The Ultimate Shopping Guide to Paris

40 Boulevard Haussmann
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is worth a visit if only to stand under its magnificent glass dome. The family business has survived as a one-stop-shopping hub for five generations, thanks to steady innovation and an emphasis on high fashion and design. Shoppers appreciate its easy VAT refund policy. There are also multiple restaurants, a rooftop terrace with stunning city views and a cultural space for rotating art exhibitions.
53 Quai des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris, France
If you’ve ever walked along the banks of the river Seine, you’ve probably seen long green boxes and their vendors plying souvenirs, postcards and a variety of other knick-knacks. But did you know that these Bouquinistes - all 240+ of them - are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Take the time to peruse what they’re offering. More than just frivolous trinkets, many of them house collector’s items from vintage magazines and stamps to used books, trading cards and old photos (which make for a far more interesting postcard). Stroll the Seine and talk to the vendors - you might just find yourself walking away with a Parisian treasure you’ll actually want to hang onto. (Bouquinistes are set up on the right bank from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre and on the left bank from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire)
Passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 Paris, France
It had been years since I last stumbled upon the Passage du Grand Cerf in the 2nd, a long and narrow gallery of creative shops. Though I wasn’t the only shopper, part of me felt like I had happened upon an untouched jewel. If I share this spot today it’s because I know it will charm those seeking an original memento that lives outside the well-worn Paris souvenir vacuum. Like a much younger version of myself in a candy store, I spun from wall to wall admiring the original posters, prints and greeting cards, wishing I had more free space on my walls to hang something new. Considering my Francophile friend in Brooklyn, I opted instead for a spacious canvas tote painted with an illustration of Paris’s 20 arrondissements - the last one in stock. On this particular day, the space glowed for the holiday season, bedecked in warm, yellow twinkle lights, wreaths and garlands. Though filled with last minute shoppers, the only sound to be heard was the clanging of tiny bells hanging from shop doors and the ensuing chorus of “bonnes fêtes” (happy holidays). Outside an antiques shop, vintage ornaments spilled over the edge of old baskets just waiting to be snatched up. I ambled along past card stores and independent clothing boutiques, stopping in my tracks as I arrived in front of L’Illustre Boutique, a charming little shop specialized in limited edition illustrations by French artists.
46 Rue du Bac
Since 1831 Deyrolle has been the taxidermist for Parisians. In the two-story shop on the lovely Rue du Bac, you’ll find everything from domestic animals and large exotic mammals (lions! zebras!) to insects, shells, birds, and educational books. Parisians bring their small children here to teach them about the natural world because it feels like a beautiful natural history museum as much as an odd little shop of curiosities. In one room, drawers display beautiful insects and seashells for purchase. A small gardening shop on the first floor may be of interest to companions for whom taxidermy feels icky.
5 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris, France
A few steps away from Merci store, you can find its kids version at the colorful concept store Bon Ton, which sells kids clothes, shoes and toys. The brand has more stores in the city but this one is a three level high, filled with Kids accessories, decors, clothes and toys with little fitting rooms, playing space and photo booth. Everything is so colorful and every detail is carefully planned. Even the friendly sales women wear colorful clothes that match some of the items. It is definitely friendly store both for kids and their parents. Closed Sundays.
29 Rue de Poitou, 75003 Paris, France
The area around the rue de Bretagne in the north part of the Marais continues to be a big draw with locals and visitors for a number of reasons: the Marché des Enfants Rouges covered market with food stalls, the wincingly bobo-chic Café Charlot (people go even if the service is uneven and the fries are frozen), the Franco-British brunch institution Rose Bakery and the upstart Candelaria, one of the best places in the city for tacos and cocktails. Equally as iconic as some of these hot spots it Hier Aujourd’hui et Demain, a shop right across from Café Charlot that hawks vintage home decor accessories and French industrial lamps - both of which have reeled me (and my wallet) in many a time. A great source for original pieces and antiques to bring back with you after your trip.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, a stone’s throw from the Seine and draped in the shadow of Notre Dame, is what should be proclaimed one of France’s national treasures: the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. This is actually the second site of the store; the original was closed in June 1940 due to the German occupation of Paris during the Second World War. The current location opened in 1951 as Le Mistral, but the name didn’t stick for long. Walk through the green double doors to find a world steeped in history and literary greatness. Endless stacks of books and shelves teeming with manuscripts make it hard to move around. The smell of old books hangs in the air, and that fragrance alone is reminiscent of a bygone era. My own weathered copy of A Moveable Feast was picked up here (Hemingway was a frequent visitor of the original shop). Stop in for a minute or stay for hours: Shakespeare welcomes your company.
