I wouldn’t ever recommend just a day-trip to Paris, but if you’ve only got a day to spare and shopping is high up (or the only item) on the agenda, then here’s a list of places that you absolutely must hit up and can be squeezed into just 12 hours (tried and tested by the 3 mouseketeers).
While it’s true that brand name designer goods are slightly less astronomically priced in Paris as compared to say, Hong Kong or London, let’s be honest here, it’s pretty easy to waltz into a department store anywhere in the world and pick up the exact same item (albeit at a slightly higher price). Also, I assume you know where to go for these things, and you won’t need me to waste space re-writing it here.
So ladies, let’s do something distinctly Parisian: Consignment Stores.
There is a huge market in Paris for used designer clothing/ bags/ accessories/ shoes. We’re talking both haute couture and ready-to-wear collections. You’ll find these gems hidden away in tiny little hole-in-the-walls scattered all over Paris, there’s literally one in every neighbourhood.
The market is big because so many Parisian women want to be at the height of fashion at all times. So, they sell off their designer clothes as soon as the season changes even if they have hardly worn them (which is wonderful for scavengers like us!) The stores which sell these clothes on consignment are known as dépot-ventes. The prices aren’t low per se, but you’ll pay a whole lot less than if they were brand new.
The best thing about consignment stores in Paris is that their owners are just as picky about the quality of items as you are (sometimes even more so), and will rarely let you walk out if something doesn’t fit exactly right (I would know, they stopped me from buying 3 exquisite pieces because they were a wee bit too big in the chest area – to which my response was to exclaim GROW BOOBIES GROW!). So if you’re worried about the quality or condition – don’t be, the pieces are in excellent condition and à la mode.
If your budget permits, it’s worth checking out some of these stores for high fashion at moderate (for high fashion) prices.
We spent most of our time here. The proprietor is a lovely french lady with a mop of blond hair who doesn’t speak a word of English and instead depends on her very trusty sidekick to translate. She does however know her shop like the back of her hand, and literally conjures up items I couldn’t have hoped to spot even if I were given hours to peruse the racks upon racks heaped high with beautiful clothes.
Apparently, most of the items are left by models so the sizing runs small (good for Asians) and it is all in mint condition – Min’s louboutin booties didn’t have a single scuff to mar the lush red sole. We also found a beautiful ultra feminine Lanvin cocktail dress, complete with Elbaz’s signature layers of ruffles and bows. It was divine! But alas, too big in the bust. There was an adorable LV navy and grey polka dot sweater, a classic gucci bamboo handle bag in great condition (too bad none of us was in the market for one) and a Rick Owens leather vest (at a fraction of the original price).
Lucky Min walked away with both the booties and the off-white Rick Owens leather vest [pictured below] While I pouted about the Lanvin dress for a good long while.
18, rue du Roi de Sicile, 4th arrondissement, Métro St. Paul,
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11-1 and 2:30-7
Top on the list of must-see stores that don’t fall into the consignment category would be Merci! [Pictured above] It is delightful! Hidden behind a little café and a charming courtyard, you’d never find it if you were on the lookout for a department store. But it is a must must see – even if you don’t end up buying anything. I consider it the quainter, more charming, and less touristy version of Colette. Don’t get me wrong, I love Colette, it’s just that it is so hip it hurts.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris, France
01 42 77 00 33
And if you absolutely have to hit up a department store may I recommend Printemps? It’s infinitely more manageable and far less insane than its (in)famous neighbor, Galaries Lafayette. Also marginally less likely to be overrun with Chinese tourists. In addition, there’s a very nice cafe up top where you can relax for a little bit, sip on some Pellegrino and escape the maddening crowds below.
Eat - Don’t bother. Pick up a baquette on the way and keep going.
We didn’t have time to drop into the other Depot Ventes recommended to us, but if you have a chance, the following are supposed to be very good (I scoured the web for more reviews for you)
There are two boutiques featuring men’s and women’s designer clothing. The shop on rue Vavin is more youth oriented while the one on rue Notre Dame des Champs is more classic. In one or the other you’ll find clothing by Yves St Laurent along with Agnès B, in addition to Hermès scarves. They mainly have ready to wear, with an occasional true haute couture item.
Misentroc offers a dynamic mix of classically elegant fashions and trendier pieces. Glistening, black lamb’s leather skirts were $77 to $110; a whimsical white Lacroix dress was $200; a chocolate brown cotton-eyelet blouse with a matching skirt, $132; a sleek Vivienne Westwood dress, $143, and Versace jeans, $50. While I tried on clothes, long-haired students and willowy actresses wandered in – regulars who love Misentroc for its eclectic shopping, hip location, and friendly atmosphere.
63, rue Notre Dame des Champs and
15, rue Vavin, 6th arrondissement
Open Tuesday to Friday, 10:30 to 1 and 2 to 7
Welcome to the biggest complex of clothing resale stores in Paris. Founded in 1978 by Nicole Morel, it now takes up practically the entire block! Prices here are high, but the selection and range is unbeatable. Be prepared for a great collection of designer scarves and shawls and a whole rack of Chanel suits. (Don’t worry, the missing buttons have been removed on purpose and will be sewn back on at no extra cost at the time of sale)
Its seven boutiques each specialize in a different type of clothing, but coats, shoes, boots, accessories, and men’s clothing are among the best buys. I found a red tartan Christian Lacroix suit for $385. I perused a rack of Chanel suits, sweaters and skirts arranged by color. A raspberry boucle jacket was paired with a simple black gabardine skirt for $811; another suit in classic pink wool with black braiding around the collar and pockets was $825. On this floor also were enough racks of Hermes, Prada, Thierry Mugler, Issey Miyake, Dior, John Galliano, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana to make my head spin.
On the lower level, a half-dozen shoppers swarmed around shelves spilling over with shoes and boots by Ferragamo, Karl Lagerfeld, Emanuel Ungaro, Bruno Magli, Bally, Manolo Blahnik, Stephane Kelian, Miu Miu, and Dior. The racks in the coat store bulged with wool and cashmere creations by Hermes, Lacroix, Moschino, Versace, Dior, Prada, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and others. In the accessories shop were glass shelves holding extensive collections of Chanel, Dior, and Vuitton bags.
88-123, rue de la Pompe, 16th arrondissement
Métro Rue de la Pompe
Open Tuesday to Friday 11-7:30, Saturday 10:30-7:30
Original reviews for the other Consignment stores: