They call Paris the City of Lights. For me, the city was like one massive museum. I love the architecture, the narrow laneways and the doors, the huge decorative doors. So much history and so many stories. There was so much food to choose from – crepes and hot dogs from the street vendors, croissants, and pastries from the patisseries; there is nothing like a fresh hot pastry.
There are so many different restaurants, from traditional French food, seafood, Italian, Lebanese, Greek and many more. Pop into a deli and grab a baguette, cheese, prosciutto and a fresh fruit salad. You can spend as much or as little as you want.
That’s only a snippet of what I fell in love with; I was in my element.
Now let’s chat about the shopping – Where did I go? What did I see?
My first stop was Saint Germaine Boulevard. It’s a pretty little area and was very close to where we were staying. So, when hubby felt he needed a rest, I headed out for a stroll on my own. There was a mix of high-end luxury stores, down to the quirky vintage shops.
I veered off the main Boulevard and discovered so many little book shops and small art galleries and even came across a milliner. You can just go for a stroll and find many well-known brands, so you don’t have to go the huge shopping centres if they overwhelm you.
Whilst strolling around the streets of Paris we came across Rue Vielle Du Temple in the Marias district. A street of outdoor cafes, restaurants and plenty of shopping! Most brands are represented along this historic street. I popped onto Maje, a French brand, and made a little purchase. Then popped into Ted baker and bought hubby a t-shirt.
This shopping strip is another great alternative if you don’t like the huge department stores and just love being outside and want to window shop
It’s vintage heaven in the Kilo stores in Paris. The prices were good but you do need to rummage around and you need to have heaps of time. They were very crowded and when I was there it was an exceptionally hot day, which made it uncomfortable and hard to really look around, as garments and accessories were jammed in everywhere.
You didn’t buy by the piece as most of the clothing was weighed and you pay by the Kilo. The furs, coats and heavy jackets were individually priced though. I would have needed to allocate a full day just to visit the two Kilo stores – and definitely without hubby.
Galleries La Fayette, which is a very upmarket department store, has an amazing domed ceiling and is full of unbelievable brand stores and goods. The day we visited it was very busy with queues of people just waiting to go into the designer stores.
It can be overwhelming if you’re not a shopper! If you want to purchase something think about what you may want before going on your adventure, compare prices and don’t forget to consider the exchange rate.
After going from floor to floor looking at all the different brands and the new season collections for the Autumn/winter season, hubby needed a break so we headed to the roof deck and relaxed with a coffee and another pastry as we admired the stain glassed dome and looked out the window to a fabulous view of Paris.
We visited the department store Le BVH Marias, situated in a beautiful building on a corner. There we were greeted by a friendly concierge who directed us to the information desk where we were given a 10 percent discount voucher to be used on any purchase, including sales goods.
Le BVH Marais was easy to get around and you can take your time searching for a bargain. If you’re not a shopper but would like to buy yourself something special, then Le BHV is for you. It’s not over whelming, there are plenty of helpful staff and many brands to choose from. It was rare to find a real bargain but I was lucky enough to find a red leather Kate Spade bag and I enjoyed spending a bit of time in the baby section, looking for something different for the grand babies
These are just a few of the shopping spots I came across on my trip!
It’s worth remembering to get your tax back if you spend more than 175 euros (approx $284.00) in one purchase. You must have your passport at the time of purchase. The store assistant filled out my forms for me and that is why some people prefer to shop in the department stores – you can accumulate all you purchases made in the one day and have it taken care of by the store. But that takes a lot of planning.
On leaving France we arrived at the airport early so I had time to go to customs prior to check in. I had to show the goods purchased and then they stamped my documents. One of my refunds was in cash while another was via credit card, which I’m still waiting for. Apparently it can take up to 12 weeks…
Next time I will always choose a cash refund which is given in the spot. Just remember to allow plenty of time for any of these activities but it can be worth it if you’ve spent a lot!