117 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, France
If you are a fan of design and furniture, this store is a MUST stop for you. The Conran Shop(originally a British company) in Paris is located in the former warehouse building of the Bon Marché, and has 3 levels of furniture, home decorations, gardening, textile, lighting and music/audio system. I can spend hours in this store, even though there are so many great local design stores in Paris. If you are in the area, combine it with a fun walk or window shopping in this neighborhood.
Rue de Grenelle, Paris, France
The famous Golden Triangle of Paris is on the Right Bank, just off the Champs Elysées, but the lesser known, much more important golden triangle of shoes is on the Left Bank, beginning as the corner of the rue d’Assas and the rue du Cherche Midi. The first few shoes stores are local designers, or multi-brand boutiques as you walk towards the Carrefour de la Croix Rouge. You’ll find shoes of every style, for every budget. As you get to the top of the street Robert Clergerie has a boutique, then there is a Camper store. At the larger Centure statue, turn left to the rue de Grenelle towards the boul de Raspail and you’ll be passing all the greats; Michel Perry, Marc Jacobs, Giuseppi Zanotti, Sergio Rossi, Prada, YSL, and even Christian Louboutin. If that is not enough and you’re still feeling like Cinderella after the ball, cross the boul Raspail and go to the shoe department at Le Bon Marché Department store for an over view of the world’s most luxurious shoe selection.
Sainte-Avoye, Paris, France
Just down the street from the charming Carreau du Temple, an open-air market square in the Haut Marais that recently reopened after heavy renovations, sits OFR: a bookshop-cum-gallery that houses an extensive collection of multilingual art and design books and fashion magazines. Here, you’re likely to mingle with a modish crowd, willing to strike up a conversation about anything from travel photography to urban design. If you go, check OFR’s website for regularly rotating events. Added benefit: open 7/7!
213 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France
Beside the fact that Rue Saint Honore is one of my favorite streets in Paris (not only for window shopping but also for people spotting) and I can spend hours and days going from one store to another, one of the most popular and trendiest concept stores located there is Colette. The store has 3 floors: The ground floor has books, music, accessories, and a men’s T-shirt collection; the second floor keeps the women’s clothing, shoes, make up, and more; the lower level is Colette’s cafe, which serves delicious menu (a bit overpriced I think, but it’s a great alternative for a lunch break or just a coffee in the midst of shopping). The store also has an exhibition space, which changes frequently. It is a great place to get inspiration, to learn about the next trends, and to spot the fashionable crowds—local and tourists alike.
24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France
True to its 180-year-old business model, Hermès still makes its leather bags by hand in France, each one crafted from start to finish by a single artisan—the Birkin starts at $12,000 and can run upwards of $200,000. Of its three Paris stores, this flagship is the biggest and busiest, its wares ranging from furniture to perfumes; helpful salespeople serve coffee to customers waiting in line for leather.
101 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, France
The Marais has no shortage of charming stores, designer boutiques and international labels but one of my favorite additions to the neighborhood is Delphine Pariente’s namesake shop. The designer trained with Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Sonia Rykiel before launching her own business on rue de Turenne. With mid-century modern furnishings and vintage accessories, the shop looks like a true home. While those pieces are for sale, the focus of her shop is her romantic, somewhat curious jewelry which she produces from old objects. Charms, medallions engraved with messages and quotes, gorgeous earrings and bracelets share the space with old school typewriters, alarm clocks and other knick-knacks. This spot is popular among young Parisians so be sure to stop in and pick up something beautiful before skipping town.
12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France
The limited-edition Nikes and kiosk of independent magazines (Corpus, Out of Order, System) at this brilliantly edited multibrand boutique in the upper Marais recall the city’s renowned concept shop Colette. But its abundant natural light, and market-fresh, Scandinavian-influenced café make it a place of its own. Minimalist, rustic decor and sparsely furnished racks reinforce a feeling of calm. An in-house florist is in the works. 12 Rue Perrée, 33/(0) 1-44-61- 53-60. This appeared in the October 2013 issue.
Jardin du Palais Royal, 24 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
Opinionated, obsessive designer Didier Ludot has one of the city’s best collections of vintage couture and accessories. If you’re looking for that perfect Courrèges dress or a mint-condition Hermès Plume bag (one of Ludot’s personal favorites), head to his eponymous boutique in the Jardin du Palais Royal. On offer is haute couture, classic handbags, as well as impeccably restored vintage furs.
