The Parisian ideal is elegant rather than funky. Trends
come and go but Paris is always at the forefront and
there are few cities where you can find so many
top-quality designers. These include some British
designers - John Galliano at Dior, Julian McDonald at
Givenchy and McDonald's predecessor, Alexander McQueen,
as well as that ever-controversial Frenchman, Jean-Paul
Gaultier, with his own store near Bastille. The
exclusive designer shops are in the 8th, enclosed in the
golden triangle formed by avenue des Champs-Elysées,
avenue Montaigne and rue François 1er and along rue du
A less rarefied but typically Parisian shopping
experience is to be had at the main department stores
situated on boulevard Haussmann, 8th. These include Les
Galeries, with its huge coloured dome, and Au Printemps.
Métro Temple or Republique take the bargain shopper to
the cheapest department store in the city - Tati, 172
rue du Temple, 3rd. Cut-price designer gear can be
snapped up at the Mouton à Cinq Pattes, 8 rue St-Placide,
6th. The sales sweep through Paris in January and July.
Those who enjoy intimate, friendly boutiques should head
for the Marais 4th arrondissement. Rue des
Francs-Bourgeois in the gay quarter sells designer
kitsch, while the winding rue des Rosiers, in the Jewish
quarter, has plenty of young designers whose works are
displayed at L'Eclaireur. This area is at its busiest on
Sunday, with many shops closed on Saturday due to the
Jewish sabbath. It is ideal for a quick falafel snack,
while the best ice cream is for sale at Berthillon, 31
rue de St-Louis-en-L'Ile, 4th.
The Carrousel du Louvre, under the glass pyramid in the
Louvre courtyard, is a good place for shoppers to find
tasteful gifts but those determined to take home plastic
Eiffel Towers should head for rue de Rivoli, home to
tourist kitsch. The American-run Shakespeare & Co, 37
rue de la Bûcherie, 5th, has the city's widest selection
of second-hand books in English. French books are best
purchased at the city's FNAC stores, one of which is at
the shopping arcade, the Forum des Halles, 1st.
Bouquinistes sell second-hand books, as well as prints,
postcards and gifts, along the River Seine.
Most shops are open Monday to Saturday
0900/1000-1900/2000 and close between about 1200 and
1430 for lunch. Sales tax ranges from 5.21-16.38%,
varying widely between what are regarded as essential
items and luxury goods. Non-EU visitors can obtain a tax
deduction of 12-13% on purchases of over €175 in any one
day, by obtaining a form at the relevant shop and
presenting it to customs on departure.