The headlines for this year's shopping experience in Paris surely go to the newly renovated Forum Des Halles, another vast Parisian shopping mecca that offers a swimming pool and movie theaters in addition to the impressive selection of shops and restaurants. But the city's favorite shopping center these days still seems to be the Centre Beaugrenelle Paris. At least, that is, if the twice yearly sales are any indication - it's here where the items seem to fly off the shelves the fastes and you have to get there lickety-split to scoop up the good stuff. While it was being built, the Beaugrenelle Shopping Center was controversial, just like Les Halles. But its sleek air-conditioned interiors of glass and escalators and 3rd floor restaurants perched above the ground floor Pathé cinemas and the all-new Marks & Spencer’s inside, too… well, what’s not to love ?
The Gare St. Lazare (yes, I am talking about the train station) was recently re-done into an indoor shopping mall. It offers more than just the shops for things you’ve forgotten to pack and in fact is as much a destination shopping center now as is its nearby Passage du Havre, just across the street. And keeping with the train station theme, the Montparnasse Rive Gauche shopping center, while not inside the big train station, also makes for convenient shopping and even has its own Galeries Lafayette and C&A department stores inside along with many shops for women, men and children.
For an easy, unstrenuous afternoon of shopping, a look in at Baby Dior and Chanel, followed by a café on the exquisite terrace at the Village Royal is always a treat and it being so close to Place de la Madeleine makes it ever so convenient. And let’s not forget that the Champs-Elysées is really and truly one big outdoor shopping mall, specked with cavernous galleries, like Le 66, that offer more specialized boutiques and now with free WiFi along the Champs and one Sunday a month designated as a pedestrian zone day, it's getting to feel more and more like an outdoor mall.
Of course for the real shoppers, scheduling a trek out to One Nation or La Vallée Village for a day of outlet shopping therapy can't be beat.
Forum des Halles
The facelift is now complete, the Forum des Halles renovation is now finished and this is a must stop for shopping. What's more, it's surrounded by all the funky and offbeat boutiques and cafés that make Les Halles a magnet for the youth crowd.
The shops both indoors and outdoors are all open now for business. And while it's gotten some criticism for letting in the rain, the sweeping exterior roof lends a graceful accent to this iconic Les Halles landscape.
Inside you'll find 180 shops and retail outlets on five levels descending downward. The Espace Créateurs at level -1 showcases young, talented designers. Otherwise there's : Zara, Muji, Petit Bateau, Sephora, Esprit and more. This indoor mall also has movie theaters and direct access to the Metro and RER lines. And there's even an indoor swimming pool. (01 44 76 96 56)
Centre Beaugrenelle Paris
The newest of Paris's shopping centers, Beaugrenelle Paris offers the sort of shopping mall-like experience you know and love back home. It's about a 15 minute walk west of the Eiffel Tower, so away from the city center. But it conveniently sits right next to the river bank (quai) so no worries you'd walk past and miss it.
The shopping mall is divided into three separate buildings with the Panoramique building the one that houses Marks & Spencer. It's a three-storey building, this one, and its upper floor restaurants, like the hip Bermuda Onion, offer gorgeous views out onto the Seine and overlook the Maison de la Radio France. There's also a Chipotle on this side, one of the few in the city. The ground floor is a Pathé cinema mutli-plex.
Other shops you can find here at Beaugrenelle are FNAC, Hollister, Aubade, Lacoste, Mango, Café Coton... and more. (0153952400)
This is by no means a shopping mecca, but rather a secret garden shopping experience. Baby Dior and Chanel are sure to get your attention immediately, but the other shops, such as the fairly new hair color bar, Bar des Coloristes, at the opposite end speak to a lady's soul. (They whip up tailor-made hair color potions, with or without ammonia, after a thorough consultation and analysis of your hair).
Guy Degrenne is another of my favorite shops here. If you have a soft spot for dishware, cutlery, candlestick holders, crystal ware and other kitchen essentials, you can easily be completely unaware of the time slipping by while browsing in there.
Of course, the middle part of this petite outdoor, secluded shopping arcade is dominated by a lovely caf� that offers welcoming tables and chairs at which to sit and enjoy a light meal, or a conversation, or both.
Montparnasse Rive Gauche
This shopping mall is right next to the Montparnasse Tower so finding it is not a problem. (The Tour Montparnasse is the tallest building in Paris and is on the Left Bank). The shops inside are the standard mall shops like 1-2-3 and Habitat and such. But this mall does have its very own Galeries Lafayette which makes it a standout and also its own C&A which is a German-based department store (think JC Penny's).
For eating and theater options, those are mostly to be found all around the mall. This part of Montparnasse is a commercial district so anything you don't find in the mall you'll find across the street and also along rue de Rennes. This is a good option for when going outside the city is too much of a time commitment but you still have that shopping list to get through. (01.45.38.68.00)
La Galerie du Carrousel du Louvre
Surely only the French are audacious enough to put an indoor shopping mall underneath the world's most famous and revered museum. Nevermind that the Louvre was once home to kings and queens, it is now still home to Mona (Lisa) and Venus (de Milo).
