Paris

Nothing, but nothing, can push you into the current of Parisian life faster than a few hours of shopping. Follow the lead of locals, who slow to a crawl as their eyes lock on a tempting display. Window-shopping is one of this city's greatest spectator sports; the French call it lèche-vitrine—literally, "licking the windows"—which is fitting because many of the displays look good enough to eat.

Store owners here play to sophisticated audiences with voracious appetites for everything from spangly flagship stores to minimalist boutiques to under-the-radar spots in 19th-century glass-roofed passages. Parisians know that shopping isn't about the kill, it's about the chase: walking down cobblestone streets looking for items they didn't know they wanted, they're casual yet quick to pounce. They like being seduced by a clever display and relish the performance elements of browsing. Watching them shop can be almost as much fun as shopping yourself.

And nowhere is the infamous Parisian "attitude" more palpable than in the realm of fine shopping—the more haute the more hauteur.

Parisians are a proud bunch, and they value decorum. So dress to impress—and remember your manners. You must say bonjour upon entering a shop and merci, au revoir when leaving, even if it's to no one in particular. Think of it more as announcing your coming and going. Beyond this, protocol becomes less prescribed and more a matter of good judgment. If a salesperson is hovering, there's a reason; let him or her help you. To avoid icy stares, confidence and politeness go a long way.

As for what to buy, the sky's the limit in terms of choices. If your funds aren't limitless, however, take comfort in knowing that treasures can be found on a budget. And if you do decide to indulge, what better place to make that once-in-a-blue-moon splurge? When you get home and friends ask where you got those to-die-for shoes, with a shrug you'll casually say, "These? Oh . . . I bought them in Paris."

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  • 1. Maison Chaudun

    Eiffel Tower

    Maverick chocolatier Michel Chaudun was a legend around Paris. Trained at the Maison du Chocolat, the master confectioner was the very first to strike out...Read More

  • 2. Pierre Hermé

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    Pierre Hermé might just be Paris's most renowned pâtissier, and this shop has the peerless cakes and macarons, and many chocolate delights (classic varieties, like...Read More

  • 3. Rrraw

    Grands Boulevards

    Just when Paris thought its already phenomenal chocolate scene couldn't get any better, chocolatier Frédéric Marr opened this chic chocolate factory and boutique in 2007....Read More

  • 4. Debauve & Gallais

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    The two former chemists who founded Debauve & Gallais in 1800 became the royal chocolate purveyors and were famed for their "health chocolates," made with...Read More

  • 5. Henri Le Roux

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    The originator of the renowned caramel au beurre salé, Henri Le Roux pairs a Breton pedigree with Japanese flair. Brilliant confections result. ...Read More

  • 6. Jacques Genin

    Marais Quarter

    Genin offers great chocolate: not too sweet, with handpicked seasonal ingredients for the velvety ganaches. The tea salon is a great spot to sample one...Read More

  • 7. Jean-Charles Rochoux

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    Rochoux makes three superb collections of artisanal chocolates: the Ephemeral, with fresh fruit; Made-to-Measure, in the form of animals and figurines; and the Permanent Collection...Read More

  • 8. Jean-Paul Hévin

    Louvre

    Forty masterful varieties of chocolate and some of the best pastries in Paris earned Jean-Paul Hévin his world-class chocolatier status. Devotees will be pleased to...Read More

  • 9. La Maison du Chocolat

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    A bit less artisanal than most of the others, the silky ganaches still have subtlety and flavor. See the website for a full list of...Read More

  • 10. Patrick Roger

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    Paris's bad-boy chocolatier likes to shock with provocative shapes and wicked humor, but it all tastes sinfully good. He designs every detail in his shops,...Read More

  • 11. Pierre Marcolini

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    Sourcing his star ingredient from independent farmers, Pierre Marcolini proves it's all in the bean. His specialty saveurs du monde ("flavors of the world") collection...Read More

  • 12. Richart

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    How do I love thee? The ways are too numerous to count. As the name implies, each tiny square of Richart chocolate is a colorful...Read More

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