My Favorite Places to Shop in Paris
I often get asked where I like to shop in Paris. How about a travel guide for shopping in Paris, oui? I fully take advantage of my trips to Paris to find the European styles I love. I come back home with such unique finds I will always treasure!
So, where do I shop? I definitely have a few go-to places that I'll share but I do make the effort to explore new neighborhoods whenever I go back because there are always some great new stores popping up around Paris.
Les grands magasins - Galeries Lafayettes & Printemps
You can never go wrong with Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps. These two are labeled "les grands magasins" and are essentially the two largest department stores in Paris. They are located on the right bank in the 9th arrondissement next to Opera. They carry everything you can imagine, from clothes, shoes, and accessories, to household items like kitchenware and bedroom sets. They also have an entire men's section in adjoining buildings. You will find all the luxury designer brands, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada, Chloe and more. You’ll also find my French favorites, like The Kooples, Sandro, Claudine Pierot, and everything in between. It’s a shopping heaven for everyone. Not only that, but the architecture of these buildings is STUNNING!
The trick is to go on a weekday, like a Tuesday morning, so that you can avoid the weekend crowds and truly embrace a rich shopping experience. Take a break at Printemps around lunch time so that you can enjoy lunch at their restaurant at the top in the beautiful stain-glass dome!
Rue Saint-Honoré is a long street at least a mile long with stores ranging from Zara to Louis Vuitton. It is also adjacent to Rue Cambon where Chanel’s flagship store is located (and worth a visit!).
Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche
Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is on the left bank in the 7th arrondissement. This department store carries many of the same brands as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps but is smaller and not as frequented by tourists. It therefore tends to be less crowded and is my go-to-place when I am on shorter trips and/or know exactly what I'm looking for.
When shopping at the larger department stores like Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, or Le Bon Marché, you’ll most likely reach the minimum spending requirement to qualify for a VAT Tax Refund. Read more about that process towards the end of this post!
Within walking distance from Le Bon Marché is Saint-Germain, a neighborhood full of picturesque cobblestone streets that will fill up your digital camera quickly (better invest in a couple of SD cards!). It has stores such as Prada and the Kooples and is also perfect for people watching. You'll find the crème de la crème having tea at Cafe le Flore, having an aperitif at Les Deux Magots, or dining at Cafe Procope.
Le Marais in the 3rd arrondissement is blessed with charm. It contains adorable cafes and restaurants from around the world on historic cobblestone streets and unique one-of-a-kind boutiques. It was also home to Victor Hugo at the famous Place des Voges. I've taken many outfit photos in Le Marais for my blog, and just recently started coming here to browse the local boutiques and consignment stores (called "Dépôt-vente" in French). In March, I stumbled across a small consignment store, called Dépôt-vente DELUXE that had such well cared-for quality luxury items at amazing prices. My favorite find from there was a Dior vintage purse for 100 euros! Note: second-hand items generally do not qualify for the VAT tax refund.
Rue de Passy
In the 16th arrondissement, a short walk from the Place du Trocadero and its iconic view of the Eiffel Tower is Rue de Passy. This shopping street holds a special place in my heart because it's in the neighborhood I lived in during my high school days. This neighborhood is predominantly residential and therefore frequented mostly by locals. It has tons of stores for everyone at every price-point. Brands such as Zara, Isabelle Marant, Promod, Kenzo, H&M, Lacoste… even the Gap. Lots of shoe stores as well - particularly one I like called Ann Tuil with beautiful styles, some even inspired by the luxury brands we all know and love. There is also another consignment store at nearby Rue de la Pompe called Réciproque that is HUGE and filled with beautiful vintage pieces from Chanel, Dior, Armani, and more. Not to be missed!
VAT Tax Refund
As a foreigner, you’ll benefit from a VAT tax refund (Détaxe in French) if you spend more than 175 euros at a single store. You’ll need have your passport with you (not a photocopy) and:
Be a resident of a non-EU country at the time of purchase
Have been in France for less than six months
Be at least 16 years old
Read more about the VAT tax refund in France.
The process may vary by country but here are the steps I’ve taken in France. It’s easy once you know what to expect.
At the store:
When you are done with your shopping, bring your purchased items, receipts, and passport to the Tax Refund counter. Note: You must visit the Tax Refund counter at that store the same day you make your purchases, not the next day.
They will prepare your forms and offer you a cash refund upfront or a refund to your credit card. I typically go with cash if it’s offered.
At the airport (go early, especially if you have high-value items!):
Go to the Tax Refund counter BEFORE checking your luggage (you may need to present the purchased items to customs).
Scan the barcode on your forms at one of their machines.
If you get a green check mark on the screen, you can seal up your envelope, slip it in the mailbox, and be on your way.
If you get a red mark, you’ll need to have customs review your items and stamp your form before mailing it. It typically happens with high-value luxe items, but can also be selected at random. There’s usually a line so it’s a good idea to allow yourself an extra hour at the airport if possible!
Most of us Americans traveling to France for vacation will qualify for this, which is a huge benefit of buying luxury items there. The items usually cost less than in the US and you don't have to pay EU taxes, saving tons of $$$. Plus, it's just really special to buy Chanel in Paris! The VAT tax refund applies in other countries in Europe as well, though the specific requirements may vary so always Google what those may be before going on your shopping spree.
Second-hand items do not qualify for a VAT tax refund, but you can surely find some amazing one-of-a-kind pieces on consignment. I mentioned two recently discovered places that are definitely worth visiting - Dépôt-vente DELUXE in Le Marais and Réciproque in the 16th arr. on Rue de la Pompe. On my next trips I’ll be on the lookout for more!
Bon voyage and enjoy shopping in belle Paris!
Shop the looks
Outfit photography: Damien Gugenheim and Jordan Thomas, EVER Photoshoot