There’s nothing quite like traveling to Paris and partaking in some retail therapy. Marais, Saint-Honore, Le Bon Marche, the Flea Market – there are endless options to shop and it can be hard to know what’s worth spending your time and hard earned money on.
If you know me, or you’ve followed along for a while, then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of shopping smarter not necessarily faster or cheaper. I always look at what I like to call the true value of a piece based on not only the price, but the material composition, design, a brands values and sustainability initiatives, fit, construction, and how it will fit into my life and closet. I’m also a stickler for price. Having worked in merchandising and design I’m very familiar with markup and I try to be to be smart about getting what I pay for both emotionally and physically.
Having traveled to Paris a few times now, what I’ve come to realize is that many brands are cheaper to shop in Europe. On average the product is priced anywhere from 20-200 euro less than it is priced in the States. I’ve noticed this mostly with European and Scandinavian brands. On top of the price difference, if you are a US traveler, when you leave Europe, you will get the VAT that is included in all purchases in Europe, back in the form of a refund. This process is known as detax and should be done at the time of purchase and requires your passport. You can find out more here.
With the exchange rate at a particularly favorable level for US travelers, I thought it would be fun to round up some of my favorite brands to shop in Paris and share a few tips for shopping abroad.
Brands I Like To Shop
Celine – There are a handful of luxury brands that I genuinely like all the products across all of their categories (shoes, accessories, clothes, bags etc.). Celine and Saint Laurent (see below) are two of them.
Saint Laurent – Another favorite as I mentioned above. Their Montaigne store was a dream to peruse and had such a large selection of women’s shoes.
Hermés – Another French luxury brand worth shopping if you’re in Paris. Be forewarned, the store can be crazy. I had to wait a solid hour and 20 minutes just to try on a pair of shoes. I overheard that Tuesdays tend to be their less busy day. Depending on what you are purchasing you will save anything from hundreds to thousands of dollars buying it in Paris or Europe.
Sézane – There are several locations in Paris to shop at. You can also shop online and pick it up in store which can be particularly helpful because the stores can be busy. On average you can expect to save $30-$100 shopping in Europe vs. the US
Chanel – Even if you don’t want to buy anything just go in the store and take in the merchandising. It’s art.
Lou Lou Studio – I have been eyeing this brand for months, if not years, and the other day I discovered that they opened their first store in Marais, a stones throw away from Ganni and Kenzo. Everything is beautiful and significantly cheaper than buying it in the States.
Mes Demoiselles – I was first introduced to Mes Demoiselle in a boutique in Sydney and fell in love with their vibe. I wouldn’t say they are my every day go-to, but I always enjoy perusing their more whimsical collections. If your style trends towards a more bohemian vibe, this could be a fun place to check out.
A.P.C – Quintessential French brand to shop at a solid price point. They have tons of locations around the city.
The Frankie Shop – Technically I think TFS was found in NYC, but the founder is French and their other store is in Paris so I always stop in when I visit Paris.
Isabel Marant – I actually haven’t shopped the brand in Paris, but they are on my French brand radar to checkout.
Totême – They don’t have a shop in Paris, but the brand is carried at Le Bon Marche and some of the other department stores. This is a great brand to shop online in Europe!
Attire The Studio – A more recent French favorite of mine. They don’t have a store in Paris, but their pricing is a smidge better in Europe. It’s also easier to return in Paris relative to returning it from the US since you have to cover return shipping yourself. I purchased their Everyday Blazer last year and have gotten so much wear out of it since! I currently have my eye on this top and naturally their crochet dress.
Filippa K – Technically a Scandinavian brand, but after comparing their US and European pricing online, it’s marginally more expensive buying online in the US.
A Few Tips If You’re Planning To Shop Abroad
Tip #2 – If you have been lusting after some luxury pieces, Europe is definitely the place to pick them up for the reasons I listed above. In general most, if not all, luxury brands will be cheaper to buy in Paris/Europe than the US. You can literally save the equivalent of a business class ticket from LAX to CDG buying the luxury bag you’ve been eyeing in Paris instead of the US.
Tip #3 – If you are able to receive deliveries, shopping online is equally rewarding when shopping European brands in Europe due to the price difference. I snagged this sweater from Totême last year for a good $150 less than what it would have cost in the US.
Tip #4 – Always make sure you bring your passport when you shop because you cannot get the detax without it. Also, the detax must be done on the day of the purchase.
Tip #5 – Shop vintage. It is literally a gold mine in Paris. I’m going to do a round up of my favorite vintage shops in a separate post, but for the time being here is my Google Map with ‘vintage’ called out in the notes. You’re welcome.