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. Artazart

    Canal St-Martin | Books/Stationery

    The best design bookstore in France carries tomes on everything from architecture to tattoo art: there are sections dedicated to photography...Read More

  • 2. Centre Commercial

    Canal St-Martin | Clothing

    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...Read More

  • 3. Antoine & Lili

    Canal St-Martin | Clothing

    This bright, fuchsia-color store is packed with an international assortment of eclectic objects and items from Antoine & Lili's own clothing...Read More

  • 4. Des Petits Hauts

    Canal St-Martin | Clothing

    This poetic brand charmed its way into the local fashion idiom with chic yet beguilingly feminine styles. Fabrics are soft, and styles are casual...Read More

  • 5. Idé Co.

    Canal St-Martin | Household Items/Furniture

    Little items for the home in a riot of colors are sold at Idé Co. But you'll also find fabulous rubber jewelry and funky stuff for kids big...Read More

  • 6. Isabel Marant

    Bastille | Clothing

    This rising design star is a honeypot of bohemian rock-star style. Her separates skim the body without constricting: layered miniskirts, loose...Read More

  • 7. Jamin Puech Inventaire

    Canal St-Martin | Clothing

    These are last season's models, but no one will guess; savings are 30% to 60%. ...Read More

  • 8. La Trésorerie

    Canal St-Martin | Household Items/Furniture

    No place outfits chic Canal St-Martin lofts better than this soaring eco-friendly boutique. Housed in a historic treasury, it assembles the...Read More

  • 9. Marché Bastille

    Bastille | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    Paris's largest market is as much an event as a place to shop. Blocks of specialized stalls—including ones devoted to rare wines, regional cheeses...Read More

  • 10. Marché d'Aligre

    Bastille | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    Arguably the most authentic local market, Marché d'Aligre is open 7:30–1:30 Tuesday through Friday and 7:30–2:30 on weekends. Don't miss the...Read More

  • 11. Médecine Douce

    Canal St-Martin | Jewelry/Accessories

    Sculptural pieces that combine leather, suede, rhinestones, agate, or resin with whimsical themes can be found at Médecine Douce. The wildly...Read More

  • 12. Viveka Bergström

    Canal St-Martin | Jewelry/Accessories

    Forget traditional costume jewelry—these baubles just want to have fun! Whether it's a bracelet of gigantic rhinestones, a ring of fluorescent...Read More

  • 13. Rose et Marius

    Bastille | Household Items/Furniture

    Luxurious perfumed candles from Rose et Marius evoke the romance of Provence. Choose from 40 refillable porcelain tumblers, tipped in real gold...Read More

  • 14. Liza Korn

    Canal St-Martin | Clothing

    Liza Korn is that rare designer who seems to do it all and do it well. Whether it's rock 'n' roll (grommeted leather baseball or biker jackets...Read More

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