Around June, the words on everybody’s lips are “les Soldes” (the Sales) which start on Wednesday June 25, and finish on July 29. Like the winter sales, which take place from January 8 to February 12, the summer sales give stores the opportunity to sell off their old stock, and us buyers the chance to pick up some serious bargains!
French Shopping at a Discount – the Paris Sales
During the sales period, stores gradually reduce their prices, according to strict state regulations. The law requires that labels should clearly indicate 1) the previous price, crossed out, 2) the new price and 3) the total discount amount. Neither are stores allowed to slip non-sales items in among their stock on offer – anything not included in the sale must be made clearly visible. The French are pretty hot on their consumer rights, so don’t be afraid to stick to your guns if you spot any misleading labels or signs!
The main question you have to ask yourself is: Do I go at the start of the sales, when there is the most choice, or at the end when the prices are at their lowest? If you’re looking for shoes or clothes, we recommend you go at the start, or you’ll find yourself falling in love with a pair of stilettos, or a killer LBD, only to find that they haven’t got your size left. Heartbreak. Many Parisians choose the middle period, when you can find reductions of around 60/70%, but there’s still a good range of products. Be aware that many – most, even – stores operate a no-returns policy during the sales, so don’t hesitate to take pictures and compare prices. This does not, however, apply to manufacturing defaults or hidden defects.
The Best Places to Buy
For Designer Deals
Forget the Champs Elysées, it’ll be jam-packed (especially during the sales). Instead, stroll down the luxurious Faubourg Saint-Honoré street, where the boutiques are smaller and customer service is better. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
Metro Concorde, Tuileries (Line 1), Pyramides (Line 7, 14)
For Everything in one Place
The rue de Rivoli is the stomping ground for clothes and shoe shoppers on a lower budget. It gets insanely busy on the weekends, however, so we strongly advise you check it out during the week, before 6pm and not between 12-2 pm when workers use their lunch breaks to pick up a bargain!
Paris’ top department stores are BHV (on the rue de Rivoli), Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Bon Marché. Don’t let the name of the last one fool you (Bon Marché means Good Value): they all sell high-end designer brands.
The new mall Beaugrenelle is not bad, as far as malls go. It’s clean, you won’t get lost (avoid Les Halles for both these reasons), and there’s a good selection of stores and cafés for weary feet. The only downside is that, while it has a good location by the Eiffel Tower, it is not particularly near any metro stations, which isn’t ideal if you’re laden down with shopping bags… Taxi!
For Quirky One-of-a-kinds
Don’t miss out on a visit to the Marais quarter if you want to pick up unusual, even vintage, items. You’ll find antiques and fine art around the Place des Vosges, or chic clothing boutiques around the rue de Temple, for example. There’s also the added advantage of stores staying open on Sundays.
Metro Saint-Paul (Line 1) or Hotel de Ville (Line 1, 11)
After a busy day pounding Paris’ pavements, why don’t you explore the quieter side of Paris by night, without the footwork, on a night-time Segway tour? Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect!