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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Balenciaga

  • Clothing

This venerable Paris house rose to fashion stardom under the brilliant Nicolas Ghesquière, whose abrupt departure in 2012 opened the...

Berluti

  • Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

Berluti has been making exquisite and expensive men's shoes for more than a century. "Nothing is too beautiful for feet" is Olga Berluti's...

Bonpoint

  • Clothing

Outfit the prince or princess in your life at Bonpoint (yes, royalty does shop here). The prices are high, but the quality is exceptional...

Chanel

  • Clothing

Elegant, modern looks with sex appeal and lasting value are Chanel's stock in trade. Although the spectacularly beautiful Avenue Montaigne...

Christian Dior

  • Clothing

Following John Galliano's inglorious fall from grace in 2012, Raf Simons did a brilliant job of redefining this label, playing with volumes...

Céline

  • Clothing

Reinvigorated by Michael Kors in the late 1990s, Céline got another much-needed jolt when Phoebe Philo arrived in 2009 and began dazzling...

Dior Joaillerie

  • Jewelry/Accessories

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...

Dolce & Gabbana

  • Clothing

Dolce & Gabbana offers a sexy, young-Italian-widow vibe with a side of moody boyfriend. Svelte silk dresses, sharply tailored suits,...

Giuseppe Zanotti Design

  • Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

Every pair of shoes here is fetish worthy, if not downright dangerous. Mile-high spike heels, buckle stilettos, slinky python booties,...

Guerlain

  • Perfume/Cosmetics

This opulent address is a fitting home for Paris's first—and most famous—perfumer. Still the only Paris outlet for legendary perfumes...

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