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By Theadora Brack in Paris—
Make no tips, hands or buts about it, “Les soldes d’hiver 2011″ (big winter sales) are in full and vibrant swing here in Paris! They began on January 12, 2011 and last through Tuesday, February 15, 2011. So this week I’ve decided to don my faux fur tour guide hat, and create a special excursion for our au courant fashion trendsters. Magnifique Miles, here we come!
Cheapos, here’s the scoop: The “80″ bus line connects two of my favorite shopping districts in the city: rue des Abbesses in the 18th arrondissement and rue du Commerce in the 15th arrondissement. Nestled in cobblestoned ’hoods with views to boot, both boast a cool blend of bargain bins, “indy” designer boutiques, funky shops, and trendy chains.
For the mere price of a metro ticket (the same tickets work for both buses and Metros), you’ll not only cruise between the shopping havens with the greatest of ease, but also boast about your first scores of the day while the panorama of Paris rolls by en route to the next shipping district. The 80 is one of the most scenic bus lines in the city, so keep your camera handy and eyes open!
Rue des Abbesses
We’ll first hit Abbesses (Métro Abbesses) in the morning. The neighborhood has a bustling village vibe about it, and is chockfull of shops, cafés, and hair salons. Even Louis Vuitton recently fell under its spell, and named one of their messenger bags “Abbesses.”
Beloved national and international chains sit pretty on rue des Abbesses, while most of the vintage shops and funky designer boutiques hold court on the side streets. On Sundays the area becomes a pedestrian-only and traffic-free district!
Looking for fine vintage? Dial back the clock at Le Caverne à Fripes at 25 rue Houdon. Here the inventory is eclectic, and may seem chaotic but don’t let looks deceive you. The collection is quite organized. Looking for a specific item? Don’t hesitate to ask. They once tracked down a French sailor hat for me. Prices are super reasonable, too.
Bargain bin shopping Sympa is located nearby at the foot of Sacré-Coeur. Inventory rotates. Here you’ll often find Best Mountain, Etam, Naf-Naf, Sinéquanone, Sandro, and Undiz Lingerie Planet but for a wee fraction of their original cost!
Something borrowed and stunning blue
While trekking about, check out Van Gogh’s old third floor apartment on 54 rue Lepic. A plaque marks the spot where he lived with his brother Theo for a few years.
Feeling all inspired and starry, starry eyed after the visit? Then pop by Sue’s Matière à Bijoux bead shop located directly across the street, and create your own work of art. She’ll even help you design your own bling! Tell her you’re a Cheapo.
This is our stop
After we shop till we drop in Abbesses, we’ll hop on the 80 bus. The bus stop is located at rue Caulaincourt and Tourlaque, just around the corner from the (late, great) pop star diva Dalida’s Bambino studio at 10 Rue Damrémont and Toulouse-Lautrec’s atelier at 7 rue Tourlaque! Again, building plaques mark both historical and hip hot spots.
Oh, the places we’ll go
On our way to rue du Commerce, we’ll pass the Cimetière de Montmartre, Place Clichy, Gare Saint Lazare, the Église Saint-Augustin de Paris, the unofficial Princess Di memorial at Pont de l’Alma, École Militaire, Champ de Mars, the Eiffel Tower, and the Le Mur pour la Paix created in 2000 by artist Clara Halter and architect Jean-Michel Wilmote. Here the word “peace” in 49 languages is inscribed on large glass panes and tall, slender metal columns. From our rolling catbird seats, we’ll also spot legendary fashion houses like Valentino, Dior and Jimmy Choo!
Rue du Commerce
Hold onto your hat and signal the bus driver because we’ve reached our final destination! First we’ll fortify ourselves with a soda pop at the café, located next to La Motte Picquet Grenelle bus stop. A favorite of the locals, this is prime people-watching zone, any time of the day or year.
Got passion for fashion?
The Rue du Commerce shopping district runs from from Boulevard de Grenelle to Rue des Entrepreneurs. I love this place. The shops are just beyond the bridge. Here you’ll find Cheapo iconic darlings like Monoprix, Etam, Cameliau, Zara, and H&M—where, by the way, rumor has it that the fabulous Jimmy Choo shoe line for the celebrity embracing chain can still be found at the very back of the sale racks! How cool is that? Oh, la la.
Happy Hunting, Cheapos! May the shopping force be with you.