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By Theadora Brack in Paris—
Tripping to Paris? Do you plan to shop? Well then, look and listen! Throughout Paris, there are shopping zones where you can buy anything, as well as scattered districts where clusters of stores carry similar items. Shopping fanatics, unite. Here’s a mini-guide. So dust off the printer!
But first, a few tips:
1. In France, most ATM machine “keys” do not include letters, just numbers. So what to do if you’ve memorized your password as “Rosebud” and not as “9693292”? Get thee quickly to a payphone booth! Here the keys include both numbers and letters. Voilà, Super Man! This little tip saves the day every time. (More advice about ATMs in Europe.)
2. Looking for discounts? Shop during the two annual Big Sale (“Solde”) periods in either January or June. This year’s summer sales launch on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
3. Got to shop ’til you drop on a Sunday? I recommend hoofing it to either Abbesses or the Marais, where most stores are open seven days a week. Here you’ll also find beaucoup bars, cafés and pâtisseries going full blast!
Now on to the list:
Bitten by the Flea? Visit the Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves (14th arrondissement, Métro Porte de Vanves) or the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt (18th arrondissement, Métro: Porte de Clignancourt).
Tip! The 95-bus line connects both “puces.” See this Web site for a handy 2012 listing of Paris Fleas, brocantes and vide-greniers.
Trendy (and affordable) Labels
Looking to shake up your wardrobe with a little Zara, Etam or Naf-Naf? Here’s where I go-go for my Chains of Love: Boulevard Haussmann, rue de Rennes, and rue du Commerce, along with rue de Rivoli and Champs-Elysées.
During the Big Sales, the Zara at 40 rue de Rennes usually serves as one of “last stops” for the chain’s leftover clothing.
I often find my bargain bin bliss at the Sympa shops on rue Steinkerque and along Boulevard de Rochechouart (Métro Abbesses or Anvers). Located at the foot of Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, the stock is always cha-cha-changing. Expect Best Mountain, Etam, Naf-Naf, Sinéquanone, and Undiz but at a fraction of their original cost.
Don your elbow pads and eat a healthy breakfast. Game on! (Read more about Sympa shops in Paris.)
Throughout in Paris, you’ll find “friperies” (secondhand clothing shops) and “depôts-ventes” (consignment shops). I’d either book it to Abbesses (Métro Abbesses, 18th arrondissement) or the Marais (Métro Saint-Paul, 4th arrondissement).
Both have deep pockets of vintage clothing shops. Le Caverne à Fripes at 25 rue Houdon in Abbesses or FREE’P’STAR at 61 rue de la Verrerie in the Marais are peek-a-boo-worthy! (Read more about vintage clothing shops in Paris.)
Funky designer shops and studios
Rocking a fairy tale vibe, the skinny rue d’Orsel (Métro Abbesses or Anvers) is lined with a row of clothing shops and studios. Their kitschy, candied-colored vitrines always stop me in my tracks. Located in the textile district, the artists here play with the full spectrum of fabrics like there’s no tomorrow.
Check out: Zélia’s Sur la Terre Comme au Ciel, Marie’s Le Boudoir de Marie, and Kitty’s Killy Grind.
At the foot of Sacré Coeur in Montmartre (Métro Abbesses or Anvers) is where I hunt for fabric and notions. I’d kick off the quest on Rue d’Orsel (north of Metro Anvers in the 18th). Flaunting four floors of textiles, notions and baubles, both the Marché Saint Pierre on 2 rue Charles Nodier, and the Tissus Reine at 5 Place Saint-Pierre (with its fifty miniature mannequins!) are definitely worth a visit. Yes, you’ve got the notion!
Looking for African Megawax cloth? Trek it to the nearby Barbès neighborhood. Tip! Most of the fabric is precut at six meters (about 18 feet, enough for two shirts or dresses). Look for the €10 piles of cloth!
WWJCD? (What would Julia Child do?) That joke never gets old! For gastromical sakes, she’d hunt the aisles of kitchen-equipment specialist E. Dehillerin! “Thunderstruck!” was her description of the heated encounter she first had there. Located at 18 Rue Coquillière (Métro: Les Halles), the centuries-old shop’s shine has not dulled the least bit.
Also, check out Julia’s photograph behind the cash register!
When it comes to dinner parties, presentation is everything! So channel your inner Martha Stewart, and roll on over to shops along rue de Paradis (south of Métro Poissoniere, 10th arrondissement). There’s also a row of funky tableware shops along rue de Rennes (Métro: Rennes, 6th arrondissement). For the love of whimsy, all three shops are worth a pop-by: La Vaissellerie (85), Culinarion (99), and Plastiques (103). (Read more on buying kitchenware in Paris.)
One of my favorite hunting grounds for “cartes postale ancienne” (known as CPA in the trade) is at Caveyron Devey, located at stall number 7 and 8 in the Passage Lecuyer (off Rue Jules Vallès) in the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt (Métros: Garibaldi or Porte de Clignancourt). Stocked with postcards organized by category or genre, if you’re looking for a specific category, don’t be afraid to ask! The Porte de Vanves Flea also carries them, along with vintage magazines.
Also at the Clignancourt Flea, you’ll find one of my favorite bookshops. La librairie de l’Avenue is a large but still intimate bookshop, stocked with new and used art books, catalogues, vintage prints and antique magazines. After hunting at the Porte de Vanves Flea, book it to the book and prints flea market. Located at intersection of Rue Brancion and Rue Fizeau in the 15th arrondissement, the market is open Saturdays and Sundays.
Your favorite shopping spots?
Cheapos, do you have a favorite shopping district in Paris? Do spill!
Also in our guide: If you’re planning your Paris vacation and need suggestions for great affordable hotels, check out our reviews of budget hotels in Paris. All of our picks have been visited, inspected and approved by a EuroCheapo editor. Read more in our Paris guide and grab some helpful tips on where to stay during your visit.