Visitors ‘soldes’ on Paris as a shopping destination
PARIS – The arrival into my favourite city was not among my best.
It was late night, in freezing temperature, with an extended forecast predicting snow. I landed on French soil with no coat. It was lost in transit from Los Angeles (my fault, but that’s another story).
Refusing to buy an overpriced, ill-fitted garment for which I would have little need in southern California, I dug in my stiletto heels.
That is, until I visited Galeries Lafayette, the noted Parisian department store.
“It’s only blocks away, madame. And there are the ‘sales’, ” advised concierge Olivier at the Millennium Hotel Paris Opera, selected as home for my shopping spree due to its Boulevard Haussmann location (also close to Printemps store).
“Sales?” I quizzed.
“Oui, the January sales,” he explained.
En route to my destination, the windows of boutique after boutique reconfirmed his proclamation. Soldes read the signage – translation: sales.
Beneath its Art Nouveau glass dome, Galeries Lafayette offers the world’s largest perfume department and over 75,000 brand names. Not surprisingly, I found an irresistible trendy trench (marked from 100 to 59 euros).
Warmly and smartly attired, my Parisian shopping pursuit began.
This European capital is a haven for those of us who specialize in retail therapy. With few shopping malls and a scattering of chain stores, it’s an anomaly.
Known as the most exclusive street in Paris, first stop was Avenue de Montaigne, offering high style and higher prices. Despite the January sales, I saw no signs indicating Soldes in its stores – Prada, Valentino, Pucci and others. But smartly-attired shoppers were plentiful, as they were along another fashion-famous lane – Faubourg St-Honore – home to boutiques like Chloe and Hermes.
However, haute couture is no longer the fashion world’s only game in town. And many a pocketbook dictates that it’s wise to venture beyond these legendary avenues and into alleyways in quest of lesser-known boutiques.
My discovery was in the Rue Des Francs Bourgeois/Rue Des Rosiers area.
“It’s where locals shop,” shared Olivier.
There I uncovered stores like Comptoir Des Cotonniers and Chattawak where a sleeveless open-back sequin top (31 euros) was spotted on the sale rack. Around the corner was Cimarron, a shop featuring denim duds.
Agnes B boutiques (women’s, men’s, children’s fashions and home store) are along Rue du Jour (a small street for which you’ll hunt). But your effort will be rewarded. A coveted item from the popular French designer was a butter-soft suede jacket (1,000 euros). My purchase: a short ‘in’ black/white sweater (60 euros).
On every visit to Paris I browse along Rue de Rivoli for jewellry, perhaps an artistic tie for my husband but always in search of a scarf for myself (15 euros soldes). I confess that I rarely wear the accessory unless in Paris, where any outfit is incomplete without one.
Though proximity encourages exploration, Parisian shopping opportunities are varied and voluminous – making an expedition somewhat daunting to a novice. But this need not be so.
Sadly my spree ended, though my zest for shopping Soldes did not. Calendar in hand, I made note: Paris sales – January and July.
I highlighted July.
- To blend, wear black and accessorize with colorful scarves.
- Expect sales clerks to be indifferent. It’s not because you’re a tourist; it’s just “because.”
- Enlist the advice of your hotel concierge and ask for shopping discounts he/she may offer. Olivier’s 10% Galeries Lafayette discount card provided additional savings.
- Don’t bypass Gap, Zara and Promod (yes, they’re chains but their Parisian stores provide value, style and items not found at home).
- Learn and use the basics: bonjour (good morning), au revoir (goodbye) and merci (thank you).