Places I Love for French Chic Shopping
The best way to shop in Paris is to head to a specific quartier and plan to spend a morning or an afternoonÂ participating in a favorite Parisian past-time: lĂ¨che vitrine (in English window-shopping).
My favorite areas for doing this are as follows:
â†’ Le Marais
Although it means â€śmarshâ€ť in French, it is anything but. This is the hippest and most historic district in Paris with over 150 listed landmark buildings. Forget about the rue des Francs Bourgeois which has now become a mecca for global brands you can find in the mall. The best places are in the upper Marais near the Picasso Museum, and this is where I often do my shopping tours. Great for artisanal jewelry, bags, vintage clothing and accessories, and lesser known designers you wonâ€™t find anywhere else. Ideal for fashionistas 16 and over.
â†’The Halles district
Located in the heart of Paris, this is a unique shopping area for both gourmet food and cutting-edge fashion. Frequented by serious gourmets, chefs, and bobos, you will love to visit the market on Rue Montorgueil, and the side streets, some of which are in the heart of the garment center. Great deals on buttons, notions, ribbons, as well as up and coming designers of all stripes.
â†’ Rue du Bac
This is one of my favorite shopping streets in Paris: geared to the “carriage trade” it has some of the loveliestÂ boutiques for fine linens, jewelry, shoes, sportswear, flowers, even fine art and engraved stationery. When you walk this street it takes you all the way to the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon MarchĂ©, founded in 1852, and built inÂ party by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame. ItsÂ gourmet food and takeout emporium, La GrandĂ© Epicerie, is a must for any visitor to Paris.
â†’ Rue du Faubourg Saint HonorĂ© and Rue Saint HonorĂ©
Although you will find many famous and costly labels on this streetâ€”Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Cartier, to name a fewâ€”you will also find elegant shoe stores that you will find no place else. Nearby, Avenue Matignon boasts the auction house Christies, and some of the finest art galleries in the world.
â†’ The Palais Royal and Covered Passages
The worldâ€™s first shopping malls were started at the end of the 18th century and flourished in the first half of the 19th. Today, some of them have been restored to their former glory and house wonderful, one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries, and cafĂ©s, and even some excellent bistros and wine bars. The oldest ofÂ these is home to the oldest and most elegant restaurant in Paris, where Napoleon, Balzac and Colette once ate, albeit in different eras.
Â â†’ Shopping Districts Off the Beaten Track
Today, a number of neighborhoods are becoming gentrified, and are starting to welcome pioneering retailers and artisans with their lower rents. Belleville, the Canal Saint Martin district, La Promenade PlantĂ©e, and the rue d’Oberkampf, are among the trend-spotting areas that are appealing to a growing number of savvy Parisians. These are great areas for the adventurous shopper and traveler, especially if they are seeking stores that they are sure not to find back home.
â†’ Shopping Districts to Be Avoided If Possible
While it is true that you canâ€™t avoid visiting the Champs-ElysĂ©es or Montmartre, or the rue de Rivoli,I cannot say that these are the most lovable places in Paris. The hordes of tourists, the pickpockets, the tacky merchandise, the blaring colors in the store windows, the made in China merchandise, the long lines into Louis Vuitton and Abercrombie & Fitchâ€”donâ€™t look for French chic here.