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. Cartier

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    Cartier flashes its jewels at more than half a dozen boutiques in the city. Longtime favorites such as the Trinity rings and Tank watches compete...Read More

  • 2. Dior Joaillerie

    Champs-Élysées | Jewelry/Accessories

    When Victoire de Castellane was signed to create Dior's first line of fine jewelry, she brought a big dollop of wit and panache to the venerable...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Alexandre Reza

    Grands Boulevards | Jewelry/Accessories

    One of Paris's most exclusive jewelers, Alexandre Reza is first and foremost a gemologist. He travels the world looking for the finest stones...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Avenches

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    This is not a boutique for wallflowers. Designer Vincent Avenches's original, sculptural jewelry demands to be noticed, as do the women who...Read More

  • 14. Causse

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    This place dates back to a time when the quality of the gloves said it all. Supple python or cherry-lacquered lambskin may not have been the...Read More

  • 15. Chanel Jewelry

    Grands Boulevards | Jewelry/Accessories

    Chanel Jewelry feeds off the iconic design elements of the pearl-draped designer: witness the quilting (reimagined for gold rings), camellias...Read More

  • 16. Dary's

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    This wonderful, family-run cavern teeming with artists, actors, models, and jewelry lovers offers an Ali Baba–ish shopping experience. You'll...Read More

  • 17. Dinh Van

    Grands Boulevards | Jewelry/Accessories

    Just around the corner from Place Vendôme's titan jewelers, Dinh Van thumbs its nose at in-your-face opulence. The look here is refreshingly...Read More

  • 18. Goyard

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    These colorful totes are the choice of royals, blue bloods, and the like (clients have included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Gregory Peck, and the...Read More

  • 19. Hermès

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    The go-to for those who prefer their logo discrete yet still crave instant recognition, Hermès was established as a saddlery in 1837; then went...Read More

  • 20. Maison Fabre

    Louvre | Jewelry/Accessories

    Until you've eased into an exquisite pair of gloves handcrafted by Fabre, you probably haven't experienced the sensation of having a second...Read More

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