A Paris shopping excursion is a fundamental part of a Parisian vacation
Paris, like most European cities, is built around a river. The Seine, to be precise. Fashion style is organized around the river, believe it or not.
In Paris, the Left Bank (Gauche) is the funky, perpetually gentrifying part of the city. The Eiffel Tower is on the Left. Notice how gauche has come to mean tacky and maybe loud? It just means left in French. The Right Bank (droit) is posh. It’s where the Louvre, the Presidential Palace and Champs Elysees are located. The shopping in Paris reflects that cultural divide. Fast fashion will be on the Left Bank. Timeless classics and high fashion, firmly on the Right Bank. On the Right, you can still get an appointment to be fitted with couture clothes.
The Right Bank features the Triangle d’Or – the Golden Triangle – where the most famous brands have their flagship stores. The actual couture ateliers require appointments and private guides. We book that. Let us know. Once your 5 figure dress or suit from Chanel or Dior is delivered, we assume there will be no sudden weight changes. LOL. And if you doubt Paris is the epicenter of what to wear or not wear, just think of the fashion terms we use, all French. Couture (high end). Chic (sharp). Pret-a-porter (ready-to-wear). While Milan and London focus on high end clothes and accessories as well, there is nothing quite like the twice-a-year fashion weeks in Paris, generally in February and September.
Quite different is the Paris shopping experience on rue Cler. Restricted from cars and still featuring cobblestones, it’s a walker’s dream. The focus is on food, flowers and pastries. But that is easy to find and, let’s be frank, jammed with tourists. While the Galeries Lafeyette may be “just” a department store, it offers a fantastic array of fashion over several blocks, plus a rooftop bistro/bar with an amazing angle on Paris. Stroll through the store to get ideas for pieces you just have to have, or just have a snack and enjoy the view.
Whenever we are in Paris we pick a shop or a bakery or a café we have heard about and try to find it, not by the most obvious means. We walk, take the metro a stop or three early and definitely don’t Uber or cab it. You miss too much. In fact, we might not ever get to the destination. We were headed to a Champagne tasting, arrived too late, and stumbled upon a fantastic tapas place.
Thinking about finding that odd little trinket or small painting or print? You will love St. Germain and the Marais for hole in-the-wall shops that have been there for decades. Locals rely on finding a perfect little dress in their small boutiques.
Other Paris shopping ideas
–right around the Louvre are marvelous, and expensive, antique and jewelry shops
–along the river, pop up book stalls are where you can find a novel to read while jet-lagged, or maybe a hard to find Anime collectible. You never know.
–Galerie Lafayette and Bon Marche department stores, as grand as Bloomies in New York and with a bit more flair. The ceiling at Galeries Lafayette is stunning.
Oh and if you are major fashion maven, or a wannabe like Anne Hathaway in “Devil Wears Prada”, check out the official site for Paris Fashion Week.
Contact us to help plan a custom an awe-inspiring trip to Paris.