The possibilities for shopping in Paris are unlimited. The city is considered the fashion capital of the world, offering many stores and boutiques for luxury shopping, haute couture and exclusive jewellery, but it is also possible to do shopping in Paris avoiding the prohibitive prices if you know how to move.
Paris, like the rest of France is not cheap, in fact, the word cheap does not exist in the French language and the expression used by the French for that purpose is “moins cher” which means less expensive, so we can get an idea that to visit the capital it is necessary to have an extra budget in comparison with other large European cities.
Below you will find a guide divided into sections on luxury, mid-range and cheap shopping in Paris, and a recommendation of the best and most typical gifts and souvenirs.
Parisian Chic & Luxury
Let’s start our Parisian shopping itinerary through the famous Champs-Élysées, which is one of the most exclusive shopping areas of the city where we can find the most prestigious stores and luxury brands, such as the world famous Dior, Chanel, Louise Vuitton.
The Avenue Montaigne and Rue Royale are well established destinations in high-level tourism where we can also find all kinds of luxury items and prestigious brands of designers who succeed on the catwalks, such as Prada, Hermès or Yven Saint Laurent among others.
The spectacular shopping mall Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann and Printemps (located in Boulevard Haussmann) would complete the top sites of exclusive places for shopping in the French capital. They are definitely worth visiting even if you don’t buy anything, simply for the beautiful and sophisticated design of their interiors and display cases, which make you breathe the famous Parisian chic.
Popular shopping districts with more affordable prices where you can actually buy some fashionable clothes, elegant accessories or refined items, are the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain and Saint-Michelle, which are also full of the typical Parisian cafés to have a pleasant rest.
Guide of Markets in Paris
Paris is famous for its flea markets where tourists gather from all over the world in search of bargains: antiquities, unique vintage clothes and artisan products of all kinds.
(1) Les Puces de Saint-Ouen – The Biggest Flea Market
Don’t miss the biggest antique market in the world: the flea market Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt, popularly called just Les Puces. It is the most popular flea market in Paris and you can find there everything from antiques to second-hand clothes to and decorative accessories suitable for all budgets. It is extremely huge, and the number of visitors exceeds even 170,000 on a busy weekend! You can find a lot of bargains in its numerous stalls. If you are looking for vintage Parisian clothes, check out boutiques along Rue des Rosiers, where you will find the most sophisticated clothing of the most famous brands of the world of fashion.
It’s always better to go there in the morning, as it gets overly crowded in the afternoon.
Address: Les Puces de Saint-Ouen – Porte de Clignancourt, Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint Ouen (metro Line 4 – Porte de Clignancourt)
Opening Hours: Saturday 9 am – 6 pm, Sunday 10 am to 6 pm, Monday 11 am to 5 pm (but not all the stalls open on Monday)
You absolutely have to visit one of the most iconic views of Paris: the Bouquinistes – the sellers of second-hand books, sketches, pictures, vintage postcards and posters installed along Rive Gauche – the left bank of the Seine. Their small, old-fashioned stalls are charming and they have some real treasures on sale!
(3) Porte de Montreuil Flea Market
You will find another flea market in Porte de Montreuil, with low prices, and everything from clothes to watches and from shoes to sets of coffee cups.
Address: Marche aux Puces de Montreuil – Avenue du Professeur André Lemierre, 75020 Paris
Opening Hours: Saturday, Sunday, Monday 8 am to 7:30 pm
(4) Marché d’Aligre – Food Market & Cheap Clothes and Objects
Another useful market is historical Marché d’Aligre, one of the oldest markets of Paris. You will find there a good range of quality food products at very convenient prices, but also bric-a-brac – miscellaneous objects for collectors and not only, as well as second-hand clothes and cheap African clothes.
Address: Rue d’Aligre et, Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris
Opening Hours: Daily except Mondays, 9 am – 1 pm, 4 pm – 7:30 pm
(5) Marché Bastille – Big Food Market
Marché Bastille is one of the biggest markets in Paris, with great food – especially superior quality cheese, cold meats and wine, as well as cheap African clothes, handbags and accessories.
Address: 8 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris
Opening Hours: Thursday 7 am – 2:30 pm, Sunday 7 am – 3 pm
(6) Île de la Cité – Charming Flower and Bird Market
The beautiful and central Île de la Citè market is open all year round and is one of the busiest in the city. It’s a flower market daily, except Sundays when it turns into birds market, with hundreds of species of birds on display – just a curiosity for a tourist to get a glimpse of something truly Parisian.
