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. Acne Studios


    Justly famous for its sexy, derriere-shaping jeans, this Swedish label daringly mixes genders and genres in body-hugging or oversized, asymmetrical styles that rival some of...Read More

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    This store's A-list fashion credentials come with a big bonus—everything here is ethically and ecologically sourced. Peruse racks of men's and women's wear from handpicked...Read More

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  • 7. FrenchTrotters


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  • 9. Louis Vuitton


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  • 10. Merci

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    Paris's favorite concept store assembles top fashions for men and women, home furnishings (including those irresistible French bed and bath linens), vintage, jewelry, and housewares...Read More

  • 11. Petit Bateau


    This iconic clothing store, originally for kids, provides a fundamental part of the classic French wardrobe from cradle to teen and beyond. The signature T-shirt—cut...Read More

  • 12. Thanx God I'm A V.I.P.

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    If you don't find something you absolutely love among the color-coordinated racks jam-packed with vintage designer and simply fabulous clothing here, we'll eat our cashmere...Read More

  • 13. The Frankie Shop

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    This small-but-mighty boutique has quickly become chic Parisians' go-to place for affordable, eminently wearable, and ever-stylish urban classics. From stunning leather trenches to flowing suits...Read More

  • 14. Y's Yohji Yamamoto

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    Yamamoto's voluminous, draped, and highly coveted Y's label fully expresses itself in this sleek backdrop of white and chrome. Don't expect a varied palette; the...Read More

  • 15. & Other Stories


    H&M’s upscale "style lab" covers all the major fashion bases, appealing to women of different tastes and ages. Unlike the minimalist COS—another H&M spawn—& Other...Read More

  • 16. A.P.C.


    The A.P.C. brand may be antiflash and minimal, but a knowing eye can always pick out its jeans in a crowd. The clothes here are...Read More

  • 17. A.P.C. Surplus


    A.P.C. opened its surplus store steps away from Sacré-Coeur. No need to wait for sales; funky classics can always be found here for a whopping...Read More

  • 18. agnès b.

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    A household name in Paris, agnès b. has earned rock-star status among two generations of fashionistas. Her artsy-yet-classic aesthetic translates to a slew of well-made...Read More

  • 19. agnès b.


    This shop embodies the quintessential French approach to easy but stylish dressing. There are many branches, and the clothes are also sold in department stores,...Read More

  • 20. Balmain


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