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For the first time visitor to Paris there is the tendency to gravitate towards the world famous Champs-Elysees and Paris shopping of Boulevard Haussmann.
The Paris shopping spree is often spurred by the main department stores distributing many free Paris maps and a liberal supply of discount coupons and offers.
For the 'serious' Paris shopper, this is just the commercial mass-market veneer that can divert you from the specialist districts that are for most people more attractive. Les Puces de Saint-Ouen for example is the largest antique market in the world.
Below is a good cross-section of the major Parish shopping districts, well known and not so well known. We've also include a self-guided walk through 'The Passages' something unique to Paris.
Metro: Havre-Caumartin (line 3, 9) or RER: Auber
The equivalent of Oxford Street in London, but dominated by two department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps concentrating top designer collections for men and women, gourmet food shopping, home design, jewellery, and even hardware into a labyrinth of well just about anything.
Metro: Etoile, George V (line 1, 2, 6) or RER: Etoile
The world famous Champs-Elysees attracts most first time visitors at some time or another during their trip. In among the restaurants and mainstream chain stores are some of the more trendier stores and designer outlets.
Metro: Saint-Paul (line 1) or Hotel de Ville
The atmospheric Marais is a prime stomping ground for shoppers with an eye for the unique and finely-crafted, not to mention antique and art lovers. Just to the north of the Rue Rivoli the main west-east road artery that carries much of the traffic.
Try antiques or fine-arts shopping on the Place des Vosges, jewellery shopping on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois or up-and-coming designers on Rue des Rosiers.
Metro: Sevres Babylon (line 10, 12) or Saint Sulpice (line 4)
The shopping nerve centre of this smart neighbourhood is Le Bon Marche, the city’s most stylish department store.
Radiating eastward is a network of streets with oodles of delightful shops, ranging from bargain-oriented Rue Saint-Placide to chain stores and shoe heaven on Rue de Rennes to designer labels and cute boutiques on Rue Saint Sulpice, Rue du Cherche Midi, and Rue du Vieux Colombier.
Metro: Porte de Clingancourt (line 4)
Just head north from the metro under the inner ring road and follow the crowds. This large, extensive market heads west underneath the north side of the inner ring road. Les Puces de Saint-Ouen is considered to be one of the biggest flea markets in the world.
Initial impressions are not good, just the usual flea market junk. But persevere and north of the flyover you enter a world of fine quality furniture, antiques and collectors galleries in nice buildings and endless mini-shopping centres.
Metro: Place Monge, Censier Daubenton (Line 7)
Rue Mouffetard is one of Paris' liveliest market streets. Perhaps not once what it was, you can find find the charming artisan bakeries, cheese or pastry shops, plus some of the city's best fruit and vegetable stands towards the southern end around Censier Daubenton Metro.
The further north you go up the hill to Place Monge it becomes more like a restaurant district.
Scattered around the whole of the Grands Boulevards area are the delightful passages – 19th-century arcades with glass roofs and tiled floors that hark back to shopping from a different era.
Each passages is very different - some are high class, some every day, some collectors. The beauty is that some of the best surviving ones can be linked together very easily.
Our self guided walk starts at the Palais Royal opposite the Louvre. Just use our basic map (right) and you cannot go wrong.
At the Palais Royal walk through to the courtyard and walk along the right hand side to its northerly end. This is the most expensive gallery of the lot with high class art, shoes and antiques predominating. At the far end is a good and expensive restaurant which spills out with tables overlooking the gardens.
At the end of the gallery, along the northern border is a small road - Rue de Beaujolais. You will see a small flight of steps on the opposite side of the road.
At the top of the steps, veer right into Passage des Deux Pavillions (1820), a short gallery which hardly counts. You exit onto the Rue des Petit Champs. Facing you on the other side of the road is the entrance of Gallery Vivienne (1826). The Galleries are not well signposted and the entrances often need looking for.
Gallery Vivienne bends left and eventually spills out onto the street. Turn left on exiting, crossing to the other side of the road. Take the first right into the Rue Des Petit Champs, keeping on the right hand side of the road. After crossing three streets, keep an eye open for the entrance to the Passage Choiseul on your right.
The Passage Choiseul is not as chic as the previous two galleries and more a working gallery for everyday needs. At the end of the gallery turn right on the Rue de Augustin. Follow this road until you get to the busy Rue de Richelieu. Turn left, and follow the Rue de Richelieu, almost immediately crossing the Rue de Quatre Septembre, a major road.
On the other side on your right is the Bourse with a small square. There is sometimes a small market here at weekends. The third turning on your right after Rue de Quatre Septembre is the Rue Saint Marc, take it. The next passage or gallery is the Passage de Panoramas on your left, almost opposite the Rue de Panoramas a small street on your right.
Passage Panaoramas is one of the oldest passages in Paris, dating from 1800.
Immediately opposite on the other side of the road is Passage Jouffroy, built in 1847. To the right of the entrance is the Musee Grevin waxworks, the equivalent to Madame Tussauds in London. There are lots of shops selling curios and second hand books in this passage.
In a similar vein, opposite the northern exit of Passage Jouffroy is the Passage Verdau. This again is weighted towards books and collectables. This is the last gallery and the end of our walk.
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