As you might know, Paris has its annual sales in January and July. Needless to say, with the current economy, this is a smart time to shop in Paris. Google the start date of the sale before you plan your trip. Sales usually last about a month. This year the sales began on January 7. The very serious shopper will scout out her finds before the sales begin and go back first thing on the first day to ensure she gets what she wants. Prices drop by 40 to 70 percent, so chic Parisian ladies suddenly aren’t so polite anymore. We stopped into Galeries Lafayette during the sales this year and discovered that this department store is not for the faint of heart. We simply couldn’t handle the crowds. There were buses of Japanese tourists parked outside, and we could barely walk through without getting pushed to and fro. Unless you are very determined, we suggest staying away from the big department stores during the soldes. Going early or late doesn’t seem to help.
That said, there are plenty of deals to be had at the more interesting boutiques that line the boulevards in the Marais, St. Germain and the Étienne Marcel neighborhood. Of course, this is a much more pleasant way to shop. In Étienne Marcel, the crowds were nonexistent and the sales clerks friendly. A walk down rue Étienne Marcel in the 2nd, from Place des Victoires (where you’ll find Kenzo) all the way to boulevard de Sébastopol, is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Here you’ll find French, American, Japanese and other designers—everything from Diesel to Kabuki (a store that carries Stella McCartney, Missoni, Chloé and Marc Jacobs). This is a fashionable street that is trendy but not so arty and chic that it’s bizarre or unaffordable. The shops around the St. Sulpice church, in the 6th, are also terrific during the sales. We like YSL, Kenzo, Giorgio Armani, Paul Smith, Agnès B and APC. (See Shopping for details and addresses.) We recommend skipping the Champs-Élysées unless you must shop at the largest Louis Vuitton store you can find. We consider the Champs to be too similar to a mall. There are some adorable shops near the Palais Royal (think Marc Jacobs), or you can try the back streets of the 11th for Isabel Marant and other très chic, completely Parisian designers. Of course, all of the Marais is a haven for the smart trendy shopper.
Take a look at our shopping page, figure out what styles are for you, get armed with a map and GO SHOPPING! Enjoy yourself and remember to stop for tea and pastries. If you missed last season’s sales, gear up for this season.