Discount Shopping in Paris 2018 Guide
Discount shopping in Paris might seem overwhelming to first-time visitors or to those on a budget. Because of its haute couture reputation, it makes sense for most people to associate the city with that level of fashion, but in reality, it’s so much more than just Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
When I first arrived in Paris almost six years ago, I remember strolling through the Champs-Elysées neighborhood in complete wonder, gazing at the luminous multi-story Louis Vuitton store, the impossibly chic façade of Hugo Boss and being too intimidated to even set foot in the Dior or Gucci flagship stores. I was in what I would later learn is called “The Golden Triangle.” Everything there is wrapped in luxury and style; it’s like the ad pages of the September issue of Vogue come to life.
Being new to the capital, I then did what every browsing newbie does. I meandered the rue Saint-Honoré, stopping in for a trinket from Marc by Marc Jacobs followed by a visit to the legendary Colette boutique (which totally, to this day, still completely lives up to the hype). Afterward, I made a pit stop at Longchamp and splurged on a cute, rosy pink travel bag that I still managed to get at sale price, as it was the end of the winter soldes.
I was only able to glance longingly at the beautiful merchandise found at Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin before retreating back to my shared flat in Le Marais with my roommates.
But even in that neighborhood, all I saw were high-end boutiques named after independent designers and a few American imports, such as Lee and American Apparel (with more expensive price tags than their US equivalents).
At that point, I figured my only feasible options for future shopping excursions would be H&M or vintage boutiques. Ahh, if only I knew then what I know now.
The answer to my former 20-year-old-student-on-a-budget self and to anyone who needs or wants to shop Paris for reasonable amounts of money lies in: outlet stores. Seems like a simple enough solution, but if you’re unfamiliar with the shopping scene in Paris, it isn’t the most obvious.
Basically, discount shopping in Paris is referred to as “stock stores” or just “stocks.” You’ll know you’ve found one when you see the word “stock” tacked on to the designer or boutique’s name.
Don’t expect to find minuscule prices at all of these places. You can find amazing discounts, sometimes hovering at or above 70%, but depending on the brand, it might be just a case of going from a “Good Lord, I would never” price tag to the “OK, this is doable, but only on the pack-of-ramen-every-night” budget. Still, if you want to find local Parisian pieces at decently affordable prices, hitting the stock stores is one way to go. The only snag is that you’ll mostly be browsing last season’s collections, but as long as you avoid the obviously trendy, does it even matter?
Here is a short list of stock stores we recommend checking out:
Les Petites Stock : With its 50% to 70% discounts, this place is dangerously affordable for twenty- to thirty-somethings looking to bulk up their wardrobe with items from the popular Parisian label. It boasts a balanced mix of classy, casual and trendy prêt-à-porter.
- 11 rue de Marseille 75010 Paris; Open Mon-Sat from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm
A.P.C. Surplus : Another popular yet usually pricey French ready-to-wear brand has an outlet hidden away in the 18th arrondissement near the steps leading up to Sacré Coeur. The average discount is 50% on items from last year’s collections, which include shoes, Japanese selvage denim jeans and minimalist yet well-tailored pieces for men, women and children.
- 20 rue André del Sarte 75018 Paris; Open Mon-Sat from 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 7 pm
Sandro Stock : This gem blends seamlessly into the surrounding chic boutique scheme of the lower Marais, but here you’ll find last year’s collections at 30% to 40% off original prices. Although the result hardly feels like a “giveaway” buy, you’ll be privately doing your happy dance once you possess the shiny leather rock jacket you were pining over when it first came out and will probably never go out of style anyway. We would love to show you these stores and more during our discount shopping tours in Pairs.
- 26 rue de Sévigné 75004 Paris; Open Tues-Sat from 10:30 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 7 pm
Jonak Stock : Shoe addicts, this one’s for you. The popular shoe label has been around since the 1960s, created by Joseph Nakam in the bourgeois chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. Here, you’ll find original, contemporary styles of last year’s sandals, boots, heels, etc. that are of high quality for unbeatable prices. The minimum discount is 30%, but given that Jonak is already one of the more affordable brands around, you should definitely be able to find something in your budget.
