How to have the best shopping experience in Paris

When it comes to shopping in Paris, there's plenty to see, but have you ever considered the bargains you can find at a French shopping mall?

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Person holding black handbag with decorative strap

It’s no secret that in Paris you can drop some serious dollar on your shopping habits. Yet did you know Paris is somewhat less known for its shopping malls? Believe it or not, they’re an incredible place to pick up designer bargains.  Intrigued? Read on.

There’s no doubt about it. The French, or more specifically, the Parisians are some of the chicest people out there. Always dressed to the nines looking effortlessly cool, they adorn themselves in designers like Sonia Rykiel, Comme Des Garcons and Chanel. 

So, if you’re wanting to walk and talk like a true Parisian one would think that you’d need to get out that wallet and start spending. But hold the phone big spender, as boy do we have a surprise for you! It’s a lesser known fact that Paris is home to some of the best outlets malls in Europe, that stock the biggest French brands. 

With discounts of around 30 - 75% off, you’ll be walking through the streets of Paris after a shopping session, thinking you’re the next Brigitte Bardot. 

There are however enough outlet shops and department stores to cause a headache, so we’ve got the lowdown on which ones are worth going to. 

Outlet Shopping in Paris: from APC to Citypharma

APC is a French brand founded in 1987 by Jean Touitou. Sold on websites like Net-A-Porter and Farfetch, this French brand is praised for its belief that ‘clothes should not overshadow the personality of the wearer’. 

In light of this, the designs are understated and relaxed yet somehow also manage to emulate utter luxury (think well-tailored cuts and high-quality materials). It’s no surprise therefore that the label has become incredibly popular. So if you’re wanting to recreate the Parisian look, APC should be your go-to brand. However, with prices of something as simple as a denim jacket fetching around £400, a couple of items from APC will set you back some serious cash. 

But fear not, a quick trip to Saint-Germain-Des-Pres offers APC clothing at a minimum of 30% off at their outlet store. It definitely won’t be a wasted trip as once you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped, the area of Saint-Germain-Des-Pres offers plenty of other beautiful things to explore. From traditionally French patisseries to haute-couture shops and art galleries hidden amongst quaint squares, it’s the perfect spot to get lost in and people-watch. 

If beauty and wellbeing are more your thing, let us introduce you to your new best friend - Citypharma. 

Picture a combination a regular pharmacy mixed with a beauty and a homoeopathy store...but everything all heavily discounted. So for those looking to get their hands on top French branded beauty products at a fraction the price, make sure you’ve not been skipping arm day at the gym because carrying home all your bargains will require strength. Be warned though - it’s the only discount pharmacy in Paris so don’t just turn up unprepared. 

Not only do large queues gather during peak hours, but stock depletes faster than you can say ‘Plum Guide’. So to make the most out of your trip to Citypharma and get there at opening time (which is 8.30am on weekdays and 9 am on Saturdays) to avoid fighting with locals as to who gets first dibs on the last hairspray. 

According to beauty bloggers, the Caudalie aisle gets particularly busy, so think about what you may want to purchase in advance. Rumour has it that if you browse for too long in this aisle, you’ll get some stern looks from avid shoppers to hasten you on your way upstairs to pay. 

Brands sold include Avene, Klorane, La Roche Posay, Nuxe and Biotherm and are re-stocked throughout the day but as mentioned above, queues form quickly here so make sure you plan enough time to visit in advance. Situated in the same area as the APC outlet, you can’t miss Citypharma with its neon sign and herd of people outside. 

If APC and Citypharma have whet your appetite for more outlet shopping, and a trip to Bicester Village simply won’t cut it, Paris is also home to plenty of other amazing outlet stores that are dedicated to just one brand. 

By this, we mean that high-end brands like Zadig & Voltaire, Kookai, Sonia Rykiel and Chloe have their own outlet shops (the latter is said to have a top-secret password that grants entry!). 

So take your pick to see what designer bargains you can find in Paris and travel home with a new wardrobe that oozes that Parisian flair.

A Rough Guide to French Department Stores

Once you’ve scoured your way through all the outlet stores Paris has to offer, try a French department store for a more luxurious shopping trip. Parisian department stores are a must-see for anyone visiting the city of romance not just because of the amazing shops on offer but also because of the French history lesson they crave to teach you. 

The renowned Le Bon Marche, founded in 1838, was the first ever modern department store. It offered a place where both men and women could browse a multitude of boutiques all in one place, sample perfumes with no compulsory purchase and the chance to view the latest fashion on catwalks displayed throughout the shopping centre. 

It’s department stores like this that have revolutionised the modern shopping mall as we know it and is why so many tourists flock to Paris. So if you’re wanting a shopping experience like no other that’s filled with great eateries, fashion houses and stunning architecture all in one place, add a trip to Le Bon Marche to your itinerary pronto. 

BHV, Galeries Lafayette, Les Halles and Printemps are all widely known as being great department stores to visit. 

BHV is a great one for those looking for all sorts of shops. From Aesop to Levis and Adidas, there’s something for all ages and price ranges. Nestled in the district known as Le Marais, a trip to BHV also allows you the opportunity to wander around this area. 

It’s here the medieval-looking tiny Parisian streets host enough cafes, restaurants and Willy Wonka-esque chocolatiers to make you feel full at just the sight of them. To put it in layman's terms, it’s a stop off foodies can’t miss.

Still on the lookout for more shopping? Head over to Printemps where you’ll not only experience more jaw-droppingly beautiful architecture but a plethora of shops from affordable brands to high-end designers. You may also want to plan a return visit to Paris for when La Samaritaine re-opens after a huge renovation since its closure in 2005. 

Marne la Vallee Village: Put Your Spending Power To The Test 

If you think we’ve exhausted telling you about all the French shopping malls, you’re in for a treat as we’ve saved the best for last. Marne La Vallee Village is shopping heaven for those known as having a weak-spot for designers. 

It’s here you’ll literally find an A - Z of famous brands that each have their own shop selling ex-season discounted goods. To name just a few; Celine, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Lacoste and Michael Kors just about scratch the surface as to what can be found in this shopping mecca. With all those listed above having stock discounted at a minimum of 30% off, don’t be surprised if you return home with an empty wallet. (N.B: Plum Guide cannot be held responsible for any financial losses you experience at the Le Vallee Village - visit at your own peril!). 

Having such an abundance of shops on offer, you’ll be able to walk off that post-lunch pastry you picked up from Laduree whilst still managing to work up an appetite for a bite to eat from one of the eight different eateries. Tourists that like familiarity will be pleased to know that one of these eight is unsurprisingly...a Starbucks. 

Technically situated 40 minutes outside of Paris, it’s well worth the effort to get there. We can assure you that you won’t even remember the Parisian traffic once you’ve arrived. For those travelling with family, it should comfort you to know that your shopping trip can be made stress free with services on offer, like a children's play area and hands free shopping. With no shopping bags to worry about, you can focus all your attention on your new babies, and by that we mean those new Louboutins you’ve just bought at 40% off.

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