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. À la Mère de Famille

    Grands Boulevards | Food/Candy

    This enchanting shop dates from 1761 and is the oldest continuously open confectionary in Paris. Though it has gone the way of the chain, with...Read More

  • 2. Christian Constant

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    Chocolatier Christian Constant is deservedly praised for his exquisite ganaches, perfumed with jasmine, ylang-ylang, or verveine. ...Read More

  • 3. Debauve & Gallais

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    The two former chemists who founded Debauve & Gallais in 1800 became the royal chocolate purveyors and were famed for their "health chocolates...Read More

  • 4. Fauchon

    Grands Boulevards | Food/Candy

    The most iconic of Parisian food stores is expanding globally, but its flagship is still behind the Madeleine church. Established in 1886, Fauchon...Read More

  • 5. Henri Le Roux

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    The originator of the renowned caramel au beurre salé, Henri Le Roux pairs a Breton pedigree with Japanese flair. Brilliant confections result...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Jean-Charles Rochoux

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    Rochoux makes three superb collections of artisanal chocolates: the Ephemeral, with fresh fruit; Made-to-Measure, with animals and figurines...Read More

  • 9. Jean-Paul Hévin

    Louvre | Food/Candy

    Forty masterful varieties of chocolate and some of the best pastries in Paris earned Jean-Paul Hévin his world-class chocolatier status. Devotees...Read More

  • 10. La Maison du Chocolat

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    This is chocolate's gold standard. The silky ganaches are renowned for subtlety and flavor. See the website for a full list of locations. ...Read More

  • 11. Ladurée

    Louvre | Food/Candy

    Founded in 1862, Ladurée oozes period atmosphere—even at the big Champs-Élysées branch (No. 75)—but nothing beats the original tearoom on Rue...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Mariage Frères

    Marais Quarter | Food/Candy

    Mariage Frères, with its colonial charme and wooden counters, has 100-plus years of tea purveying behind it. Choose from more than 450 blends...Read More

  • 14. Méert

    Marais Quarter | Food/Candy

    The first Paris offshoot of the famous patisserie and tea salon in Lille (one of France's oldest) specializes in the gauffre, a delicate waffle...Read More

  • 15. Patrick Roger

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    Paris's bad-boy chocolatier likes to shock with provocative shapes and wicked humor. Everything is sinfully good. The Boulevard St-Germain shop...Read More

  • 16. Pierre Hermé

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    Hermé may be Paris's most renowned pâtissier. Sample the peerless cakes and cookies, or savor the chocolate delights (classic varieties, like...Read More

  • 17. Pierre Marcolini

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    Sourcing his star ingredient from independent farmers, Pierre Marcolini proves it's all in the bean. His specialty saveurs du monde collection...Read More

  • 18. Richart

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    How do I love thee? The ways are too numerous to count. At Richart, inspired chocolates dazzle the eye and elevate the palate. In addition to...Read More

  • 19. Tomat's

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Food/Candy

    Tucked into a courtyard, this luxe épicerie carries the full line of Huilerie Artisanale J. Leblanc et Fils oil—15 varieties pressed the old...Read More

  • 20. Hédiard

    Grands Boulevards | Food/Candy

    Established in 1854, Hédiard gained fame in the 19th century for its high-quality imported spices. These—along with rare teas and beautifully...Read More

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