glorious to behold. The late McQueen's hallmarks—tons of lace, gossamer fabrics, tartans, death's heads, and voluminous silhouettes—are all lavishly on display. But, while staying true to McQueen's vision, creative director Sarah Burton isn't as intent on pushing the boundaries as she is on creating her own magic in lavish gowns and dramatic ready-to-wear attire. Shoes, accessories, and surprisingly affordable jewelry to go with the garments are available as well.

    275 rue Saint-Honoré, Paris, Île-de-France, 75008, France
  • 2. Amalthéa

    Marais Quarter

    There's nothing more luxurious for your face, body, and hair than these 100% natural, organic, and chemical-free beauty products. This beautiful, understated boutique in the Haut Marais is the perfect place for the kinds of beauty products that get results. Forget the multiple cleansers, creams, and serums, this four-step no-nonsense beauty regime delivers radiant skin in a matter of weeks. All products are refillable and the boutique ships to its many fans overseas.

    39 rue des Gravilliers, Paris, Île-de-France, 75003, France
  • 3. Artefact

    Marais Quarter

    Tea lovers will adore this art-centric tea boutique and salon set in a 17th-century stone building in the upper Marais, near the Centre Pompidou. In contrast to the behemoth sellers—Mariage Frères, Palais des Thés, and Dammann Frères—who focus on quantity over quality, this shop's hand-selected varieties come from surprising places around the world (oolong from Georgia, anyone?) and small artisanal producers. The friendly owners, a husband-and-wife team, love to share their extensive knowledge, and a tasting flight of four pots in the adorable tearoom is a delight. Upstairs is reserved for artists' books and limited-edition artworks. There's also a tempting array of handmade porcelain teaware.

    23 rue des Blancs Manteaux, Paris, Île-de-France, 75003, France
  • 4. Bonpoint


    Stroll through the vast ground floor of this high-end children's clothing store, located inside a 17th-century mansion, and you'll feel like royalty on a private visit to a friend's estate which happens to have beautiful clothing for babies and children on display. The rooms wrap around a large, private garden and helpful salespeople will assist in finding the perfect gift.

    6 rue de Tournon, Paris, Île-de-France, 75006, France
  • 5. Bonpoint


    Outfit the prince or princess in your life at Bonpoint (yes, royalty does shop here). The prices are high, but the quality is exceptional, and the adorable miniduds couldn't be more stylish: picture a perfect hand-smocked Liberty-print dress, a velvety lambskin vest, or a double-breasted cashmere sweater for Little Lord Fauntleroy. The Avenue Raymond Poincaré boutique is one of more than a dozen citywide.

    64 av. Raymond Poincaré, Paris, Île-de-France, 75016, France
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  • 6. Buly 1803


    Although it only opened in 2014, you can be forgiven for thinking Buly 1803 is an antique apothecary—those jars overflowing with exotic herbs, powders, and elixirs are used to recreate 200-year-old recipes for the all-natural skin-care line. Delicious-smelling hand, body, and face products come in scents like rose and Scottish moss. All the products are organic, beautifully packaged, and impossibly chic.

    6 rue Bonaparte and in Le Bon Marché, Paris, Île-de-France, 75006, France
  • 7. By Marie

    Grands Boulevards

    At her multibrand concept store, jewelry designer and general fashionista-about-town Marie Gas does the work for you, mixing designers you already know and love (Spalwart, Ulla Johnson) with French and European créateurs that you definitely want to know (and will love). Browse a seasonal collection of everything from ready-to-wear to jewelry, leather goods, perfume, and design objects for the home.

    44 rue Étienne Marcel, Paris, Île-de-France, 75002, France
  • 8. Carré Rive Gauche


    Head to the streets between Rue du Bac, Rue de l'Université, Rue de Lille, and Rue des Saints-Pères to unearth museum-quality pieces. The more than 100 shops in this association of galleries and antiques dealers are marked with a small, blue square banner on their storefronts.

    Between St-Germain-des-Prés and Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Île-de-France, 75006, France
  • 9. Céline


    Phoebe Philo, who defined this bohemian-chic label for a decade, single-handedly redefined the codes of fashion for professional women, garnering a huge and fiercely loyal following for her streamlined, minimal designs, featuring flowing pants, long, unstructured jackets, and the Cabas bag. All heads turned when bad boy Hedi Slimane, who left Saint Laurent in 2016 after rocking the label to its core, was tapped to fill Philo's comfy shoes. After his first season's glittery minis tanked, Slimane did an about-face, channeling a bourgeois art-house look that felt distinctly Parisian. Now, he's relegated the sultry looks to evening and sells tailored blouses and contoured jackets that are singularly sexy.

    53 av. Montaigne, Paris, Île-de-France, 75008, France
  • 10. Centre Commercial

    Canal St-Martin

    This store's A-list fashion credentials come with a big bonus—everything here is ethically and ecologically sourced. Peruse racks of men's and women's wear from handpicked European and U.S. labels, then head to the stellar shoe department to complete your look. Beneath glass skylights as clear as your conscience, you'll also find a fine selection of natural candles, leather goods, and jewelry. The kids' store just around the corner ( 22 rue Yves Toudic) is one of the city's best, with toys, decor, and color-coordinated togs that express canal-side cool.

