Paris

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. Acne Studios

    Louvre | Clothing

    Justly famous for their sexy, derriere-shaping jeans, the Swedish label for men and women daringly mixes genders and genres in body-hugging...Read More

  • 2. Alice Cadolle

    Louvre | Clothing

    Selling lingerie to Parisians since 1889, Alice Cadolle offers some of the city's most sumptuous couture undergarments. Ready-to-wear bras,...Read More

  • 3. Cartier

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    Cartier flashes its jewels at more than half a dozen boutiques in the city. Longtime favorites such as the Trinity rings and Tank watches compete...Read More

  • 4. Chantal Thomass

    Louvre | Clothing

    The legendary lingerie diva is back with a Pillow Talk –meets–Louis XIV–inspired boutique. This is French naughtiness at its best, striking...Read More

  • 5. Chloé

    Louvre | Clothing

    Much like the clothes it sells, Chloé's flagship boutique is softly feminine and modern without being stark. Housed in an 18th-century mansion...Read More

  • 6. Galerie Vivienne

    Louvre | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Located between the Bourse and the Palais-Royal, Galerie Vivienne is the most glorious glass-capped arcade in Paris. The 19th-century beauty...Read More

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  • 7. Les Salons du Palais-Royal Serge Lutens

    Louvre | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Every year Shiseido's creative genius, Serge Lutens, dreams up two new fragrances, which are then sold exclusively in this boutique. Each is...Read More

  • 8. Renaud Pellegrino

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, Renaud Pellegrino is a black-book address for style icons like Catherine Deneuve and Paloma Picasso...Read More

  • 9. & Other Stories

    Louvre | Clothing

    H&M’s latest upmarket "style-lab" covers all the major fashion bases while appealing to women of different tastes and ages. Unlike the minimalist...Read More

  • 10. A. Simon

    Louvre | Household Items/Furniture

    This is where Parisian chefs come for their kitchen needs—from plates and glasses to pans and wooden spoons. The quality is excellent and the...Read More

  • 11. Agnès b

    Louvre | Clothing

    Agnès b embodies the quintessential French approach to easy but stylish dressing. There are many branches, and the clothes are also sold in...Read More

  • 12. Anne Sémonin

    Louvre | Spa/Beauty

    Anne Sémonin sells skin-care products made out of seaweed and trace elements, as well as essential oils that are popular with fashion models. ...Read More

  • 13. Annick Goutal

    Louvre | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Annick Goutal sells its own line of signature scents, which come packaged in gilded gauze purses. Gardenia, Passion, Petite Chérie, and l'Eau...Read More

  • 14. Astier de Villatte

    Louvre | Household Items/Furniture

    Come here for tongue-in-chic interpretations of 18th-century table settings and furniture; live out your Baroque or Empire fancies with milk...Read More

  • 15. Avenches

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    This is not a boutique for wallflowers. Designer Vincent Avenches's original, sculptural jewelry demands to be noticed, as do the women who...Read More

  • 16. BHV

    Louvre | Department Stores

    Short for Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, BHV houses an enormous basement hardware store that sells everything from doorknobs to cement mixers and...Read More

  • 17. By Terry

    Louvre | Spa/Beauty

    This small, refined store is the brainchild of Terry de Gunzburg, Yves Saint Laurent's former director of makeup, whose brand of ready-to-wear...Read More

  • 18. Causse

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    This place dates back to a time when the quality of the gloves said it all. Supple python or cherry-lacquered lambskin may not have been the...Read More

  • 19. Christian Louboutin

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    These shoes carry their own red carpet with them, thanks to their trademark crimson soles. Whether tasseled, embroidered, or strappy, in Charvet...Read More

  • 20. Claudie Pierlot

    Louvre | Clothing

    This designer is deservedly lauded for her smart, urban clothes that unite youthful chic with solid designs; they also successfully transition...Read More

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