As promised, this is part 2 of my Paris trip, all about our shopping excursions. From the get-go, my friend and I had planned on this trip being focused less on sight-seeing and more on shopping, so we budgeted accordingly. I saved up and had a spending limit in mind, which I thankfully didn’t go too much over (which was more because of food and transportation overages anyways). Paris has oodles of high glamour (and pricey) stores, which we did some browsing through, but my main focus was finding unique, affordable pieces. Here is my brief guide on shopping in Paris on a budget.
My family told me long ago that bringing back souvenirs was unnecessary for them, but every so often I pick up something fun for a unique Christmas or birthday present. I tend to avoid the touristy shops of t-shirts and keychains and lean towards shops with hand-crafted items that cater to my family or friend’s interest. Walking around Paris, you will happen upon many family-owned shops with art, antiques, and textiles. The artistic district of Montmartre had quite a few shops of this nature. Just don’t get too frustrated with days of availability. Many of the shops had odd hours and days they were open, so we had to go back when one piqued our interest.
If you are looking for a last minute gift, the shops at Place du Tertre are nice. It’s touristy, but they have some nice galleries with local artists, cute knick knacks, and it’s a great place to sit down at a cafe and people watch.
Thrift Shopping: $
Just like back home, there are second-hand/donation shops all across the city, with hidden gems among the racks. We happened upon a few walking around, and I found some great pieces, all under 10€ each! You really have to search among the racks, but with a little patience you can find some great pieces. I found a great wrap dress, swing coat, and pleated skirt, while my friend stocked up on scarves and shift dresses.
Boutique Shops: $$
Throughout the city we noticed boutique s with some really pretty and whimsical clothing. I noticed a lot of retro prints and classic silhouettes that were calling my name, but the prices for these small stores were still out of my range for what saved up. Not too terrible though, these are great places to find a fun piece for your wardrobe. I’d still recommend checking the ones out they catch your interest even if your budget is small, you never know when you’ll find a great item in the sale section! One such boutique we really enjoyed was Sezane, which is quite popular at the moment. My friend invested in some beautiful espadrilles (with a special offer including a straw tote) and I bought some divine “Figue Amour” Eau de Toilette.
Mall Shopping: $$$
Bon Marche and Galeries Lafayette are better than your average shopping mall. Glamorous with its glittering ceilings, marble countertops and artfully decorated displays, it’s a fun experience just to walk through and look at the beautiful clothing from all the designers. If you’re on a budget, this really isn’t the place to shop unless you saved your pennies for one truly outstanding piece. However, my friend left toting her little Chanel shopping bag, a pretty lipstick inside for 30€.
One of the most iconic places to shop is on Champs-Élysées which is lined with luxury boutiques like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. These shops are beautiful sights to see, but for a shopper on a budget they are merely window shopping. However, this shopping avenue also has more affordable shops, which my friend and I ventured in to. I enjoyed shopping at Etam for beautiful (and affordable) lingerie, and Zara for the latest fashion.
There are oodles and oodles of small shops throughout Paris with great wine and food items. You can easily find affordable wine or champagne that is a good quality, but if I had bought any, it wouldn’t have made it back home before I drank it, haha! Check out food restrictions for air travel before you buy, but you can find many items to bring home and savor with family or friends. I usually like to bring back items like coffee, chocolate, jams and wine from France, since my favorite, cheese, doesn’t keep well. It’s fun to ask the vendors what their recommendations are, because they have no qualms telling you they don’t like what you picked out even if they are selling it.
If you want a classique Parisian treat to bring home, go to Ladurée for some pretty pastel macaroons, or Angelique’s for hot chocolate in the glass bottles that you can warm up at home.
On this shopping trip, we didn’t explore any antique shops (not for lack of trying…like I said, weird shop hours) but some places to go year-round are Les Puces de Montreuil, Marche aux de St-Ouen and Marche Beauvau. I recommend researching before you head to Paris to see what pop-up markers will be around during your trip as well. Antique dealing is a popular trade in France, so hunting for a good deal can take some patience. Some antique showrooms are so cultivated that you are better off admiring and window shopping.