Paris Shopping Centers: They Do Exist, and These Are the Best
By Paige Donner
Paris Local Expert
For many years the only real shopping center within Paris city limits that I’d ever visit is Passy Plaza. Deep in the 16th arrondissement and accessible by rue de Passy, the street entrance hardly hints that there is a vast mall hidden underneath the modern residential building. But with Starbuck’s, H&M, Monoprix and Zara Home all nested inside, it makes for satisfying shopping.
My now favorite, however, is across the river, in the 15th arrondissement. This is the Centre Beaugrenelle Paris. While it was being built, the Beaugrenelle Shopping Center was controversial. But its sleek 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.
When I’m feeling very ladylike, that translates to a look in at Baby Dior and Chanel, followed by a café on the exquisite terrace, I head to Village Royal. 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; Sort of like the newly renovated Forum Des Halles, another vast Parisian shopping mecca.
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)
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.
Forum des Halles
Even if the above-ground facelift is still a work-in-progress, the Forum des Halles is a must stop for shopping. It's surrounded by all the funky and offbeat boutiques and cafés that make Les Halles a magnet for the youth, many of whom sport skateboards. The entrance to the below ground shopping mall is currently still covered with construction scaffolding and can be a bit offputting if you don't read French. But if you do read the signs you'll see that they announce that the shops are very much open for business during the exterior renovations. 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 (01 44 76 96 56)
Paris is full of passages. And while, no, these aren't necessarily hidden nor secret passages, they are covered passages and are nothing if not the predecessors to what we now know as indoor shopping malls. It pays to spend some time discovering the passages of Paris. There are many. Some of the best ones are in and around the Bourse and Grands Boulevards ; the historical centers where the city's commerce once took place. Galerie Vivienne is one of the most beautiful and is still resplendent with quaint, quirky boutiques. Jean-Paul Gaultier's boutique assures that this tucked away passage will not be forgotten, and Cave Legrand, the exquisite wine shop, gives you all the more reason to go. Bring a book so that when you stop at A Priori Th�, you have a good excuse to dawdle and simply sit and soak up the time and history of your surroundings.
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.
Passy Plaza is a tucked away little secret of the uppercrust 16th arrondissement. Unless you live in Passy, once home to Benjamin Franklin, you probably have never heard of this little shopping mall as it's rarely listed anywhere. Its main entrance is from rue de Passy, a substantial little shopping street that rivals the best of them in St. Germain. The shops you'll find inside this shopping mall that takes up the ground and lower levels of a high-rise residential building are Zara Home, H&M, Gap, L'Occitane, Monoprix along with luxury clothing, shoes, make up and accessory boutiques. A very large grocery store on the basement level completes the scenario. If you take the back exit, you will pass a parapharmacy and a fantastic kitchen supply shop on your way out. By the way, there is complimentary WiFi throughout the Plaza. (0140500907)
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. From then on it has been an on-again, off-again love affair with the City of Lights, one that has grown fonder over time. Paige hosts Paris GOODfood+wine and World of Wine for World Radio Paris. When not in Paris Paige often travels visiting French vineyards. She's also producer of Paris Food And Wine. As a journalist, Paige also writes for the NY Times,LA Times, Michelin Guide, Fodor's, Blackbook, Variety
Read more about Paige Donner here.