    2 rue de Marseille, Paris, Île-de-France, 75010, France
  • 11. Chanel


    Elegant, modern looks with sex appeal and lasting value are Chanel's stock-in-trade. Although the spectacularly beautiful Avenue Montaigne flagship takes shoppers' breath away, the heart of this revered fashion house is still the boutique at 31 rue Cambon, where Chanel once perched high up on the mirrored staircase watching audience reactions to her collection debuts. Great investments include all of Coco's favorites: the perfectly tailored suit, a lean soigné dress, or a quilted bag with a gold chain. Handbags, jewelry, shoes, and accessories are all found at the fabulous 42 avenue Montaigne boutique, opposite the flagship store.

    51 av. Montaigne, Paris, Île-de-France, 75008, France
  • 12. Christian Louboutin


    It seems the world's romance with heels so high they're potentially lethal will never end, thanks in no small part to the king of the iconic red-soled stiletto. Louboutin artfully weaves fantasy, glamour, and good cheeky fun into his towering heels, which have graced red carpets and the gangways of private jets. But you can also find more prudent models, including kitten-heeled mules and spiky sneakers, as well as chic and functional bags and a selection of lipsticks and nail polish that blend right in with your soles. His new, 3,000-square-foot boutique—done up in Louboutin red, of course—offers three floors of pure fetishistic pleasure.

    400 rue St-Honoré, Paris, Île-de-France, 75001, France
  • 13. Cire Trudon


    The candles made by Cire Trudon have illuminated the great palaces and churches of Paris since the 1600s. Nowadays their products provide the atmosphere for tony restaurants and exclusive soirées. The all-vegetal, atmospherically scented wares come in elegant black glass, pillars of all sizes, or busts of clients past—like Napoléon and Marie-Antoinette.

    78 rue de Seine, Paris, Île-de-France, 75006, France
  • 14. Comptoirs Bourdonnais

    Eiffel Tower

    A stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower, this boutique does all the work for you, with a handpicked collection of standout clothing and accessories from the best smaller French and European labels like Diega, Pomandere, Absolut Cashmere, Chloë Stora, Apuntob, C.T. Plage, and much more. It's an excellent one-stop shop for immediate Parisian chic.

    41 av. de la Bourdonnais, Paris, Île-de-France, 75007, France
  • 15. Des Gateaux et du Pain Claire Damon


    After working with Pierre Hermé and at top palace hotels, Claire Damon opened her own pastry shop that translates to "Cakes and Bread", a simple name that downplays her artistic sophistication. Descended from a long line of accomplished chefs, Damon understands that the best results are produced with the finest ingredients. Her exquisite pastries and breads, made with carefully acquired, often organic ingredients are mouthwatering works of art. The individual fruit tarts are almost too beautiful to eat, but you'll be glad you did.

    89 rue du Bac, Paris, Île-de-France, 75007, France
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  • 16. Design et Nature

    Grands Boulevards

    Harking back to the Victorian era, when every chic household had a stuffed bird or small mammal, this outstanding cabinet of curiosities mixes jewel-like butterflies and insects with astonishing specimens of wild animals, including giraffes, lions and tigers, polar bears, antelopes, zebras, and exquisite birds (all of the animals died of natural causes in zoos). More comical or whimsical pieces include pastel-colored chickens, winged monkeys or mice, and the Poe chandelier, complete with a raven. All items come with certification for easy export and can be shipped anywhere.

    4 rue d'Aboukir, Paris, Île-de-France, 75002, France
  • 17. Deyrolle


    This wonderful 19th-century taxidermist has long been a stop for curiosity seekers. A 2008 fire destroyed what was left of the original shop, but it has been lavishly restored and remains a cabinet of curiosities par excellence. Create your own box of butterflies or metallic beetles from scores of bug-filled drawers or just enjoy the menagerie that includes stuffed zebras, monkeys, lions, bears, and more. Also in stock: collectible shells, corals, and crustaceans, plus a generous library of books and posters that once graced every French schoolroom. There is a line of decorative wallpaper murals, too.

    46 rue du Bac, Paris, Île-de-France, 75007, France
  • 18. Dior


    Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior's first female designer for a label that's traditionally defined the feminine, has quickly made the House of Dior thoroughly her own. Her feminist perspective—which brings together the glamour, high style, and comfort women of all ages really want, instead of a fantastical notion best-suited for models—has transformed the house of Dior, raising it to one of the most exciting Parisian designer brands in the city, not to mention the most profitable. Furthermore, the reopening of Dior's refurbished Avenue Montaigne flagship store ushered in a new benchmark for Paris boutiques. Covering more than 105,000 square feet, this pearl of a flagship brings together haute couture and ready-to-wear items, beauty, and menswear, along with a restaurant (Monsieur Dior) and pastry shop (by chef Jean Imbert of the Plaza Athénée), three gardens, guest suites, and a superb gallery space bound to rival the Musée Yves Saint Laurent.

    30 av. Montaigne, Paris, Île-de-France, 75008, France
  • 19. Dior Joaillerie


    When Victoire de Castellane was signed to create Dior's first line of fine jewelry, she brought a big dollop of wit and panache to the venerable brand. After her romance with death heads, the young designer has returned to what she does best—utterly flamboyant gems in raucous colors, but with a new delicacy and finesse that places her designs at the pinnacle of high jewelry.

    34 av. Montaigne, Paris, Île-de-France, 75008, France
  • 20. Diptyque


    A Paris mainstay since 1961, Diptyque's flagship shop is famous for its candles, eaux de toilette, and home fragrances in a huge range of sophisticated and subtle scents like myrrh, fig tree, wisteria, and quince. They're delightful but not cheap; the candles, for instance, cost nearly $1 per hour of burn time.

    34 bd. St-Germain, Paris, Île-de-France, 75005, France

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