When it comes to luxury shopping, there is no where in the world with more variety and tres chic glamour to do it than Paris. Home to almost every major haute couture brand and probably the chic-est dressers in the world, they have got shopping down to an ART.
And my favourite places to pick up my bags has got to be either Printemps or Galeries Lafayette.
I’m all for buying from standalone boutiques if I have all the time in the world to stroll the streets, but unfortunately they tend to have less stock and less variety – compared to the two departmental stores above, which carry just about every single brand you might want.
Besides shopping, we were also there to enjoy their legendary Christmas display, which was every bit as breathtaking as I’d imagined it to be.
In the first place, Printemps is housed in a beautiful domed building (ab0ve). But my favourite part of the decorations?
lèche-vitrine – literally, window licking.
A very Parisian term to describe the way Christmas window shoppers and children practically drool against the lavish, whimsical displays.
Here’s why !
This is just ONE of Dior’s three Christmas displays. The photo doesn’t do it justice – it was a ceiling to floor recreation of a Winter’s Ball – complete with marionettes wearing couture and carrying their iconic Lady Dior bags ( currently on the top of my wishlist, btw). Some were holding fans, masques, or dancing with handsome men in dinner tux. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the display.
For the children, there were the crazily detailed and magical Disney Princess windows.
Here’s Cinderella –
Better than Disneyland ! I just gawked and gawked until K told me to close my mouth. There you can spot the mice which turned into footmen, her glass slippers, the clock striking midnight – so gorgeous !
And Belle – of course, got the most lavish treatment – she is French, after all!
Really enjoyed Mrs Potts and Chip in this one – and the glass domed rose was the loveliest touch of all.
Inside Galeries Lafayette, the highlight is their three storey Christmas tree. This year, it was done up by – wait for it – Swarovski!
Huge, glittering rainbow gems studding the Christmas tree, which looked more like Mickey’s Magical Hat with all those strung up lights.
Anyway, here are some tips for those shopping in Galeries Lafayette. I’ve gotten some e-mails about where to buy bags / branded items in Paris and I hope this list helps. Feel free to formspring or e-mail me otherwise – I got a lot of help from my branded bag guru friend D and I’d be more than happy to pass it on 🙂 .
- Don’t wait for the end of your trip to go. In fact, go to GL or Printemps on your first day, to see if the bag you want is in stock. If it’s not, get yourself on the waiting list and call every day to ask if it’s come in. If it’s an IT bag like a Celine Luggage or Chanel 2.55, chances are it won’t be in stock and you’ll have to pray a delivery comes in during your trip.
- If you have lots of time, go to standalone boutiques instead. GL can get really crazy with rude pushy tourists and I always feel a little sick when I approach my favourite shop and find it already crowded with smelly, noisy PRCs.
- Be polite, dress nicely. It’s a posh place, and staff there are immaculate about their appearances. So do yourself a favour and don’t turn up in shorts, a ragged t-shirt and slippers. It’s just disrespectful.
- Buy your shoes at GL – they are already tax free and you can combine your purchases if you don’t have enough to make up the amount. My Repettos, for example, are about 180 euros a pair and not enough to claim tax refunds on their own. If I buy from their shop at GL, however, it’s already cheaper. You can also do all your tax refunds at one go to save you from waiting at all the different boutiques.
- Take a break halfway – or you’ll faint. Stop by Laduree at Printemps or buy yourselves some Pierre Herme macarons from Galeries. Hit their gourmet food department and grab a matcha eclair at Sadaharu Aoki’s.
- French brands are naturally way cheaper there. However, Italian brands like Prada, Miu Miu and Bottega are naturally cheaper in Italy, by quite a bit more.
On this trip, though, K and I had plenty of time, so we eschewed the gross Longchamp and LV toting human masses at GL and headed for Madeleine, where all the standalone boutiques are, to do our shopping. The streets are lovely there – just have brunch at Angelina’s like we do on the Rue de Rivoli before talking the leisurely stroll to Rue Cambon for Chanel and all the other brands you can think of. It’s also less tourist infested and much more fun.
I came on this trip hoping to pick up something small and cute from 31 Rue Cambon. After my crazy splurging just six months earlier in Paris on Celine, Miu Miu, Prada, and Chanel I was feeling more than a little poor.
And then K surprised me with a new bag !
I already have a beige/cream Chanel single-flap medium 2.55, but it’s Caviar and Gold hardware – both safe bets. I’ve been lusting over getting a black lambskin with silver hardware – black and gold may be very sophisticated but it just looked old on me. Anyway I left the store a happy bunny indeed – we picked out a 2.55 black Maxi in lambskin with silver hardware and a wine coloured double flap !
Chanel is definitely an investment – prices have gone up astronomically and they still continue going up every year ! I paid something like 2,100 euros for my first bag four years ago and today, it’s about $6,500 in Singapore (crazy!) and 3,100 euros. My Maxi was 3,750 euros .
Back in the hotel, I peeled back the layers.
I think you guys have already seen the bag in some of my photos, but here’s one of me pairing it with a simple pale pink dress for work today. It’s very versatile and the lambskin is so smooth and pillowy I keep rubbing it absent-mindedly until K smacks my hand away from his ‘investment’.