- 44 boulevard de Sébastopol 75003 Paris; Open Mon from 12 pm to 2:30 pm, 3 to 7 pm; Tues-Fri from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm, 3 to 7 pm; Saturday from 10:30 to 7:15 pm
One Nation Paris Outlet Mall : For those who want to get all their bargain hunting done while discount shopping in Paris for mid-range to luxury brand names, this is probably your best option. It is just like the outlet malls you’re used to in the states, but with a bevy of hot ready-to-wear Parisian designers lumped into the wide selection of 90 boutiques spread across two exposed levels. The design is modern and minimalist, but you’re not going for the décor — you’re going for the deals. Be forewarned, it is a little bit of a trek outside Paris (30 minutes from the center and 10 minutes from Versailles), but if you can make a day of it, it will be worth the savings. The discounts range from 30% to 70% off all year.
You can opt for the shopping center’s official bus system for easy access, or get someone with a car to take you. Unfortunately, there is no way to get there by train. On the bright side, unlike most businesses that shut down on Sundays, the outlet mall is open every day from 10 am to 8 pm.
1 avenue du Président Kennedy 78340 Les Clayes sous Bois
Bon shopping !
A Non-Famous Shopping Street in Paris: Canal Street
Top 5 Places to Shop on Canal Street
Itching to take a piece of Paris home with you? Ditch the souvenir shops for one of these five Canal St. Martin boutiques.
You may remember Amelie skipping stones over the Canal’s glassy water, or the drama of Marcel Carné’s 1938 Hôtel du Nord unfolding juste en face du quai, but Canal St. Martin has more than cinematic clout. With great coffee shops, bold street art, lively bars, and a bevy of choices for an afternoon of unique shopping, this effortlessly hip quartier has it all!
Their music is loud, and their taste is exceptional. With a mélange of vintage treasures, hipster home goods, jewelry, accessories, and a stunning collection of clothing for both men and women, this concept store has something for everyone. Sculptural vases glazed in pastel colors, funky candles, and bell-shaped glass domes will have you wishing you could take it all home! If you’re looking for a sophisticated souvenir, check out their selection of French-inspired graphic tees. A simple white shirt emblazoned with Mademoiselle boit du rouge in black script says “I went to Paris,” without veering toward tacky tourism. With plenty to choose from, Babel makes for the perfect spot for gifts with flair. They’re even open on Sundays.
facebook.com/babelconceptstore / / 55 Quai de Valmy, 75010
Antoine and Lili
Strolling along the quai, three brightly painted storefronts immediately catch your eye. Lime green, cotton candy pink, and buttery yellow, the Canal St. Martin outposts of the French chain Antoine et Lili beckon. Whimsical and bold, the store’s design matches its inventory: simple yet elegant clothing in bright, kitschy patterns. The hot pink walls and vibrant clothing make this boutique fun, whether you’re purchasing a fabulous new wrap-dress or just window-shopping. Designed and made in France, these clothes come in a variety of inspiring shades and patterns sure to suit any color palette. Unlike other locations in the city, Canal St. Martin boasts boutiques for women’s designs, children’s clothing, and home goods right next to each other for easy browsing. The home goods selection is particularly enjoyable if you’re a fan of patterned crockery!
antoineetlili.com / / 69 Quai de Valmy, 75010
Despite the graphics on the plate glass window proclaiming it to be a pop-up shop, Bensimon is here to stay. Casual and understated, the main lure is a selection of funky, laid-back tennis shoes, which come in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles. From pastels to polka dots, beaded Native American-inspired designs to sketches of eyes, Bensimon has it all. If you prefer heels to casual kicks, check out the racks of color-coded ready-to-wear pieces and accessories. Simple designs in creative color schemes keep your style effortlessly chic—just how the Parisians like it.
