Shop apparently!!! I had no idea Galèries Lafayette is the second most visited tourist attraction in Paris (just behind the Louvre!) Of course, I am shopping in Paris so totally understand the appeal.
It does explain why the ground floor at Galèries Lafayette is a madhouse – and why I stood in line for almost two hours to buy a purple Longchamp bag last year. Never buy Longchamp at Galèries Lafayette! Go to the flagship store on Faubourg St Honoré instead.
If you don’t have a lot of time, though, Galèries Lafayette is Paris shopping in a nutshell. The temple to shoes on the -1 level is especially worth a visit – the best selection of the Paris department stores – and Pierre Hermé macarons as extra enticement (the tax-free desk is also conveniently located on this level 😉
I am wearing my funky new shoes as I type this. They didn’t have my size at Galèries Lafayette but on my scoping mission I knew I could also get them at Printemps 🙂 They are from accessoire diffusion – fake snakeskin loafers stamped in lurid purple, fuschia and aqua – no snake looks like that of course but I am sure there is some young fashionista python out there wishing she looked like my shoes 🙂
There are two reasons I always shop for shoes in Paris. The first is that you have a lot greater choice of wild styling. The second is the assortment of medium-prized brands that deliver quality and style at a non-designer price point. accessoire diffusion is one of my favourite mid-price French labels. Others to look out for – parallèle, carel, JB Martin, Elizabeth Stuart, mirorquines.
These posts tend to have a mind of their own but this one has focused on shopping so I am going to stay there. Paris is one of the world’s shopping meccas. The others are London and New York. Hong Kong might also fit that profile but I haven’t been there for decades, back when I had no spare cash so I generally got out of the six story malls as fast as possible 🙂
As already noted, if you don’t have much time, hitting one of the Paris department stores provides a mini version of everything the city has to offer. I think it’s good to hit at least one department store to find brands that appeal and then you can look for freestanding stores to get more of a good thing.
Nowadays, most brands have a presence on both the right and left bank so you can choose. The left was my first love and I would highly encourage you to explore it. The best things to buy in Paris are shoes, perfume, lingerie, food and alcohol (wine, cognac, armanagac…)
If shoes are your thing, check out rue de Grenelle and rue du Dragon (where I found a shop for annabel
winship – a new discovery and very worth checking out – I now own black suede peep-toe medium heel pumps strewn with multi-coloured stars and embossed in gold – Paris shoes for sure 😉 Rue de Buci will ignite your appetite. Rue St Sulpice offers lots of options for cool Parisian chic that won’t break the bank.
Most of my greatest discoveries in Paris have come from wandering… the French do retail better than any other nation. They know how to display goods. The salespeople actually engage with the customers – and refold the sweaters immediately! And each purchase is lovingly wrapped often with great fanfare. It’s retail from a distant time when purchases were infrequent and memorable.
Paris is slow fashion. It is retail as theatre. It’s moments like the salesperson at Printemps admiring the shoes you are wearing – as you try on the python fashionista ensemble. I said, “they are Kurt Geiger from London. I have worn them so much there are holes in the toes.” But it will be tough to throw them away. I had a gay guy want to trade shoes with me in a wine shop one day. Maybe he was a straight guy who really liked shoes 🙂 But gay guys admiring your shoes is much more fashion cred.
You, too, could have fashion cred. Just buy your shoes in Paris 😉 Or London…
p.s. Kurt Geiger shoes are black velvet smoking slippers adorned with spikes that look like very chic medieval weapons…