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. Amélie Pichard


    You'll feel positively cinematic sporting the shoes of this wildly creative young designer, whose career was jump-started in 2014 by a collaboration with her idol...Read More

  • 2. Avril Gau


    After designing a dozen collections for Chanel, Gau struck out on her own, opening this neo-Baroque boutique on the charming Rue des Quatre Vents. She...Read More

  • 3. Christian Louboutin


    It seems the world's romance with heels so high they're potentially lethal will never end, thanks in no small part to the king of the...Read More

  • 4. La Botte Gardiane


    Craftsmanship and style that won't wreck your budget—that's the trademark of this artisan bootmaker that hails from the Camargue, a wild area of Provence where...Read More

  • 5. Bensimon Concept Store


    The Bensimon brothers started their brand over 40 years ago with their now iconic “tennis Bensimon,” flat canvas sneakers with rubber soles and tips, which...Read More

  • 6. Berluti


    Berluti has been making exquisite and expensive men's shoes for more than a century. "Nothing is too beautiful for feet" is Olga Berluti's motto; she...Read More

  • 7. Carel


    This company made a name for itself in the 1950s with its youthful designs that were made to match with the modern fashions of iconic...Read More

  • 8. Christian Louboutin


    These shoes carry their own red carpet with them thanks to their trademark crimson soles. Whether tasseled, embroidered, or strappy, in Charvet silk or shiny...Read More

  • 9. Giuseppe Zanotti Design


    Every pair of shoes here is fetish-worthy, if not downright dangerous. Sky-scraping spike heels, buckle stilettos, slinky python booties, and jewel-encrusted black-satin pumps beg to...Read More

  • 10. Jimmy Choo


    This is the place for vampy stilettoes, strappy flats, and biker boots. Recent Belle de Jour–inspired kitten heels are a nice respite from the famous...Read More

  • 11. K. Jacques

    Marais Quarter

    K. Jacques has shod everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Drew Barrymore. The famous St-Tropez–based maker of strappy leather-soled flats has migrated to the big time...Read More

  • 12. Patricia Blanchet

    Canal St-Martin

    Do not hesitate to run for that taxi in a pair of superchic pumps, flats, or booties from Patricia Blanchet, which are neither too high...Read More

  • 13. Pierre Hardy


    With Vivier and Louboutin, Pierre Hardy completes the triumvirate of anointed Paris shoe designers. Armed with a pedigree—Dior, Hermès, Balenciaga—Hardy opened his own boutique in...Read More

  • 14. Repetto


    Rose Repetto, mother of Roland Petit, started making ballet slippers for her dancer-choreographer son in the 1940s. She soon became the dance-slipper maker of choice...Read More

  • 15. Roger Vivier


    Long known for his Pilgrim-buckle shoes and inventive heels, Roger Vivier's name is being resurrected through the creativity of über-Parisienne Inès de la Fressange and...Read More

  • 16. Verbreuil


    The classic-contemporary handbags here are for women whose sense of style transcends any logo. Refined, discrete, and meticulously crafted down to the finest detail, each...Read More

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