The best Paris markets
Browse for books, rummage for riches, bargain for bric-a-brac or be a flea market flâneur.
The 100 best shops in Paris
There's a magic to shopping in Paris that no other city can match.
Vintage shopping guide
Rockabilly leather, '50s glamour dresses, retro sunglasses and much more.
English language bookshops
Expats, tourists, language learners, lovers of English literature in Paris, read on...
Shopping for kids
Where to treat the tots.
Chic for gents at some of the coolest boutiques in town.
You know a country is serious about its candy when it has a dedicated annual Day of Guilty Pleasures.
Lingerie and erotica
Putting the ‘Ooh’ in to your ‘là là’.
You'll definitely need to refurb to match your new outfit.
Great Paris concept stores
Bags adorn the walls, trinkets sit atop small wooden shelves, and lamps are dotted around the room – French Touche is a shop where one could happily rummage for hours. Nestled in the heart of the 17th arrondissement for the past decade, this 'gallery of touching objects' is one of the first concept stores in the capital (alongside the prestigious and expensive Colette). Dreamed up by the lovely Valérie, it's teeming with original creations: from retro knitted cat badges (Severina Kids) to Beatles patches and micro-notebook keychains. 'I try to choose products from designers who aren’t widely known and for whom I have a true passion. Like these hand-painted ceramics by Maud Salançon,' says Valérie. At the back of the store is a pleasing selection of clothing, boots and crockery which unearthed from antique stores. 'And vinyl is coming soon,' she adds enthusiastically. We'll be back.
Paris has concept stores in spades. The city seems to specialise in boutiques that smell of scented candles, where you go to buy glitzy jewellery and sparkly scarves. SoWeAre is very much in this vein: this is where the young and trendy come to stock up on pretty scarves, kooky mugs, and of course clothing. So what sets it apart from the crowd?You'll see from the moment you set foot inside the shop. SoWeAre does a very good job of spicing up its displays with a couple of eccentric touches, such as humourous window displays and a wall-mounted 'mood board'. A cursory look around the displays will reveal some interesting brands too: designer footwear by Patricia Blanchet (€270 for a pair of boots), Cosh 'ear necklaces' (€55), Nümph shirts (€60). Complementing these is a decent range of cheap curios – we couldn't resist the model of the trombone-playing rabbit. Not one for light wallets, but the place to go if you're tired of run-of-the-mill accessories.
Le Centre Commercial
The idea of a commerical centre might not appeal to fans of concept boutiques, but don’t speak too soon – Centre Commerical in the Rue de Marseille (alongside APC, Maje and Claudie Pierlot) will thrill fans of quality fashion. The shop's founders also created Veja, the famous brand of hip, affordable trainers. Sébastien Kopp, one of the co-founders, has embraced a socially and ecologically conscious type of fashion for trendy youngsters; however annoying young hipsters might be, at least they don’t buy ‘made in China’.Inside the beautifully designed space, where you never have to jostle between two clothes racks, you'll find brands from the 'made in France' movement including Bleu de Paname, Repetto, St. James or Roseanna, and other well-known sustainable labels like Veja, Valentine Gauthier (the future Isabel Marant, according to rumours) or Christine Phung, winner of the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris 2011 for her work with traditional artisans and fair trade projects in partnership with humanitarian organisations in Cambodia.
The new French Trotters flagship store occupies no less that 200 chic square metres, just down from the road from the old boutique at 116 Rue Vieille du Temple. It brings together all facets of the store that was originally created in 2005 by Carole and Clarent Dehlouz – including trendy bath products (candles, soap and shower gel), linen, furniture and stacks of magazines on photography, decoration, fashion and gardening. But French Trotters’s heart remains in its clothing boutique, full of great pieces from respected designers and quality workshops in Denmark, Brazil, India and France – and including the fabulous French Trotters own line, knitted in Brittany. Look out for boots by Avril Gau, high heels from Michel Vivien, Opening Ceremony shoes, Veja trainers, bags by Jérôme Dreyfuss, Acne jeans, rare and beautiful shirts from Commune de Paris, tops from American Vintage and knitwear from Flippa K. The prices aren’t exactly high street, but this is stuff built with care, and to last.
You might not know what you're looking for when you walk in to Pop Market, but you always walk out with armfuls of goodies. Small animal figurines for a nephew, some beautiful stationery for yourself, badges to pin on a jacket or a bright decoration for the living room. This a concept store like many others in Paris, the difference being that it’s large enough for one to spend a good half an hour in without bumping into anyone. You’ll find all the same designers as elsewhere: fine Titlee gold jewellery, sophisticated Clémence Cabanes cufflinks, or humorous patches signed Macon et Lesquoy. To mix things up a bit, the owners occasionally organise book signings and showcases behind their candy pink shopfront.
The best Paris department stores
The store has been undergoing a massive renovation programme of late, with the opening in 2008 of Espace Luxe on the first floor, featuring luxury prêt-à-porter and accessories and nine avant-garde designers, and the unveiling of a vast new shoe department in the basement featuring some 150 brands. The men's fashion space on the third floor, Lafayette Homme, has natty designer corners and a 'Club' area with internet access. On the first floor, Lafayette Gourmet has exotic foods galore, and a vast wine cellar.
In the magnificently appointed Printemps you'll find everything you didn't even know you wanted and English-speaking assistants to help you find it. But fashion is where it really excels; an entire floor is devoted to shoes, and the beauty department stocks more than 200 brands. In all, there are six floors of men's and women's fashion. In Printemps de la Mode, French designers sit alongside all the big international designers. The Fashion Loft offers a younger but equally stylish take on current trends. Along with furnishings, Printemps de la Maison stocks everything from tableware to design classics. For fast refuelling, Printemps has a tearoom, sushi bar and Café Be, an Alain Ducasse bakery. Or head up to Le Déli-cieux, on the ninth floor of Printemps Maison, for a drink on the terrace with wonderful views across Paris.
Le Bon Marché
The city's oldest department store, opened in 1848, is also its most swish and user-friendly, thanks to an extensive redesign by LVMH. Luxury boutiques, Dior and Chanel among them, take pride of place on the ground floor; escalators designed by Andrée Putman take you up to the fashion floor, which has an excellent selection of global designer labels, from Lanvin to Claudie Pierlot. Designer names also abound in Balthazar, the prestigious men's section. For top-notch nibbles, try the adjoining Grande Epicerie food hall (01.44.39.81.00, www.lagrandeepicerie.fr, 8.30am-9pm Mon-Sat).