That aside, this is one of the loveliest shopping malls, and certainly the most conveniently located one, in Paris. Last year the luxury department store, Au Printemps, opened up a new location at the Carrousel to much fanfare.
Among the boutiques you can find here are a Fragonard perfume shop, Lalique, Nature et Découverte and Yellow Korner, which is a chain store of high-end frameable art photos. The Point WC – privately run public toilets - here is also convenient and clean.
There is actually even a food court here, too. It offers a dozen or more choices and seating for hundreds. (01 43 16 47 10)
The newest metro line, Line 14, delivers you straight to Bercy Village. So, if you leave from the Madeleine stop, it's only about 10 or 15 minutes. For the summer time especially, this is a great choice since the way the outdoor mall is laid out is really more like a village. Amidst quasi-cobblestoned streets and stone façade storefronts, you'll find in your wanderings here an Agnès b., Alice Délice, Sephora, Arteum and more. And Eric Kayser, the famous Parisian baker, has a lunch room here at Bercy. Nice.
When Bercy Village opened a good few years ago, people were as excited about the dining choices as its shopping options. I guess it's a matter of perspective. The thing is, when you're traveling, you often have several perspectives to please all at the same time. Bercy Village, then, can serve as a very pleasing choice. (33 1 40 02 90 80)
The Champs-Elysées is the Paris version of Rodeo Drive � with a couple hundred more years of history added on. The Arc de Triomphe frames one end of the avenue and the Concord obelisk the other.
Like Rodeo Drive, however, you don't have to be in the market for luxury goods to appreciate the grandeur and beauty that come with being one of the most expensive streets in the world.
The Champs-Elysées is home to gorgeous buildings along a tree-lined street that, perhaps surprisingly, offers shops for every budget. Along with the likes of Tiffany & Co., you can find European favorites like Zara, a trendy, but much more affordable clothing store.
There's also any number of galleries that lead off from the Champs, for example Le 66 or the Claridge gallery of shops. These serve as mini-malls within the larger outdoor mall that the Champs-Elysées has become. (01 49 52 42 63)
Boutiques du Palais des Congrès
The shopping here is upscale and luxury. It's fitting because the theatrical venue here is where some of Paris's biggest productions are staged ; Think Mamma Mia ! or Riverdance. One of the conveniences here is that you can exit the metro and enter directly into the Palais des Congr�s. For winter time shopping excursions that's a plus.
Boutique luxury shops you'll find awaiting you are : Boss, Gerard Darel, Lancel, George Rech and many more. There are one or two public seating areas where you can rest and log into the free WiFi. There are also a couple of eateries where you can grab a coffee and a snack. The ultra hotel, Concorde � La Fayette, is on the far side, once you've passed by most of the shops and boutiques. They, of course, offer several dining options.
Le Passage du Havre
This St. Lazare area is known mostly for the big French department stores of Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette who have their main branches nearby. But once you've had your fill of those, it's worth trekking around the corner to this little indoor shopping mall, a converted Passage.
Paris is riddled with « passages » which are traditionally indoor walkways often built between buildings. They are forerunners, if you will, to indoor shopping malls.
This one, Passage du Havre, has been top-to-bottom renovated. There is also a FNAC for the electronic gadget-geeks among you, a Sephora and an Yves Rocher for the ladies looking to stock up on beauty supplies. And there's even a Louis Pion for the luxury inclined.
The only suprises you'll get here are how big and spacious the interior is and how lovely it is to enjoy escalators that actually work.
La Vallée Village
This is the outlet mall that sets the standard for outlet mall shopping in Paris. It's outside the city so plan on dedicating a whole day to shopping. Still, you won't find bargains like these inside the city center. And there's everything here: bags, homeware, shoes, accessories and of course clothing stores and eateries.
This outlet mall successfully aims for an international clientele. And the brands and stores here represent that. For example, you will even find Coach bags here and yes, you can find last season's bag at outlet mall prices.
Keep track of your purchases, too, because once your spending exceeds a certain amount, you are eligible to get a refund on the taxes that were included in your purchases. Mind you, you will be required to show your passport and prove that you are just a visitor or tourist to France qualify for the refund. (01 60 42 35 00)
About Paige Donner
Paige is a transplanted Parisian. She first arrived as a young bride in the early 90s to live in Paris, having uprooted herself from her native California.
Paige has two APPs: #ParisFoodAndWine and #BordeauxFoodAndWine available on Apple and Android.
Paige hosts Paris GOODfood+wine which airs on World Radio Paris and is also available on iTunes. When not in Paris Paige often visits vineyards and wine regions. She is also founder of Paris Food And Wine.
As a journalist, Paige writes/has written for the NY Times,LA Times, Michelin Guide, Fodor's, Blackbook, Variety
Read more about Paige Donner here.
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