Did someone say Sale? Paris Soldes 101
Sale season is upon us--or as the French call it "LES SOLDES". Basically what this means is that all of Paris (and Europe for that matter) goes on sale for about 6 weeks, so now till around February 19th. To all the shopaholics, there was talk that this was going down to 4 weeks , but looks like that has not taken effect yet.
For those who plan ahead, the summer dates will be June 26th through August 26th 2019. I actually have friends who make a bi-annual sojourn to Paris from NY to specifically shop the soldes.
Fun Fact: The sales in America are MUCH BETTER after shopping soldes season for almost two years. Saying that, Paris is really great to shop the luxury designers and the bonus is you get VAT back on your purchases above 175€. So before you start shopping, here are some tips for maximizing your time and your wallet.
SHOP EARLY. SHOP LATE.
Okay, so when you shop depends on your objective. If you have a lot of money to burn and are dying to get your hands on the hot item of last season, shop your favorite stores (magasins) early. The early part of the season will have the lowest markdowns (démarque), but will have the best selection. If you are on a budget, I advise shopping the later part of the sale. They take markdowns pretty much every week so it pays to wait unless you are eyeing something super specific.
PRO TIP: Visit the stores prior to the sale period and try on what you are lusting so when Soldes begins you know exactly what you need and the size to save time. If you work, the first day of soldes, you may want to take the morning or the day off to make sure you get what you are coveting. If you are playing the long game make sure to subscribe to the emails of stores you want to hit. You will get a notification every time they take a markdown.
SUPER PRO TIP: Get friendly with the shop owners and staff at your favorite shop. They will hold your items for you so you won’t have to worry about the undesirable logistics.
SHOP LUXURY BRANDS
Paris is the best place to shop luxury if you are not a French citizen because you don't pay the import taxes so certain luxury items actually cost less here than they do back home (ie-Chanel handbags ❤️). Like the US, Chanel and status brands will not be marking down any of the classics, basics or iconic must haves, but you can get a good price on off season merchandise. The best part is the VAT that you will receive back if you are not a citizen here once you make your way to the airport. To me, it's like three sales in one!
Shop the boutiques vs the department stores for Chanel, Dior, Prada, etc if you want more of a selection. But if you prefer one stop shopping the department stores are best for you. They all have shops in shops concepts grouped by designer type. So you can shop luxury (Chanel, Hermès, Alexander McQueen), contemporary (Maje, Sandro, Zara) or Classics (Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Gucci) all in one place.
PRO-TIP: If you are visiting, I recommend shopping the department store route if what you are looking for is not too diverse, so it is one stop shopping. I say this because they add up your total receipts to qualify for the VAT purchase and you don't have to deal with the chaotic airport scenario. Though all department stores have this feature, my favorite is Le Bon Marché because it is such a pleasant and serene experience.
SUPER PRO-TIP: Sign up for Le Bon Marche’s emails and their fidelity card. You will be the first to know about all their upcoming markdowns, and the points really add up!
SHOP THE OUTLETS
Ok, for those of you willing to make the trek out of Paris, I highly suggest doing a day or afternoon trip to La Vallée Village. The prices here are pretty much amazing all year round, but things get crazy during sale season--talking like 70% off so you are saving hundreds to thousands off original retail depending on what you buy. And I'm talking luxury brands here like Burberry, Armani, Gucci, Versace... you get it. So make the trip. It. Is. Worth. It.
PRO TIP: If you are a Gucci fan, I suggest getting there early since they are the one store that always seems to have a line. They open at 9am weekdays and 10 am weekends.
BONUS: There is a regular mall attached to the Village so you can shop other stores as well and even indulge in some dining.
SUPER PRO-TIP: If you are a visitor who makes their bi-annual journey to City Pharma, the prices at the pharmacy at La Vallée are much less than that!
OFF SITE AND PRIVATE SALES
So, one of my favorite things about Paris is all the private sales that take place here especially for some of the luxury houses. My favorite one so far has to be the Hermés sale and unlike the US, it is NOT invite only. It takes place twice a year at Palais de Congress--once in January (9th and 10th) and once in June. I won't lie to you, the line is super long, but it is worth it if you’re looking to pick up a few extra things. For June dates, click here.
Another of my favorite subscription services is Arlettie. They have a whole calendar of events that takes place throughout the year including soldes season. My favorite ones to shop so far are Longchamp, Givenchy and Victoria Beckham. The basic service is free. Premium membership does include a fee and grants you access one day earlier than the public.
PRO-TIP: If you attempt to shop the Hermés sale, I suggest you either hire a person to get on line for you at 4am or get in line at that time yourself. Doors to the sale don't open till 9am, but believe me you want to be part of that first group in, not just because of the selection, but because of the time you will wait otherwise. At this year's sale people who got on line at 8am did not make it into the sale till almost 5pm. You wait in line indoors, not outside like an animal, because this is Paris!
SUPER PRO-TIP: Hot sections are Scarves, Jewelry and Shoes. So once you get into the sale you have unlimited time to be in there. That is why it took almost 8 hours for people to get in--they only let people in once they let people out. But within each section you have about 10-15 minutes to shop that section. So depending on your poison, I suggest getting on that line and getting back on that line again if you are not able to find everything you want during your first timed entry. If you have friends going with you, put a strategy in place and have one in charge of shopping one section. True meaning of #StrengthInNumbers
SHOP THE SMALL STREETS
I personally love the small boutiques in Paris--1. Because their selections are usually unique so I won't be seeing someone else wearing my outfit, 2-I like helping small businesses and emerging designers/houses. Instead of listing them all, here are some of my favorite streets by neighborhood.
St Germain: Rue Cherche Midi, Rue du Bac, Rue Vavin, Rue Bonaparte, Rue de Furstemberg
1st Arrondisement: Rue St. Honoré, Faubourg St. Honoré
The Marais: Rue Vieille du Temple, Rue de Poitou
PRO-TIP: Once you are in one of these neighborhoods wander around to the smaller side streets and get lost. I have found the best treasures that way, as well as great surprises whether it be a new cool restaurant or something cultural.
So, that’s your Shopping 101 to the Paris Soldes—Bon Chance!