With the recent arrival of spring, Paris’s shopwindows are filled with bright creations, full of that special je ne sais quoi mix of mystery, refinement, flair and originality that’s oh so Parisian. No trip to Paris is complete without doing some Paris shopping, and the spring/summer season is proving to look very promising.
Gone from the streets are the towering platform shoes that made walking the cobblestoned streets particularly daunting, replaced by flats, or even a simple pump. Whether it’s the simple lines of Dior’s Raf Simons’s return to prettiness, or YSL’s new head Hedi Slimane’s ’70s inspired bohemian collection, femininity is in full swing in Paris!
Rest assured that great shopping can be found at all price points, whether you’re looking for a luxury bag from Goyard, a bohemian chic peasant blouse or just a little souvenir bobble. Paris is the place to fulfill all your dreams . . . that is, IF you know where to go.
For one-stop shopping in Paris, nothing of course beats the more-than-a-century-old department stores (most notably le Printemps and le Bon Marché), but if you wander just a little bit off the beaten tripist track, you are sure to stumble on more than one hidden treasure!
Tucked away in the small streets of the Marais is my newest love, Isaac Reina (located on rue de Sevigné, next to the infamous luxury concept store l’Eclaireur). Only slightly bigger than a boot-size shoe box, the beautiful white shop is filled with exquisite leather goodies for both men and women. The buttery soft unstructured shopping bags and handsome wallets are made from the finest skins and make wonderful I-thought-of-you gifts. The colors are neutral and everything is made in France. The briefcases are enough to make any vacationer look forward to going back to work again.
Afterward, you must pop over to say hello to Laurent at Abou d’Abi Bazar on rue Vieille du Temple, only a few streets away. Laurent is the best salesman I have ever seen in Paris. Welcoming and helpful, he’ll definitely pull something off one of the racks that is just right for you. The store always has original French creations at affordable prices. Pass by Tuesday to Saturday so you can be sure he is around.
Of course, the absolute, hands-down, most exciting way to see all these great places to shop, and more, is by renting a Vespa and triping Paris with or without a guide, all organized by a company called Ciao Paris. Instead of taking the metro, getting stuck or stressing in a taxi, nothing is better than zipping around these short distances with a Vespa!
And if you don’t have room on your Vespa for all your beautiful new purchases? Don’t worry! Many shops in Paris are happy to messenger your treats to your hotel while you settle into a café for a well-earned rest!
38, rue de Sévigné, in the 3rd Arrondissement. 01 42 78 81 95.
Abou d’Abi Bazar
125, rue Vieille du Temple, in the 3rd Arrondissement. 01 42 71 13 26.
Editor’s note: Calling all fashionistas! We now have not one but three killer shopping trips that you can download and print out or buy for your iPhone or Android device. Walk and Shop the Marais has more than 60 stores we recommend, and there’s shopping in Saint-Germain, shopping with Jackie O. (her favorite haunts) and shopping in the 7th Arrondissement. You can buy them as a package for only $11.95.