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"—whic
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
Nothing, but nothing, can push you into the current of Parisian life faster than a few hours of shopping. Follow the lea

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. Avril Gau

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    After designing a dozen collections for Chanel, Gau struck out on her own, opening her neo-Baroque boutique on the charming Rue des Quatre Vents...Read More

  • 2. Buly 1803

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Although it only opened in 2014, you can be forgiven for thinking Buly 1803 is an antique apothecary—all those jars overflowing with exotic...Read More

  • 3. Carré Rive Gauche

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Antiques/Collectibles

    Head to the streets between Rue du Bac, Rue de l'Université, Rue de Lille, and Rue des Sts-Pères to to unearth museum-quality pieces. The more...Read More

  • 4. Cire Trudon

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Household Items/Furniture

    This company has illuminated the great palaces and churches of Paris since the 1600s. Nowadays it provides the atmosphere for tony restaurants...Read More

  • 5. Deyrolle

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Antiques/Collectibles

    This fascinating 19th-century taxidermist has long been a stop for curiosity seekers. A 2008 fire destroyed what was left of the original shop...Read More

  • 6. Diptyque

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Household Items/Furniture

    A Paris mainstay since 1961, Diptyque's flagship shop is famous for its candles, eaux de toilette, and body fragrances in a huge range of...Read More

  • 7. Jamin Puech

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    Nothing's plain Jane at Jamin Puech, which thinks of its bags not just as a necessity, but as jewelry. Beaded bags swing from thin link chains...Read More

  • 8. Jérôme Dreyfuss

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    The newest star in the city's handbag universe has captivated le tout Paris with his artsy take on hobo, Birkin, and messenger bags. Unique...Read More

  • 9. La Dernière Goutte

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Wine/Spirits

    This inviting cave (literally wine store or wine cellar) focuses on wines by small French producers. Each is handpicked by the owner, along...Read More

  • 10. Le Bon Marché

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Department Stores

    Founded in 1852, Le Bon Marché has emerged as the city's chicest department store. Long a hunting ground for linens and other home items, it...Read More

  • 11. Sabbia Rosa

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Clothing

    You could easily walk straight past this discreet, boudoirlike boutique. It is, however, one of the world's finest lingerie stores and the place...Read More

  • 12. Tila March

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    Fame came quickly to this ex-fashion editor, whose wildly successful first handbag collection was snatched up by celebs such as Sienna Miller...Read More

  • 13. A.P.C.

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Clothing

    The A.P.C. brand may be antiflash and minimal, but a knowing eye can always pick out its jeans in a crowd. The clothes here are rigorously well...Read More

  • 14. Adelline

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    Entering this jewelry shop is like landing in Ali Baba's cave: each piece is more gorgeous than the last, and the bounty of beautiful shapes...Read More

  • 15. Agatha

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    This chain is the perfect place to buy a moderately priced piece of fun jewelry. Agatha's line of earrings, rings, hair accessories, bracelets...Read More

  • 16. Alexandra Sojfer

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    The proprietress of this legendary little store is the queen of walking sticks (the late president François Mitterrand bought his here). Alexandra...Read More

  • 17. Alexandre Biaggi

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Household Items/Furniture

    Alexandre Biaggi specializes in 20th-century Art Deco and also commissions pieces from such talented designers as Patrick Naggar and Hervé van...Read More

  • 18. Antik Batik

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Clothing

    It's hard to resist Antik Batik's wonderful line of ethnically inspired clothes. There are rows of beaded and sequined dresses, Chinese silk...Read More

  • 19. Arthus-Bertrand

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Jewelry/Accessories

    Dating back to 1803, Arthus-Bertrand has glass showcases full of designer jewelry and numerous objects to celebrate births. ...Read More

  • 20. Boulevard Raspail

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    The city's major marché biologique, or organic market, is on Boulevard Raspail between Rue du Cherche-Midi and Rue de Rennes. Bursting with...Read More

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