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. Balenciaga

    Champs-Élysées | Clothing

    This venerable Paris house rose to fashion stardom under the brilliant Nicolas Ghesquière, whose architectural volumes and structural technique...Read More

  • 4. Bonpoint

    Champs-Élysées | Clothing

    Outfit the prince or princess in your life at Bonpoint (yes, royalty does shop here). The prices are high, but the quality is exceptional...Read More

  • 5. Céline

    Champs-Élysées | Clothing

    Reinvigorated by Michael Kors in the late 1990s, Céline got another much-needed jolt when Phoebe Philo arrived in 2008 and began dazzling the...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Chanel

    Champs-Élysées | Clothing

    Elegant, modern looks with sex appeal and lasting value are Chanel's stock in trade. Although the spectacularly beautiful Avenue Montaigne flagship...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Dior

    Champs-Élysées | Clothing

    Following in John Galliano's outsized footsteps, Raf Simons did a brilliant job of redefining the label, but himself decamped in late 2015,...Read More

  • 11. Petit Bateau

    Champs-Élysées | Clothing

    This children's clothing store provides a fundamental part of the classic French wardrobe from cradle to teen and beyond. The signature T-shirt...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. & 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. A.P.C. Stock

    Montmartre | Clothing

    A.P.C. opened its surplus store steps away from Sacré-Coeur. No need to wait for sales; funky classics can always be found here for a whopping...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Anouschka

    Grands Boulevards | Clothing

    Anouschka has set up shop in her apartment (by appointment only, Monday to Saturday) and has rack upon rack of vintage clothing dating from...Read More

  • 20. 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

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