Category Archives: Shopping

Sundays in Paris: Le Marais, Musées and Marchés

Paris, like most of Europe on Sundays, takes its foot off the gas. Time slows and the blistering (kidding) pace of Paris screeches to a halt. Artisans and shopkeepers close their doors to catch up on some much deserved R&R. Which is cool, but what’s open on Sundays?

How is the falafel shop across from L’as du Falafel still in business?

Le Marais: Spanning the 3rd and 4th districts of the right bank, 80%+ of the shops are open for business on Sundays. The trendy Marais brims with an eclectic mix of stylish shops, opticians, chocolatiers and restaurants. Some of my favourite menswear shops and L’as du Falafel are here.

Museums on the first Sunday

Musées: In addition to being open Sundays, every museum is free the first Sunday of month, which means madness. Avoid the “Big 3” – Louvre, d’Orsay, d l’Orangerie and opt for many of the smaller museums or else risk being herd like cattle. All museums have free or discounted tickets if you’re under 26 and/or a student, so no rush.

Porte de Vanves

Marchés: Some of Europe’s largest flea and farmers markets are scattered throughout the city and périphérique. Treasure hunters can go crazy at the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen and bulldoze through troves of antiquities and heirlooms. I’m a big fan of the farmers market on Richard Lenoir at Bastille for fresh produce, poultry, seafood and vegetables.

Other things open:

Parks – When are they not open? With many green spaces throughout the city, park life is a Paris staple. Parisiens are also masters of making public spaces their second home.

Chinatown – While most of the city is closed, the streets of Belleville Chinatown are bustling. Even more shocking is that box stores Monoprix and Franprix hold normal shopping hours. Un-French, but also quite awesome, especially when you run out of food.

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Les Soldes – Semi Annual Sale Season in France

Les Soldes. BHV.

From June 22 – July 26, France is on sale. Twice a year French retailers are given the green light from the state to have Les Soldes, or sale season. With the Euro and most items at a whopping 30% off, shoppers can look forward to paying what is retail in other parts of the world.

Nonetheless, it’s serious business. It’s madness. Parisiennes flock in droves. Printemps is a zoo.

Commoners peruse a few days prior, screening styles, mapping routes, and nailing down sizing to streamline d-day. VIP’s fly in, are whisked between stores by drivers, get their Louis Vuitton on and collect fat VAT refunds before leaving the country.

Like boxing day or Black Friday, discounts range from 30% – 60% off, with large retailers holding extended shopping hours the first few days (the only time I can shop in Paris after 8pm). Most everything but staples are marked down, although screaming bargains are few and far between. The best deals are on clearance racks; the last pair of shoes in an odd size in an interesting colour that have been slashed 70%.

Unlike boxing day or Black Friday, you won’t see shops with loss leading door-crashers for the first few people in queue. Or people camped out in sleeping bags.

When the dust settles in 2 or 3 weeks, another round of markdowns comes for items left behind. For savvy shoppers, this is when the real bargains can be had.

To restore harmony in the retail world, next year’s Mens summer collection is being shown at Paris Fashion Week, which runs parallel with the start of Les Soldes. A curious bunch of stylites and fashionistas are in town getting the lowdown on S/S 12. The Sartorialist is here. Fashion bloggers unite.

It’s Christmas in June.

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