Address: Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux Cité – Place Louis Lépine, Ile de la Cité, Paris
Opening Hours: daily 8 am to 7:30 pm
Souvenirs, Gifts and Typical Products from Paris
Tourists looking for gifts, souvenirs and typical products can satisfy all their shopping needs in Montmartre, which is the shopping area par excellence and includes numerous gift shops, art galleries and shops with more or less artistic items.
Those who prefer to give to their loved ones some of the typical products of the world-famous French gastronomy such as cheese, wines or macarons and chocolates, can buy them in aforementioned markets, food stores or supermarkets throughout the city.
11 Ideas for a gift or souvenir from Paris
1. Vintage Poster from the Bouquinistes
The Bouquinistes are the street vendors of old books, sketches, pictures, vintage postcards and posters depicting Parisian lifestyle. A classic old-fashioned poster like the reproduction of “Le Chat Noir” will make a refined gift or souvenir for art lovers.
2. Painting from Montmartre
Montmartre is famous all around the world as the iconic site of painters and sketch artists painting and selling their pictures on the cobbled streets of this district. You can find there both marvellous paintings and kitsch portraits, but one thing is for sure: the choice is great, the same as the range of prices. Even a small painting from Montmartre will be a very sophisticated and artsy gift.
3. Unique Vintage Clothes
Everybody knows that Paris is heaven for fashionistas! In no other place you will find such a choice of spectacular, precious, super-stylish second-hand clothes of the greatest world brands, or some truly unique pieces of less-known fashion designers. The markets described above are perfect places to find some truly unique pieces of elegant or original clothing, accessories or jewellery.
4. Sexy Béret
Béret is a soft, round, knitted hat with a little “tail” in the middle, made of woolen felt. It was traditionally worn in France both by men and women, and it still is, yet much more rarely. Its fame come from the fact that it’s often associated with Parisian Bohemian style. The usual image of a French artist would be a man wearing a béret, with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, right?
5. Exquisite Macarons
Famous French cookies, delicate and light meringue-based shells enclosing fine cream or marmalade, owe their fame as much to their spectacular taste, as to their perfect beauty. Their lovely, pastel colours make them maybe the most elegant cookies ever invented.
6. Delicious Handmade Chocolates, Jellies and Marrons Glacés
When it comes to sensual pleasures, the French are true masters! Don’t even try to resist sinfully tempting assorted chocolates in all forms and flavours. Choose freshly handmade chocolates in one of the elegant confectionary shops and enjoy! Some of French specialties include surprising flavours like lavender or violet.
You have to try another typical French confectionary: pâtes de fruits – natural fruit jellies – they are nothing like the industrial jellies, they taste like the spirit of the fruit enclosed in a small bite! There is a huge variety of flavours: most types of fruits you can imagine. Absolutely delicious!
A different type of famous French delicacy are marrons glacés – candied chestnuts, also used as a cream to spread on crêpes.
On the topic of sensual pleasures – one of the most renowned products of France is obviously wine. The variety is endless, whether you prefer red, white, rosé or sparkling wine – there is something for everybody’s budget. You may look for wines from the most famous wine regions in France: Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. If you have luggage to check-in, it will cost you much less to choose something in one of numerous spirit shops and delicatessen, rather than buying at the airport.
French cheeses are worth their fame all over the world. The variety of tastes, soft, creamy, hard or crumbling textures, different level of maturity, mixtures of cow, sheep and goat milk, mold inside or outside, and different herbs, nuts, truffle and other refined ingredients they are matured, infused of mixed with, will make your taste buds vibrate. Some of the most famous types include: Camembert, Roquefort, Brie de Meaux, Chèvre (goat cheese), Tomme de Savoie, Epoisses, Reblochon.
9. Marinière blouse
This long-sleeved shirt with blue horizontal stripes on white background made the part of the uniform of the French Marine since the 19th century. In the 20th century, this highly recognizable shirt was restyled as a typically French fashion garment by Coco Chanel, and then Yves Saint Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
10. Nostalgic Vintage Object from Flea Market
Flea markets let even the tourists on the tightest budget to take home something very special and unique. A coffee set of sublime porcelain, an old-fashioned clock, a stylish photo frame or an original sculpture can make a truly unique gift “with soul”.
11. Eiffel Tower Souvenirs
Let’s face it – you just can’t go home from Paris without bringing the most classic of all souvenirs – a miniature of Eiffel Tower: as a keyring, earrings, on a coffee mug, on a set of coasters or as a mini statue – just another perfect dust-collector. It will make you smile back home.
Paris is a city where everyone can find something for themselves and although shopping is never cheap here, the mere pleasure of strolling through its streets, immersing yourself in its Bohemian atmosphere and soaking up its views is enough. Regardless of the products or gifts that you can buy here, the experience of your visit will be simply unforgettable.