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. 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. Louis Vuitton

    Champs-Élysées | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Louis Vuitton has spawned a voracious fan base from Texas to Tokyo with its mix of classic leather goods and saucy revamped versions orchestrated...Read More

  • 3. Renaud Pellegrino

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, Renaud Pellegrino is a black-book address for style icons like Catherine Deneuve and Paloma Picasso...Read More

  • 4. Berluti

    Champs-Élysées | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Berluti has been making exquisite and expensive men's shoes for more than a century. "Nothing is too beautiful for feet" is Olga Berluti's motto...Read More

  • 5. Christian Louboutin

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    These shoes carry their own red carpet with them, thanks to their trademark crimson soles. Whether tasseled, embroidered, or strappy, in Charvet...Read More

  • 6. Giuseppe Zanotti Design

    Champs-Élysées | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Every pair of shoes here is fetish worthy, if not downright dangerous. Mile-high spike heels, buckle stilettos, slinky python booties, and jewel...Read More

  • 7. Jimmy Choo

    Champs-Élysées | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    This is the place for vampy stilettoes, strappy flats, and butch biker boots. Recent Belle de Jour –inspired kitten heels are a nice respite...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Lancaster

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    A household name in France for 100 years, Lancaster has a reputation for style and craftsmanship. Its bags are chic and sporty, with an emphasis...Read More

  • 10. Moynat

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Designed to evoke a wheel, as in "we're going places, baby," this gleaming boutique showcases the new Moynat, while evoking the brand's 19th...Read More

  • 11. Pierre Hardy

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    With Vivier and Louboutin, Pierre Hardy completes the triumvirate of anointed Paris shoe designers. Armed with a pedigree—Dior, Hermès, Balenciaga...Read More

  • 12. Robert Clergerie

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

    Robert Clergerie knows that shoes make the woman. Styles combine visionary design, first-rate craftsmanship, and wearability with rare staying...Read More

  • 13. Roger Vivier

    Louvre | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Known for decades for his Pilgrim-buckle shoes and inventive heels, Roger Vivier's name is being resurrected through the creativity of über...Read More

  • 14. Le Chameau

    Champs-Élysées | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    The Duchess of Cambridge started a run on these handmade rubber boots from Normandy, a staple of French equestrians, hunters, and yachtsmen...Read More

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