Sunday, 27 October 2013

Shopping in Paris

I took a five day layover in Paris before returning to Canada and spent some time at Galleries Lafayette on Saturday morning. I soon became disgusted with the crowds and the overburdened sales personnel. I made it to Bon Marché in the afternoon and service there seemed better. Actually you can't blame the service personnel for their short responses and their inattentiveness since most have to be suffering from "tourist fatigue". I left without buying anything at either department store, although I did try on several sweaters. Galleries Lafayette had a sale, which also is becoming more common. There once was a time when there were only ever two sales per year in France, one in January and one in July, both required by French law. Now very often you see the "soldes/sale" signs as often as you do in North America.

Shopping in Paris can be invigorating and satisfying or just plain frustrating therefore to accomplish the best Parisian shopping experience, you might want to try a few of my suggestions:

NEED: Have a list of the items you want to buy in the price ranges you want to spend. This year I had two particular things on my list: a bulky knit pullover in a creamy pink and a pair of camel straight leg trousers. If you go with no particular item or items in your head you will soon become overwhelmed with the choices. Don't worry, your list will not limit you, there is plenty to see and divert your attention even when you are shopping for specifics. When I was working full time in my profession, I knew exactly what I needed; now it's not so easy - I don't really need anything.

With that in mind, shoes, scarves and handbags are the easiest to buy. Clothing takes more time and effort in the fitting rooms.

NOTE-WORTHY: Visit the designer shops and the ones in the department stores such as Galleries Lafayette, Printemps and Bon Marché for the perfect opportunity to get a cross-section of what the trends are for the moment. If you can afford to buy, then make your way to the luxury brand signature stores. If the luxury brands are not worth it in your estimations, then make your way to the less expensive marks in the department stores with the ideas you garnered from the designer looks.

Language and attitude sometimes make tourists reticent to visit the small boutiques. Don't deprive yourself of this opportunity. The shop owners want to sell and you are a potential buyer - you have the upper hand. Or just window shop for ideas.

NECESSARY: Remember that you are paying a Value Added Tax of approximately 19.7% on the clothing and luxury items you purchase. As a tourist you can get that back if you spend €175. or more in one store on the same day so be strategic in your buying. You have to ask for the tax back form and the store personnel will fill it out for you. And remember your passport - that number and proof that you live elsewhere is necessary for the form. I wrote about this on the Paying Duty post. 

I did buy from a shop called Sandro in the Marais. The "form" came from the cash register in the same format as the receipt. Now I don't know if all shops have this capability but this is definitely an innovation, making the process easier for both the shops and the consumer.

NICE: If you see it and like it, buy it. That is the first rule of travel. If you are in Paris as a tourist wanting to get some shopping done, you may not have the time to indulge in looking around and then returning to where you first saw something. I have been in the situation where by the time I returned to the shop, it was closed and I was leaving before it would be opened again. Be happy with your purchases, don't second guess the cost and enjoy wearing your Parisian "souvenir/s".

And if you leave Paris with nothing new in your suitcase (although I doubt that), you will leave a little more cognizant of what is chic and what is trendy, helping you spend your tourist/closet dollars at home.

1 comment:

  1. Good suggestions. I end up looking at everything and not buying what I want then wonder why I'm not happy with my purchase.


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