January 31, 2012

Retail Therapy in Paris: what you need to know

Paris is one of the world's best shopping destinations. Whether you want to pick up a flea-market bargain, or explore high-end stores, you'll be able to do so with ease in Paris. The city is well-known for its chic and flair, and that comes out in its vast array of shopping possibilities. If you've been studying French courses in London, why not test your new language skills on a shopping trip to Paris?

Boulevard Haussman

The place to go for department store shopping, with Galeries Lafayette and Au Primtemps, Paris' two most famous department stores. Both are housed in stunning buildings, worth a visit for their own sake. Both sell a wide variety of homewares and fashion, and have their own restaurants.

Les Halles and Rue de Rivoli

Les Halles is very varied shopping area, in which you can hunt out a bargain or splurge. It is the place to head if you're a foodie, with a wide variety of shops selling traditional French food and wine. There is also a huge indoor market over five floors, with both independent and chain stores as well as restaurants. Along Rue de Rivoli you'll find a good selection of stores, including some department stores.

Les Marais

If you only have time to visit one of Paris' shopping districts, make it Les Marais. This is one of the trendiest areas of the city, with a great combination of food stores, independent fashion boutiques and cafes in which to rest your weary feet. Lots of bargains to be had for those willing to shop around.

Fauborg St Honore

Top-end fashion dominates this area. Expect to find big name designers in what is known as 'Europe's most fashionable street'.

Saint Ouen Flea Market

Bargain hunters, head here. This is Paris' oldest flea-market, dating from the 19th century. It's a little way out of town, but easy to reach on the Metro. You'll find antiques, art and trinkets galore.

Paris is one of the most enjoyable places in the world to shop, and even if you're not much of a shopper back home, you'll love shopping in Paris. Break up your shopping day with visits to art galleries and cafes, and you'll have a truly authentic Parisian experience. Opening hours vary depending on the type of shop, but most will be open from 10am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday, with larger stores tending to have longer hours. Food shops will open earlier, often from 8am. Most shops shut on Sundays. Remember that in smaller shops and markets you'll often be able to bargain over the price.

Once you've polished your French bargaining skills, why not explore the fantastic shopping in that other major European capital, Berlin, after taking one of the intensive German courses London language schools offer?

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