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. Chanel

    Champs-Élysées

    Elegant, modern looks with sex appeal and lasting value are Chanel's stock-in-trade. Although the spectacularly beautiful Avenue Montaigne flagship takes shoppers' breath away, the heart...Read More

  • 2. Chloé

    Louvre

    Much like the clothes it sells, Chloé's flagship boutique is softly feminine and modern without being stark. Housed in an 18th-century mansion, its creamy marble...Read More

  • 3. Comptoirs Bourdonnais

    Eiffel Tower

    A stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower, this boutique does all the work for you, with a handpicked collection of standout clothing and accessories from...Read More

  • 4. Didier Ludot

    Louvre

    The incredibly charming Didier Ludot inspired a fervent craze for vintage couture, and rifling through his racks of well-preserved, French-made pieces from the '20s to...Read More

  • 5. Roseanna

    Marais Quarter

    An absolute favorite address for the kind of beautifully designed, offbeat yet sexy wardrobe staples we've come to expect from Paris designers. First carried only...Read More

  • 6. Valentine Gauthier

    Marais Quarter

    Glamour, nonchalance, and serious chic are what make these highly sophisticated separates standouts for the contemporary woman-on-the-go. Even Gauthier's more tailored, masculine styles manage to...Read More

  • 7. AB33

    Marais Quarter

    AB33 is like a sleek boudoir—complete with comfy chairs and scented candles—and the clothes here are unabashedly feminine. Separates in luxury fabrics from top designers,...Read More

  • 8. agnès b.

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    A loyal clientele has been devoted to agnès b. since the clothing brand was created in 1975. The simple-yet-innovative modern designs are paired with lasting...Read More

  • 9. Anouschka

    Grands Boulevards

    Anouschka has set up shop in her apartment (open by appointment only, Monday through Saturday), and has rack upon rack of vintage clothing dating from...Read More

  • 10. Antoine & Lili

    Canal St-Martin

    This bright, fuchsia-colored store is packed with an international assortment of eclectic objects and items from Antoine & Lili's own clothing line. There's an ethnic-rummage-sale...Read More

  • 11. Bamyan

    Île Saint-Louis

    A shopping destination since 1986, this stylish purveyor of "ethnic chic" showcases the work of talented young Indian and Middle Eastern designers whose multicolored creations...Read More

  • 12. Berenice

    Eiffel Tower

    One of the more creative French chains, Berenice has made an international splash for its of-the-moment styles, quality fabrics, and the kind of classic tailoring...Read More

  • 13. Carven

    St-Germain-des-Prés

    Daringly original designs that are sexy yet wearable account for Carven’s steady rise into the fashion stratosphere. Artistic director Guillame Henry was tapped in 2014...Read More

  • 14. Comptoir des Cotonniers

    Marais Quarter

    Comfortable, affordable, au courant clothes make this chain popular. Its reputation is built on smart, wearable styles that stress ease over fussiness. Separates in natural...Read More

  • 15. Cornerluxe

    Eiffel Tower

    If new Parisian designer duds are a bit out of your price range you might consider this classy depot-vente (consignment shop), where chic neighborhood ladies...Read More

  • 16. Des Petits Hauts

    Canal St-Martin

    This poetic brand charmed its way into the local fashion idiom with chic yet beguilingly feminine styles. Fabrics are soft, and styles are casual with...Read More

  • 17. Gabrielle Geppert

    Louvre

    Gabrielle Geppert's unique boutique shop takes its inspiration from 20th-century fashion's greatest hits. One part luxury vintage and one part Geppert's eponymous brand, her Palais...Read More

  • 18. Isabel Marant

    Charonne

    The clothes from this full-fledged design star rock out bohemian French stylishness. The separates skim the body without constricting: look for layered miniskirts, loose peekaboo...Read More

  • 19. Loris Azzaro

    Louvre

    When Azzaro saw his 1970s designs, now collector's items, worn by stars like Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet, he decided to update his bestsellers. He's...Read More

  • 20. Maison Ullens

    Champs-Élysées

    A glam Golden Triangle location, a Rem Koolhaas–designed boutique, sumptuous clothes—the Belgian label's first Paris outpost hits all the marks and then some. Founded in...Read More

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