In fashion we trust: Where to shop in Paris


From vintage boutiques to department stores, these are the must-shop spots in the global fashion and art capital of the world.

How to shop like a local in Paris. Image credit: visualspace/iStock
Take a look at how to shop like a local in Paris. Image credit: visualspace/iStock

Paris boasts everything chic, with an array of cosmopolitan hangouts for fashionistas. Slip into those loafers and button up that trench coat because it’s time for the ultimate shopping experience…

Get cinematic  

Marais is located in the 4th arrondissement hideaway the cool kids refer to as SoMo, after to the SoHo-style bars occupying the district. The area has a film-noir exuberance, making it the go-to for vintage shopping.

Bulging clothes racks offer up amazing deals and with stores such as Vintage Paris, Odetta Vintage and La Jolie Garde a stone’s throw from each other, Marais proves that shopping in Paris doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.

Bohemian boltholes, art galleries, and arcades envelope quaint, cobbled streets to make this quarter of Paris a shopper’s paradise.

A fountain on the Place des Vosges in the Marais district. Image credit: instamatics/iStock
A fountain on the Place des Vosges in the Marais district. Image credit: instamatics/iStock

Go rummaging

FREE’P’STAR on Rue de la Verrerie in Saint Merri is a purple and gold thrift store that’s open late and has many garments for all fashion tastes. The store’s windows are peppered with paintings, making it easily mistaken for an art shop, but its exterior hasn’t fooled the locals.

FREE’P’STAR has a range of clothes, accessories, and shoes covering two levels with a jumble sale approach. Neon lights provide just enough glow for shoppers to rifle through offerings of glam rock knee-high platform boots—something of a trend at FREE’P’STAR.

Be prepared to see a tussle or two! Shoppers have been known to get somewhat territorial over their finds, particularly when the shop is so often at maximum capacity.

Step back in time

Pretty Box on Rue de Saintonge, a short walk from the Bataclan, has the power to impress even before you set foot inside the quaint store. A sneak-peek at the store’s IG page shows French women clad in berets with leather as they strike effortlessly cool poses outside the hideaway in the 3rd arrondissement.

Inside, Pretty Box does not disappoint. Fashion lovers will wade through an Aladdin’s Cave of wonders, including items from fashion-forward eras such as the grunge 90s, punk 70s, and even the wartime 40s. Tie dye t-shirts reading “hugs not drugs” hang on racks next to denim jackets with the Virgin Mary sewed on. This time warp of a store teleports fashion lovers back to the good ol’ days.

Be chic

Chinemachine is buried within the hustle and bustle of Montmartre, also known as the Artist’s Quarter of Paris in the city’s 18th arrondissement. The marble interior thrift store boasts an array of hand-picked items and combines luxe labels with statement pieces by local designers.

With pieces for both men and women, a trip to the hilltop store also makes a great location for couples visiting the city. Chinemachine also welcomes treasured garments, bags, and shoes from donors in exchange for store credit or cash from Monday to Thursday. Tip: Leather is the shop’s speciality.

Montmartre sits on the top of a small hill in the 18th Arrondissement. Image credit: KavalenkavaVolha/iStock
Montmartre sits on the top of a small hill in the 18th arrondissement. Image credit: KavalenkavaVolha/iStock

Glam up

La Mode Vintage in Paris’ Saint-Ambroise in the city’s 11th arrondissement is a tiny vintage boutique that’s been featured in international glossies such as Elle and Time Out. Why? It’s all down to owner Carole Bigielman’s meticulous scavenging for those eye-watering items, such as an original Yves Saint Laurent suitcase, Chanel brooch, or custom-made Dior biker cap.

These finds have made Bigielman’s adorable store one of few locations where models and mere mortals collide. Headscarves, pendants, and belts on the shelves of La Mode have helped dub the store as an accessories heaven, meaning shoppers not only leave with that blood-red PVC trench coat, but bag the all-important black velvet clutch to go with it too.

Where life imitates art

Galeries Lafayette is on Boulevard Haussmann, in-between the capital’s 9th and 8th arrondissements. The store is a must-visit, not only for the crisp and elegantly tailored menswear but for the stunning, breathtaking galleries as well. The building’s 100-year-old steel and glass coupole can be seen from across Paris, making Galeries Lafayette Paris’ most famous department store.

Boasting one million shoppers daily, the stained-glass building has dedicated four floors to men’s clothing. Galeries Lafayette has more than 126 brands to choose from, making it somewhat of a fashion house. Its balconies and gold paintwork give the building a dramatic opera house atmosphere.

See fashion and history collide  

Dior’s flagship store on Avenue Montaigne in the City’s 8th arrondissement makes any Paris getaway a little more special. The store is part of what locals call the “Golden Triangle”, an influential bundle of houses by the world’s most renowned designers.

The flagship is the birthplace of the Dior franchise and its oldest boutique. The best time to visit is during the Christmas holidays when the store puts on a display similar to London’s Harrods. The display is known to take several days and include a grueling 750kg-worth of decorations.

Avenue des Champs-Elysees is another popular shopping strip in Paris. Image credit: MediaProduction/iStock
Avenue des Champs-Elysees is another popular shopping strip in Paris. Image credit: MediaProduction/iStock

Browse the fashion giants  

While Librairie Galignani is not exactly a fashion store, it does hold the title of most fashionable book shop in Paris. Visitors who’ve frequented the shop, which has been running since 1801, include none other than the late, great Karl Lagerfeld himself. Employees say he loved nothing more than to browse the small store’s fashion section, which holds an entire catalog of age-old Vogue copies.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carly Read

Carly Read is a national newspaper journalist and feature writer. She lives in Hampshire in the UK with her partner.