French Level 1|
When you think of Paris, you think of "haute-couture"...... Labels like, Christian Dior, Yves St.-Laurent, and Chanel are immeasurably expensive and beyond the budget of most shoppers. It is however incredibly fun to window shop near "Place de la Concorde" where you will see many boutiques, or "maison de coutures".
The newest French designers can be found at Le Marais, near the Bastille where you will find amazing clothing, which are the emerging fashion trends at an affordable price. (M. Charon REALLY appreciates the affordable part!) chez "les boutiques de vêtements". One example of these places is "Popy Moreni".
More casual items (like jeans and t-shirts can be found at "les boutiques de soldes" or discount stores, such as "La Braderie," "Moutons à cinq pattes", "Mi-Prix", "L'Astucerie" (a shop with clothing previously worn by models and sold for half the normal retail price).
"Au Bon Marché" et "La Galeries Lafayette" were actually the world's first department stores and unlike their American counter-parts, have shoe repair, post offices, and internet cafés. These "Cyber cafés" are an affordable way to keep in touch with home by checking your e-mail regularly.
Another feature that makes "La Galeries Lafayette" so fabulous is a system where all purchases are put onto a "shopping card"and you pick up your packages and pay the balance owed when you've completed ALL of your shopping. M. Charon says, "It sure beats dragging that heavy stuff around from floor to floor (that's eight floors in all!)
If you don't mind used clothing, you can find great deals at "La Marché au Puces" (flea market). You have to search hard to find the gems, but it will be worthwhile if you have the time!
If you can't stand the idea of going home without a Chanel suit but you know that it is not well within your budget, your only other option is a consignment store. People take their used clothing to one of these stores where the items are sold at a fraction of their original prices. There are wonderful consignment stores in the U.S. as well, but Parisian stores sell items that are....well, Parisian! The only downfall is that original prices are astronomical (F150.000 or $30,000!) so even at "Réciproque" (a store found at 23 rue de la Pompe) you will be paying around F12.500 or $2,500+. (M. Charon doesn't like the prices here AT ALL!)
The only other item that you cannot leave Paris without buying is fragrance! French formulas are made from different compounds than their U.S. counterparts. There are also new scents that are only found in Paris. "Sephora" has its main store at 70 avenue Champs-Élysées (right near M. Charon's favorite shopping spot, "Virgin Megastore") and although branches of "Sephora" are now found in the U.S., it is a wonder to see the main location or "flagship" store. Be prepared to take your time and you will find amazing stuff!
As far as items to take home, or "souvenirs" are concerned, my favorite idea are Eiffel Tours made from French bread that you can purchase at "Boulangerie St.-Ouen" at 111 blvd. Haussmann. If you tell them that you want to preserve it and not eat it, they will coat it with something to keep it good forever. It only costs about F50 or $10.00 and is a great deal!