68 Rue Montmartre
H&M’s first stand-alone brand debuted in Europe in 2007, selling minimalist, architectural basics that evoke the aesthetic of luxury house Céline—albeit with a few zeroes knocked off the price tag. There are plans to bring the chain to the United States, but until then, Paris, with five shops sprinkled throughout town, is one of the best places to sample the goods. This appeared in the October 2013 issue.
4 Rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris, France
As much as Paris is packed with perfumes stores, there is always room for one more; Jovoy Paris opened in Paris at the end of March and focuses on rare, exclusive and limited edition perfumes. Aside from the wide selection, which is both original and quality-minded, I love the way Jovoy features its perfumes. Jovoy uses glass domes to cover the little brown tester bottles, in order to capture the perfume’s true scent. It is actually allowing the customers to get a better idea of the fragrance’s real scent without the inconveniences of the alcohol. But beside the little domes, I love the colorful perfumes bottles and heavenly scents. I also love the way the new space is designed; the red walls, the warm colored shelves in the middle of the store, where costumers could pass both sides and the vintage touch of some of the displayed tables, gave Jovoy a very Parisian chic feel, yet conceptual high-class store. Among the rare perfumes that can be found are: Amouage, Andy Tauer, Heeley, Humiecki and Graef, Masaki Matsushhima, Undergreen, Puro, Xerjoff, and so many others I’ve never heard off. Next time you are in Paris, include Jovoy store in your schedule: definitely a great way to experience Paris.
132-140 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen, France
Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, aka Clignancourt, is Europe’s largest flea market and the city’s favorite place to find a bargain. Exiting the Métro at Porte de Clignancourt, those in the know pass by the counterfeit designer-goods hawkers, avoid the parking lot with camper vans full of cheap goods, and head under the overpass to Rue des Rosiers. Groups of stalls form smaller flea markets, each with its own specialty, so shopping can feel like walking through a museum where you can actually buy things. The market called Serpette draws serious dealers looking for mid-century marvels, but shoppers who head as far as Jules Vallès market may score some true bargains. Of course, this is France, where food matters, so there are plenty of local cafés to choose from. Ma Cocotte is trendy chic, La Chope des Puces has live jazz with moules frites, and Chez Louisette draws a crowd nostalgic for French tunes with its simple steak frites.
Place Saint-Pierre, 75018 Paris, France
Tourists flock to the top of Monmartre’s hill to visit the Sacré Coeur Basilica and Place du Tertre — a haven of tacky souvenir stores and cheap art. Few of them realize that the nearby neighborhoods around Monmartre’s base are filled with local Parisian cafés and boutiques with unique finds. One of my favorite areas to wander is the tisus (fabric) district around Place Saint Pierre. Storefronts in the area are pure eye candy, filled with rolls of textiles of every type, color and motif imaginable. While wandering rue d’Orsel, I came across a small store that specialized in notions. I was entranced by the rhythmic button display formed at the end of the long, plastic tube containers. The friendly sales woman taught me that when interested in purchasing fabrics or notions in France, one should always seek a clerk for assistance. She also told me to keep an eye out for “coupons.” Though they do connote good deals in France, they do not refer to the paper discounts we use in the U.S. Rather, the French definition of coupons refers to pre-cut /remnant pieces of fabric that are sold at reduced prices.
1-3 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris, France
For music lovers, this store in Paris 9th arrondissement, is a true find. Balades Sonores is the storefront for a French record label and the place to find out what’s new in French music. In the store, there are boxes of new releases on a very friendly music-loving, coffee-offering staff. The shop hosts small concerts and the label puts out a monthly calendar highlighting French artists and upcoming music festivals in Paris.
21 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, 75003 Paris, France
Named after a Montreal subway station, the new men’s boutique BEAUBIEN is situated in an emerging section of the Haut-Marais (or ''NoMa’’ in local parlance)- the rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth has been an extension of the garment district (the ''Sentier’’) dedicated to menswear for many years – the area’s golden age dates to the 80s-90s, when people from all over the world came to source the latest trends. Many of the Sentier’s wholesalers are leaving and being supplanted by a cool mix of art galleries, restaurants and independent boutiques. In other words, excellent timing for a male-focused shop. The boutique features a careful edit of casual menswear by up-and-coming designers from the U.S, Denmark and Japan - an easy-to-wear selection unlike any other in Paris. This style is also reflected squarely in the shop’s name: in French, ''beau’’ meaning ''beautiful’’ and ''bien’’ meaning ''good’’, the name carries a naive simplicity, referring to the idea of just sourcing, selecting and selling high quality products – Parisian retail at its best.
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