Shopping in Paris is the shopping equivalent of finding your soul mate. Paris is seductive; it has an allure and elegance unlike any other city. The problem is, as a shopping soul mate, it tends be slightly more fickle than your new main squeeze.
When Shopping in Paris, you’ll find that:
1. You romanticize even the everyday, familiar things in life (it’s not just a sweater, its a French sweater).
2. You find yourself trying to be the absolute best version of yourself (you may be wearing sweats and a ponytail to brunch at home, but in Paris, lipstick is necessary for answering the door for room service).
3. You try to fill your days with special excursions, and deem all of the little gems you frequent one of “our places”.
Who can blame you?
For a city with a reputation for being the epicenter of style, it is easy to find yourself under-whelmed by fast-fashion chains and crushed amongst other tourists, sifting through the same H&M peasant blouses you could have found at home.
The good news is, you no longer have to be a savvy local to uncover real fashion finds and deals. Prepare to fall head over heels with our guide to the It boutiques and private sales of Upper (upscale and high-end) Underground (authentic and original) Paris.
This trendy area is mentioned in nearly every shopping guide to Paris – and for good reason. Walking through the winding streets of Le Marais will lead you past shops for clothing and shoes one after another, after another, and most popular mid-sized French labels have locations in this district (including Maje, Sandro, Iro and Mellow Yellow). But what will really make your heart skip a beat is that most of these brands have stock stores, selling past seasons looks at heavily discounted prices. Sandro, Zadig & Voltaire and others all have stock shops just around the corner from them.
In addition to the more well known lines (Bloomingdales just started carrying select pieces from Maje and Sandro), Le Marais is also home to Parisian boutiques lesser-known to the American fashionista. If it’s the boho glam look you want, you need to know about Manoush. Feminine, whimsical and flirty, walking into this store feels like a cross between the closets of Marie Antoinette and Mick Jagger. Ruffles, sequins and pops of pink, mixed with leather, studs and rocker boots. It’s only a matter of time before this delicious line explodes onto party girls and celebutantes here in the states – it’s that good.
Another favorite is Kinji, a tiny boutique featuring clothes from Korea. The small space is filled with dresses in sherbet colors, adorned with metallic lace, neon cameos and deco-inspired glittery beading – all easily mistakable for Miu Miu without the clunky price tag (dresses run from 80 to 160 Euros). Not exactly classic French style, but the French-Korean owner chooses pieces that look so Paris and feel so unique.
What you lose in quantity, you make up for in quality in this pocket of streets just blocks from the Bastille metro stop. Walking the streets here feels quieter and significantly less touristy, and just when you think you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, signage for the Isabel Marant boutique reminds you that you’re in exactly the right place. While you can find her clothes at Barneys and smaller high-end boutiques stateside, a trip to Isabel Marant is still worth it. Viewing the entire collection, including runway pieces, bags, shoes and accessories really reveals how and why she has become such a darling in the fashion world. The look is urban French cowgirl (with that cool girl flair) – and nowhere else in Paris did we see leather, rhinestones or stud detailing done better.
A few steps down from Isabel Marant is Oxyde, a shop carrying clothing with clean lines and ladylike details (our favorite pieces are a navy blouse with large ruffles down each sleeve a la Chloe, and long chiffon skirts in rich camels and khakis). The standout pieces of the store, however, are the shoes – which seem to make every skirt or top really make sense and pop. Leopard print espadrille lace ups and fringe ankle boots – all from 90s label No Name – feel fresh, fun (and comfortable!)
Outlets & Private Sales
The best private sales and designer outlet stores in Paris don’t lie in just one neighborhood, but are definitely worth zig zagging across the city to find.
The Chloe outlet store was by far our favorite. Racks and racks of spring coats, trenches, embellished dresses and lace blouses can be had for 50% off (some at 70%) as well as a strong selection of flats, sandals and sunnies. The major score here though are the bags. Large sized Marcie, Elise and Paraty styles all available for around 800 Euros, and smaller patent cross bodies were on sale for 350 Euros. One of a kind and runway bags also lined the shelves and were tagged with shockingly low pricetags – albeit a couple seasons old. (Word of caution, upon entering we were told that the store was only for private customers. We explained that a friend had told us about the store, and with a few mumbled words in French and an eye roll, we were allowed in. Saying something of the same and you shouldn’t really have a problem if you act like you should be there.)
Another outlet worth seeking out is Alaia. Hidden from the street (it’s located in the courtyard of the design house’s headquarters), this tiny space features a limited number of items, but all at 50% lower than retail. Because of the size of the space, it’s hit or miss, but when we went there were quite a few pairs of lust-worthy boots and belts as well.
Way off the beaten path from basically anything that would beacon even the most adventurous tourist is the Sonia Rykiel stock store. Located just a few blocks from the Alesia metro stop, the space is larger than most outlet stores and has a really wide selection of clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry. Discounts are up to 50%, with newer items discounted less.
On same street, Rue Alesia, you’ll find Zapa Paris, Stock Chevignon and other stock or outlet shop (the word ‘stock’ or ‘degriffe’ will be posted somewhere on the window.) From the outside, these stores can look questionable – bad, even. You have to be willing to dig. We ended up with a metallic knit t-shirt and an embroidered Kenzo sweatshirt – both great buys.
The Must Guide:
9, Rue du Cherche Midi, in the 6th.
26, Rue de Sévigné, in the 4th.
Stock Zadig et Voltaire
22, Rue du Bourg Tibourg, in the 4th.
75, Rue Vieille du Temple, in the 4th
52, Rue de la Verrerie, in the 4th
16, Rue de Charonne, in the 11th
28, Rue de Charonne, in the 11th
5-7, Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, in the 11th
Stock Azzeline Alaïa
18, Rue de la Verrerie, in the 4th
Sonia Rykiel SR Store
64, Rue d’Alésia, in the 14th
*To streamline your shopping if you have limited time, another option is to hire a private shopper. Juliette Kruh, at Philosophy Paris is a go-to person for private sales. You can contact her at email@example.com
Written by Guest Contributors Iris Friedman and Chloe Popescu for EuropeUpClose.com