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France: Paris, Family Vacation Idea – Spring Break Shopping in Paris.Paris Shopping Gare Saint-Lazare For anyone with shopping skills and a love for the sport of shopping, Paris offers the means to create your own kind of fun. The city oozes with possibilities to enjoy window shopping and cafe time or serious shopping for bargains. For Parisians fashion comes naturally and shop windows prove my point - to resist is pointless. 

Here’s the scoop. The French call it “leche-vitrine” which literally means licking the windows but is actually the perfect way to describe the sport of window shopping. I refer to it as a sport because the game is played between shopkeepers and sidewalk foot traffic. The object is to create enticing windows to lure the unsuspecting into the game. I love shopping in Paris because Parisian shopkeepers play the game very well.

The game begins with a simple "bonjour" and concludes with "merci, au revoir" and the rest will falls into place.  From vintage shops, designer’s boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops to haute couture and mega stores, the city rewards shoppers with fashion finds and treasures. Books have been written about shopping in Paris and blogs on the same topic are updated daily. I have assembled a few suggestions to focus shopping energies and serve as a starting point for you to make your own discoveries.Paris Shopping Rue de la Mode Samy Chalon

Shop Duty Free – T.V.A. The value added tax in France for consumer goods is about 19.6%. Non EU residents may reclaim part of the tax by following certain rules of which the most important are making a purchase of 175 euro in the same shop on the same day; stay less than three months in EU at time of purchase; have passport validated by customs within three months of purchase. Détaxe forms are available in most shops and large department stores have special détaxe desks to facilitate the process.
Store Hours.   Department stores usually are open longer than boutiques and small shops which often follow the 10 am to 7 pm rule. It is best to plan shopping adventures for Tuesday through Saturday because Sunday is an off day for everyone (except for a few places in Marais are) and Monday is often off as well.
Begin at Le Bon. The Marais is one of the city’s best places to stroll and shop because it offers blocks of clever shops, boutiques, and an assortment of French-owned chains. Here’s a deal. Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps each offer 10 % off discount cards to non-resident foreign visitors. To get the benefit go to the welcome desk on the main floor at either store. For proof a passport or driver’s license is essential.
Bon Marché – the chicest department store. No shopping trip to Paris is complete without popping into the Bon. Since 1852 it has set the pace for shoppers offering just about everything. It is sort of like the Bloomingdales of Paris complete with a marvelous gourmet grocery store. (24 rue de Sevres, 7e St-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. 01 44 39 80 00 or

Clignancourt – a.k.a. Marché aux Puces St-Ouen. This century-old labyrinth of antique shops and stalls spans over more than a square mile and offers plenty of opportunities to use serious bargaining skills. The market is only open Saturday to Monday during the day and no two weekends will ever be the same. Best advice - go early and stay alert. (Porte de Clignancourt at

Red Wheelbarrow – the Anglophone bookstore. The name says it all. This shop is for book lovers. They have a lovely collection of special edition books as well as a wide selection of books for children & teens.  (22 rue St. Paul, 4c, Marais, Paris. Tel: 01 48 04 75 08)

Dary’s – the best place for jewelry lovers. This stop demands time because the walls and populated with row after row of antique jewels from every era, modern secondhand jewelry, and drawers of vintage treasures. (362 rue St-Honoré, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries, Paris.  01 42 60 95 23)

Vintage Desir – revived fashion & styles. Located along a small street filled with Moroccan and Greek restaurants and bakeries, Vintage Desire is perhaps the best place for slightly used and vintage clothes. The selection is enticing; prices are reasonable; it's possible to negotiate if you buy a few items. (32 rue des Rosiers, Marais/Bastille, Paris. 01 40 27 04 98) 

La Jolie Garde-Robe - a vintage delight.  This shop a Parisian's well kept secret that channels the spirits of Belle du Jour and Holly Golightly in a choice collection of ready-to-wear and haute couture from the '50s to the '90s. (15, rue Commines M° Filles-du-Calvaire, Paris. 01 42 72 13 90)Paris Street Shopping

Free 'P' Star - best for budget-savvy fashionistas. Amid the chaos there are plenty hip, treasures to be discovered that will not erode your budget. Two locations provide choices and rewards. (61 rue de la Verrerie, 4e, Paris. Tel: 01-42-78-00-75 or 8 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4e, Paris. 01-42-76-03-72)

Marché d'Aligre – market to market. Every day except Mondays, this authentic Parisian market in the Bastille area displays tempting wares.  Only open until 1 pm this is the place to begin a shopping adventure. Don't miss the covered hall and the luscious olive-oil boutique with its assortment of exceptional oils from top producers. (Rue d'Aligre, 12e, Bastille/Nation, Paris, 75012. metro Ledru-Rollin)

Vanessa Bruno – showcasing feminine dressing.  Bruno offers her followers clothing with a dash of whimsy. Separates offer not just gorgeous colors but also thoughtful proportions geared to sexy. Dresses are sophisticated and the shoes very tempting. Athé, the diffusion line, is extremely popular with budget minded. Several locations offer delightful choices. (Rue de Castiglione, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries, Paris. Tel: 01 42 61 44 60; 25 rue St-Suplice, 6e, Latin Quarter. Tel: 01 43 54 41 04; 100 rue Vieille du Temple, 3e, Marais. 01 42 77 19 41 or

Content researched and written by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Editor FTF. Images provided by Amelie Dupont on behalf of the Paris Bureau of Tourism.  Note: This information was accurate at time of posting but often shops change locations or owners. To alleviate stress please be sure to confirm details before planning your trip. Copyright 2013.

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