Shopping in Paris
Ooh la la! Paris! Perfume, jewelry, designer duds! Paris is a shopper's paradise, but it can be a pocketbook's demise.
If you are on a budget, check out the echelon of the stores and malls that you're visiting.
If you know Paris will have you exceed your spending limits, do your browsing elsewhere.
But if you just want to peek, and keep your credit cards firmly locked away, check out the chic and the expensively unique, simply for your entertainment!
Before you even step out the door of your hotel, you should have an idea of what you want to buy, how much you're willing to spend, and whether you're getting value for your money.
Paris is no different than any other cosmopolitan centre, where tourist traps abound. (You might even want to compare the value of your currency against the Euro.)
Since many visitors plan their trips around vacation times, it's handy to know the dates and holidays on which commercial establishments are closed.
In Paris, these include: New Year's Day, Good Friday (March-April), May Day (May 1), Victory Day (May 8), Ascension Thursday (May), Seventh Sunday after Easter (May), Seventh Monday after Easter (May), Bastille Day (July 14), Assumption Day (Aug.15), All Saints Day (Nov.1), Remembrance Day (Nov.11), and Christmas Day (Dec.25).
For a general idea of when you can shop, look to see the larger stores open from mid-morning to about 8 PM without closing for lunch. Department stores may stay open as late as 10 PM but only on Wednesday or Thursday.
Smaller shops/stores and supermarkets open as early as 8 AM but close from 1-3 PM and open again until 8 PM. There is limited Sunday shopping, usually in the Latin Quarter, Marais, Bastille or Ile de la Cité sections.
There are key shopping districts in Paris, the most famous of which has to be the Champs Elysées. This avenue has it all, from exchange banks, to fast food outlets, car showrooms, the Disney store, the Virgin Megastore and Louis Vuitton.
Colette, "the" boutique to visit, is located on the Rue St. Honoré along with dozens of other designer outlets, and the Dary vintage jewellery store.
In a confusion of French names, Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré is dotted with the chic boutiques of Hermès, Gucci, Lanvin, and Christian Lacroix.
However, if you are looking for a bargain, you can buy last year's fashions in the shops on Rue d'Alésia.
Antiques are also hot acquisitions for tourists, and for the elite of antiques, you'll want to visit the Louvre des Antiquaires at 2, Place du Palais Royal.
There, over 250 of Paris' leading dealers occupy a multi-floor complex, with offerings of jewelry, Louis XV furniture and hand-embroidered tapestries. Worth the time just to look!
But if you would really like to pick up something for yourself, then check out the dealers at the corner of Rue Rossini and Rue Drouot, or pop over to the Carré Rive Gauche, where the narrow lanes are chock full of lesser known antique shops.
Just for the browsing, and sometimes as a treat to all the senses, you can take in the Flower Market and even a Bird Market, both located between Notre-Dame and the Palais de Justice.
The serious shopper, who enjoys weekend touring of sales at home, will be delighted to find flea markets in the south of Paris at Porte de Vanves, and in the eastern section at Porte de Montreuil.
The crown jewel of these jumbles of genuine antiques and junk, is the century old Le Marché aux Puces St-Ouen, over on the north side of Paris.