On any given day of the year, Paris is a shoppers’ idea of heaven. What’s not to love about shopping in Paris? Beautiful stores galore adorn the city from Le Bon Marché and Galeries Layfayette to Printemps and BHV (pronounced Bay Hash Vay), plus all the designer boutiques like Prada & Chanel or Merci and Colette! Not to mention, the plethora of markets that underpin these destination superstores. No wonder tourists flock to this city with long arms and deep pockets!
So the stampede for the best bargains has officially begun. For the next five weeks, every store across the city will be displaying the sign ‘SOLDES’, which means ‘sale’ in French. Admittedly, MLP was confused when seeing these signs for the first time – given that SOLD actually means ‘already purchased‘, in the UK. But once we got our head around it we couldn’t wait to get on our flats (shoes) and prepare for a shopping marathon!
Given Paris prices, LES SOLDES, provides the perfect opportunity for one to potentially find something that one can actually afford! Lets not forget that Paris is one of the most expensive cities on the planet. So naturally, tourists are here in their droves battling for the best deals alongside Parisian natives and expats. Bear in mind that a sale price, in a Parisian store can still mean that product is way out of reach but you never know!
With this in mind, it is our duty to give you the heads up when it comes to shopping in Paris. These rules may alter slightly during the sale but this is essential information that any visitor coming to Paris just has to know. It is also what we observed when we arrived from the UK.
If you truly like the idea of shopping in Paris, you need to know that it is not a 24 hour city! You may be familiar with shops opening at 9am where you are from, but here you can forget it. It is not the way Les Parisians roll!
First of all, independent shops are closed on Monday. So Monday is like a ghost town. Almost every shop owner in the city (apart from the main stores) is chilling out at home while us expats are pounding the streets full of naive expectation. When they start business on Tuesday their doors will open at about 11am unless it’s a major department store in which case it will be earlier. So essentially for the first two potential shopping hours of the day, one has no choice but to sup coffees and eat croissants in the many cafes ready and willing to provide food and shelter to the tourists desperate for retail therapy.
At lunchtime many shop owners take a two-hour break clearly exhausted from the previous hour of work! But you’re shopping spree can be resumed from 2pm until maybe 7.
On a Wednesday afternoon a lot of places are closed because French children do not go to school on that day so trading stops for many a commercial outlet. Sundays? It’s a no-show again (although this is slowly changing) but markets are open all over the city and the Marais is open too if you want to shop there – this part of town is essentially Jewish so for religious reasons Sundays are a winner.
But let us not forget (and you can be sure that after our first year here we never will), that the city is also CLOSED in August. Yes folks, you will find very few independent shops open in this town during the 8th month of the year and some are even closed from the end of July. Why? Because everyone is on a well deserved HOLIDAY! Admittedly the sales will not be on, but it’s worth knowing!
So now you are forewarned and prepared for the shopping challenges that lie ahead.
All that remains for you to do is plan which part of town you want to head to, make a list of things you really need or not! Grab your wallet and make a dash for it.
(this article is written by Mama Loves Paris – A mummy with a mission to capture the best of the city and have loads of fun while doing it! Please visit her page)
NOTE: If you can’t make it to Paris, visit our SHOPLOVE page to find the best online shops (for kids)