‘In the sunshine, in the rain, in the dark or in the day, all you need’s on the Champs-Élysées.’ So crooned Joe Dassin on the magnificently cheesy ‘Les Champs-Élysées’ back in 1969. Today this grand avenue must still rank among the most fashionable (and outright eclectic) streets in Paris. A whole host of mainstream fashion brands – Banana Republic, Levi’s, Hugo Boss, Abercrombie & Fitch and even Marks & Spencer – have chosen to locate their flagship stores on the Champs, which after a slightly déclassé period in the ’90s has once again become the city’s epicentre of consumer chic. Looking for an upmarket souvenir? Keep ahead of the curve with our guide to the best places to shop on the Champs-Elysées right now.
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Shopping on the Champs-Élysées
The American mega-brand’s grown-up preppy style has arrived in Paris. Its neo-Art Deco-style, 1,500-square-metre Champs-Elysées flagship features a multitude of mini-boutiques. Themed sections include Weekend (casual), the eco-friendly Heritage and the higher-end Monogram. One big draw is the free personal shopping service, with absolutely no requirement to buy. Reserve in advance. This will also give you access to your own (rather lovely) 1930s-style dressing room away from the throngs. For extra fizz, they’ll even serve you champagne and coffee.
This is a case of having to be seen to be believed. The US clothing brand’s flagship has been causing a stir on the Champs-Élysées since it opened in 2011, with banging tunes and topless male models standing in the doorway at all times. Like its sister stores in London and NYC, the aristocratic box-hedged garden, dimmed lighting and lingering aftershave scent make the place feel more like a bizarre club than a shop. There are even bouncers ready to tell you off should you dare whip out your camera for a photo. A shame, because the décor is positively museum-worthy, with beautifully painted 1930s-style frescoes depicting male deities in hunting scenes, athletic poses and boxing rings.
Hugo Boss’s new flagship on the Champs-Élysées is all straight lines and steely greys – rather like the signature Boss suits worn by the sales assistants. It feels like businessman territory here, with minimalist décor, the occasional wooden sculpture and big screens flashing images of Hugo Boss catwalk shows – inspiration for your shopping as you browse the minimalist rows of the brand’s smart, designer garb. Boss has other outlets dotted around town, but this is its biggest store and perhaps the most relaxing, thanks to its large and airy proportions. Personal shoppers are on hand, ready to guide you through the ranges and advise on style.
People queuing in the rain for Marks and Spencer’s? Has the world gone mad? Or is George Clooney giving away free luxury hampers? As odd as it may seem to Brits (for whom M&S is as about as exotic as its signature multi-packs of pants) queuing outside is business as usual for M&S since the chain opened its new flagship Paris store. Paradoxically, while the majority of the French love nothing more than criticising British food, give them a Marks and Spencer’s chicken tikka sarnie, a pack of scones or a treacle pudding and the superlatives flow like wine from a barrel. They’re also secret admirers of British fashion, and M&S has always fulfilled a French need for classicism whilst offering them cuts, colours and fabric types you don’t readily find in France.
Levi’s has always had good marketing strategies: the campaigns that included the Motown classic ‘I Heard it through the Grapevine’, Steve Miller Band’s ‘The Joker’ and Mr Oizo’s ‘Flat Beat’ (performed by the yellow puppet Flat Eric) are undoubtedly some of the most memorable ads of our time. So it should come as no surprise the chain is using music and art to draw the crowds into its flagship store on the Champs – think live DJ sets and specially commissioned artworks. If it’s just jeans your after, head straight downstairs, where walls are filled with perfectly folded 501s, skinnies and bootleg models.
After a one-of-a-kind souvenir?
If you’re looking for a classy, time-worn curio to remind you of Paris across oceans and continents, you could do worse than a trip to one of its many brilliant flea markets. And for exquisitely fresh grub – admittedly slightly less transportable – there are also innumerable excellent food markets in Paris that can deliver.