Shopping In France
France is the ultimate shopping destination for the sophisticated consumer. It offers everything from the ultimate in haute couture to perfumes to wines and cheeses. And shopping in France is not the
utilitarian experience it can be elsewhere. Rather it’s a serious activity that demands attention and a certain flair.
First we look at Paris where the shops make up an important part of the fabric of the city’s cultural identity. Then we’ll head to Bordeaux which offers more than just its famous wines.
Shopping In Paris
Think of Paris and you think of designer fashions, perfumes, and accessories with brand names famous for their chic the world over. But of course they come with hefty price tags. Here’s a tip. Bargain seekers should do their window shopping at the grand fashion houses to get a feel of what’s in vogue. Then head to the budget shops and markets to get similar items at pennies on the dollar.
If you’re short on time you can get all your designer labels under one roof at one of the large French department stores. The two queens, les grands magasins Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, sit side-by-side on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement. Fully exploring them could take days.
If you want the real Paris shopping experience, head for one of the unique wonders of the city – the galleries or passages. These are glass-roofed shopping arcades that date back to the 19th century. They ooze charm and transform rainy days into episodes of romance and discovery.
Don’t’ forget that Sundays are closing days for most stores in Paris. But fear not, one of the city’s many flea markets will provide a great alternative shopping experience.
Shopping In Bordeaux
Bordeaux is truly one of Europe’s best kept shopping secrets. In the scenic charm of the city you’ll find the world’s most popular brand names: Cartier and Rolex for watches, Hermes and Christian Lacroix for fabrics and clothes, Louis Vuitton for luggage, Mont Blanc for pens, the list is endless.
Bordeaux is home to the longest pedestrianised street in Europe. Rue St. Catherine runs from the stately Place de la Comedie to the student district near the place de la Victoire. And its entire length is graced with some of the country’s premier shopping outlets.
Bordeaux’s epicenter for shopping is known fittingly as the Golden Triangle. This triangle contains the prime shopping zones of the Allées de Tourny, the Cours de l’Intendance and the Cours Clemenceau. In its heart is the Place des Grands-Hommes, where you’ll find Bordeaux’s most prestigious outlets.
If such luxury doesn’t tempt you, don’t worry. Bordeaux is home to a plethora of chain stores that offer good value purchases. And the local boutiques offer distinctive items without the brand name mark ups.
And of course don’t forget the wine. The Bordeaux region is France’s premier wine making area and you can get sublime local vintages by the bottle or by the case.