Bensimon.com / / 83 Quai de Valmy, 75010
Dante & Maria
Just across the street from Ten Belles, Dante & Maria is the perfect place to check out unique jewelry after a coffee date. The intimate space is filled with delicate designs waiting for discovery. Handmade jewelry by Owner Agnes Sinelle combines delicate French aesthetics with London Punk vibes. Dainty bracelets stamped with “f*ck off” may seem paradoxical, but at Dante & Maria, opposites certainly attract. Elegant wallpaper and taxidermy foxes give the space an Alice in Wonderland feel. Before you head out, check out the temporary tattoos. For those with a phobia of needles, these fun designs have a graphic, visual punch without the commitment.
dantemaria.fr / / 3 rue de la Grange aux Belles
L’Atelier Green Factory
There’s a lush forest growing just next door to Holybelly—one of the darlings of the Parisian coffee scene. Fresh, bright, and overflowing, L’Atelier Green Factory sells indoor houseplants in small sizes—perfect for Parisian apartments or your carry-on luggage. Lacy ferns and soft moss rest under bell-shaped glass domes. Plants move softly in the breeze from the open door. Gardening experts trim back unruly new growth with handy shears. The minimalistic color scheme—white walls, overflowing green plant life—places the emphasis on the product. As someone who has always wished for a green thumb, these self-contained mini gardens are a dream come true: maximum greenery with minimum effort.
greenfactory.fr / / 17 rue Sampaix, 75010
Shopping in Paris for Women, Especially Mom
Top 10 Gift Ideas
Although Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday in the US, the French don’t celebrate until the last Sunday in May. The honored traditions are pretty similar, with there usually being a family dinner and meaningful gifts and cards to give. If you’re looking for some last-minute Mother’s Day gift ideas, here’s a list of 10 French-inspired things you can offer to your chère maman to celebrate her this year.
- Make her a French brunch: Give your Mom a well-deserved break from cooking by preparing a delicious brunch meal à la parisienne. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Plate of fresh-baked croissants and pain au chocolat. You can get these from a local bakery or the bakery section of your grocery store
- Generous bread basket filled with fresh, sliced French baguette, sourdough or whichever kind your mom prefers
- Selection of fruit jams and jellies by Bonne Maman, which you can find in the States and high-quality butter
- Colorful fruit salad
- Oeufs bénédict (Egg’s benedict) made with indulgent French Hollandaise sauce
- Jacques Pépin’s potatoes fondantes by Rachael Ray
- Various French cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert and Chèvre (goat’s cheese)
- Thinly sliced cured meats or sausage
- Pain perdu for dessert (French toast). Try this recipe by Ina Garten or this stunning tarte tatin from Martha Stewart.
- French beauty products: Many major cosmetic and skincare companies are French, as French women place a ton of importance on good skin products that help them age gracefully. The plastic surgery culture is nothing compared to that of the States, and those who partake in it do so very much under the radar. Some great choices are: Caudalie, Clarins, Diptyque, L’Oréal, Kérastase, Lancôme, Laura Mercier Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, Yves Rocher.
- The book Paris in Love by Eloisa James: A touching, funny mémoir written by an American woman from Minnesota, wife and mother of two, who had dreamt of Paris all her life. After a breast cancer scare, she ends up doing what some people only dream of doing — uprooting the family and moving to the City of Lights for a year. It’s a light, easy read, the perfect gift for an overworked mom in need of a relaxing literary escape. http://eloisajames.com/parisinlove/
- Macarons: Macarons are a quintessential French treat and a sweet substitution for generic, store-bought Mother’s Day cakes from the store. They take some time to make, but your mom will love these adorable and utterly delicious cookies that she can enjoy all week long.
- Paper gifts by celebrated fashion blogger Garance Doré: Doré’s sketched Paris Poster is cute and classy, the perfect wall decoration to add a sophisticated French touch to your mom’s home. Accompany it with this adorable “Drink wine and carry on” greeting card.
