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. Hod

    Marais Quarter | Jewelry/Accessories

    This understated boutique saves the razzle-dazzle for its wares—an outstanding selection of contemporary pieces by Europe's finest young designers...Read More

  • 2. Merci

    Marais Quarter | Antiques/Collectibles

    Paris's favorite concept store assembles fashions for men and women, home furnishings (including those irresistible French bed and bath linens...Read More

  • 3. Yves Gratas

    Oberkampf | Jewelry/Accessories

    With a knack for pairing gems of varying sizes, brilliance, and texture, Yves Gratas allows each stone to influence the design. Whether it's...Read More

  • 4. AB33

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    AB33 is like a sleek boudoir—complete with comfy chair and scented candles—and the clothes here are unabashedly feminine. Separates in luxury...Read More

  • 5. Abou d'Abi Bazar

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    A one-stop outfitter, Abou d'Abi Bazar organizes its collection of up-to-the-moment designers on color-coordinated racks that highlight the...Read More

  • 6. Bonton

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    Bonton takes the prize for most-coveted duds among those who like to think of children as fashion accessories. (Moms may find some useful wardrobe...Read More

  • 7. Comptoir de l'Image

    Marais Quarter | Books/Stationery

    This is where designers John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, and Emanuel Ungaro stock up on old copies of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and The Face. You...Read More

  • 8. Comptoir des Cotonniers

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    Comfortable, affordable, au courant clothes make this chain popular. Its reputation is built on smart, wearable styles that stress ease over...Read More

  • 9. COS

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    COS—which stands for Collection of Style—is the H&M group's answer to fashion sophisticates, who flock here in droves for high-concept,...Read More

  • 10. Free 'P' Star

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    Don't let the chaos at Free 'P' Star discourage you—there's gold in them there bins. Determined seekers on a budget can reap heady rewards,...Read More

  • 11. FrenchTrotters

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    The flagship store features an understated collection of contemporary French-made clothes and accessories for men and women that emphasize quality...Read More

  • 12. Izraël

    Marais Quarter | Food/Candy

    This place isn't called the " épicerie du monde " for nothing. Izraël is a one-stop shop for any spice under the sun, plus those hard-to-find...Read More

  • 13. Jacques Genin

    Marais Quarter | Food/Candy

    Genin offers the essence of great chocolate: not too sweet, with handpicked seasonal ingredients for the velvety ganaches. The tea salon is...Read More

  • 14. K. Jacques

    Marais Quarter | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    K. Jacques has shod everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Drew Barrymore. The famous St-Tropez–based maker of strappy leather-soled flats has migrated...Read More

  • 15. L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Marais Quarter | Perfume/Cosmetics

    L'Artisan Parfumeur is known for its own brand of scents for the home plus perfumes with names like Mûre et Musc (Blackberry and Musk). It also...Read More

  • 16. L'Eclaireur

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    This Rue de Sevigné boutique is Paris's touchstone for edgy, up-to-the-second styles. L'Eclaireur's knack for uncovering new talent and championing...Read More

  • 17. L'Habilleur

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    L'Habilleur is a favorite with the fashion press and anyone looking for a deal. For women there's a great selection from designers like Harley...Read More

  • 18. Le Monde Sauvage

    Marais Quarter | Household Items/Furniture

    Le Monde Sauvage is a must-visit for home accessories. Expect reversible silk bedspreads in rich colors, velvet throws, hand-quilted bed linens...Read More

  • 19. Le Palais des Thés

    Marais Quarter | Food/Candy

    White tea, green tea, black tea, tea from China, Japan, Indonesia, South America, and more: you can expect a comprehensive tea experience here...Read More

  • 20. Majestic Filatures

    Marais Quarter | Clothing

    Wearing a Majestic cashmere-cotton-blend T-shirt, dress, cardigan, or blazer is like spending the day cocooned in your favorite jammies. Fans...Read More

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