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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Galeries Lafayette

  • Department Stores

This mammoth department store is one of those places that you wander into unawares, leaving hours later a poorer and humbler person.

Lavinia

  • Wine/Spirits

Lavinia has the largest selection of wine in one spot in Europe—more than 6,000 wines and spirits from all over the world, ranging...

Les Caves Augé

  • Wine/Spirits

One of the best wineshops in Paris, Les Caves Augé has been in operation since 1850. It's just the ticket, whether you're looking for...

Make Up For Ever

  • Spa/Beauty

Poised at the back of a courtyard, this store is a must-stop for makeup artists, models, actresses, and divas of all stripes. The riotous...

Monoprix

  • Convenience/General Stores

With branches throughout the city, this is the French dime store par excellence, stocking everyday items like French cosmetics, groceries...

Pain d'Epices

  • Toys

This shop has anything you can imagine for the French home (and garden) in miniature, including Lilliputian croissants, wine decanters,...

Passage Jouffroy

  • Shopping Centers/Malls

Passage Jouffroy is full of eclectic shops selling toys, Asian furnishings, cinema posters, and more. Pain D'épices, at No. 29, specializes...

Passage Verdeau

  • Shopping Centers/Malls

Across from Passage Jouffroy, Passage Verdeau has shops carrying antique cameras, comic books, and engravings. Au Bonheur des Dames,...

Rue Lévis

  • Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

This market, near Parc Monceau, has Alsatian specialties and a terrific cheese shop. ...

Village JouéClub

  • Toys

Le Passage des Princes—one of the city’s historic covered passages —is home to Paris’s most comprehensive toy store. Part of...

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