- The movie classic “Sabrina,” starring Audrey Hepburn: As Mademoiselle Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea.” Films are such rare gifts these days with all the streaming websites, TiVos and Netflix. Sometimes, it’s best to just go the old-fashioned route and go with a DVD your Mom can watch whenever she wants. The beautiful Paris scenes will have her dreaming of escaping there someday (and maybe she’ll take you with her!)
- Mariage Frères Bouddha bleu tea bags from Dean & Deluca: French tea is serious business, and your mom will love you for offering up a lovely box from one of France’s oldest and most distinguished tea houses. This green tea flavored with blue cornflowers will come in ultra handy the next time she needs a relaxing and healthy boost to her day.
- Crêpe pan: Get her this useful device so she can cook up savory or sweet crêpes anytime she wants. Offer it with a jar of prepared crêpe mix, and write out some classic recipes on cute stationery to give her ideas. Some good ones are banana and Nutella with coconut shavings, butter and fruit jam, ham and grated Swiss, smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives, or the gourmand “complet” made of ham, shredded cheese, mushrooms and a fried egg.
- Antique cheese board: You can’t go wrong with a serving platter for cheese! If your mom’s a wino, she’ll especially appreciate this thoughtful gift that she can break out on her own or for entertaining. If you can find a vintage cheese board, even better. French women adore antique items, and if you take the time to look for a special one, your mom will appreciate it even more.
- Champagne: This one’s a no-brainer. Go with Veuve Clicquot. It’s one of the more affordable French champagnes, and there is no sacrifice in quality. Pop the cork, and wake your mom up with Mimosas made with fresh-squeezed orange juice to get her Mother’s Day started on a bubbly note.
Through with Discount Shopping in Paris? High End vs. Luxury Shopping Explained (Bonus Section!)
Often used interchangeably, the words luxury and high-end are splashed across a mélange of consumer goods, from clothes to cars to the vintage ear cuff you bought in that off-the-map boutique. So, what’s the difference between the two?
The Exclusive Scoop
The difference between high-end and luxury boils down to exclusivity. High-end items are mass-produced to maximize profitability, while luxury goods are often handmade in small quantities to preserve the prestige of the brand. Take for example the Chanel Iconic Purse, which was created for one fashion show and never made again. Although high-end goods are still produced of fine quality, you run the risk of copying someone’s look on your next outing.
The exclusivity of distribution also plays a major role in distinguishing luxury from high-end. High-end brands utilize a broad variety of channels, such as Michael Kors, whose products are available in corporate stores, department stores, and by catalog. Our Habsa Leather and Metal Vest is only available on our website; you won’t see it in a Macy’s window any time soon!
Another difference between luxury and high-end lies in communication. Luxury brands will not be plastered on a freeway billboard for all to view. Rather, luxury brands seek to educate consumers in a more selective, finessed manner. Think personalized messages via social media or a customized email, unlike the cookie-cutter catalog that arrives on your doorstep each month.
Haute Couture: The Luxury of Luxury
But wait, there’s more! Haute couture is the créme de la créme of luxury brands. To be considered an haute couture house, businesses must adhere to criteria set by the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris. The list of houses that make the cut is narrow, so haute couture pieces are the epitome of exclusivity. What makes haute couture so special? The clothing is made from scratch with the finest of materials and embellishments, taking up to 400 hours to sew just one dress!
Another perk of being an haute couture house is the esteem that trickles down to the business’s ready-to-wear. A prime example is Christian Dior, including our Christian Dior Haute Couture 2-Piece Suit and Vintage Christian Dior Brown Fur Jacket.
The Gist of It
If you are looking for a specialty, one-of-a-kind piece in a flagship store, chances are you are buying luxury. If you are shopping for a quality piece in a department store, you are most likely buying high-end. Ultimately, your retail purchases should meet your needs, whether they are labeled haute couture, luxury, premium-luxury, luxury lifestyle, high-end, or any other combination marketers whip up. Happy shopping!