Paris Bargain Shopping: Flagships, Flea Markets & Outlet Malls
This quickie trip to Paris has flown by (when in Paris, time is always short,n’est-ce
pas?), especially since one day was spent in Brussels. Yes, it’s possible,
and easy, to make a chocolate run in one day when you’re born to shop!
While Paris isn’t known for affordable shopping, it’s ‘burbs have hidden gems
filled with bargains. I couldn’t wait to check out Val d’Europe Shopping Center and the connecting La Vallee Outlet Village.
They’re one train stop (or five minutes by taxi) from Disneyland Paris, but
there’s nothing Mickey Mouse about this all-inclusive shopping venue.
At the eastern end of the complex, La Vallee hosts a mix of big-name local
designers and international labels.
The Armani outlet is one of best I’ve visited,
and I’ve been to the big discount store near Como. I found a Black Label classic
lightweight wool trouser suit marked down 70 percent; with an additional 50
percent off (it had a color-coded discount dot on the tag), the final price was
214 euros, or about $280. Not too shabby!
The outlet village is conveniently designed in a single avenue which leads to
Sea Life aquarium and a huge central food court. I grabbed a quick burger at
McDo and then continued walking into the glitzy Val d’Europe mall. Conceived and
designed as an enclosed pedestrian boulevard, the shopping center is home to
more than 125 shops and a multitude of services including an SNCF train ticket
office, ATMs and a walk-in doc-in-the-box emergency clinic. There are
bookstores, mid-priced clothing (Camaieu is a fave for inexpensive one-season
fashion), beauty supply boutiques, and a huge Auchan supermarket at the far end
where I picked up a picnic dinner and snacks for my hotel room.
If you’re used to malls in the US, then you’ll be right at home at Val
Transportation to the shops is easy. From Paris, take the RER A train towards
Marne La Vallee/Parc Disneyland. Exit at Val d’Europe (one station before Parc
Disneyland). This will take you to the Auchan side of the mall; the outlets are
located at the other end. There’s also a Cityrama shuttle to La Vallee, which
leaves Paris in the morning and returns mid-afternoon. Book online at www.LaValleeVillage.com.
It wouldn’t be a weekend in Paris without a trip to my favorite flea market, les Puces de Vanve (at the Porte de Vanves metro
stop in the 14th arrondissement).
This isn’t the big famous St-Ouen market; rather it’s a one-street stretch of
friendly vendors who sell garage-sale quality goods. It is also not as touristy
The legal main part of the market begins on avenue Georges Lafenestre, which
you’ll see as you exit the metro (Portes de Vanves), and winds to the right
where the illegal vendors sell less expensive goods.
I found an old alluminettes tin for my stove side matches, a small
painted metal tray and some buttons made of corozo which I’ll take to my tailor,
along with the soft wool I bought at the fabric market in Montmartre (Dreyfus, 2
rue Charles Nodier, at the corner of place St- Pierre).
Travel Insider note: If you’re
interested in fabric shopping in Paris, don’t miss Sarah’s BFF Suzy
exploring the Little Africa section of Paris for its fabulous print finds.
NEW KIDS IN TOWN
Ralph Lauren has
just opened his largest flagship store in Europe, a renovated mansion in the
heart of the Left Bank on boulevard Saint-Germain, where all RL collections are
displayed on three floors accessible by a grand staircase. The designer claims
this is his favorite store (the New York Rhinelander store is under renovation).
Book in advance for lunch at Ralph’s,
the polo-club chic restaurant located in the mansion’s former stables and
Don’t miss Suzy Gershman’s Paris Guide: Luxury Shopping & Hotels
Across the Seine, Italian handbag guru Furla recently
opened its largest store in France between the Madeleine and the Opera on
boulevard des Capucines, where the entire collection of bags, watches, eyewear,
jewelry, and shoes is on display.
The store was mobbed when I stopped by, but service was more than friendly and I
was given a replacement set of earphones for my iPod, with a “Bonne journee,
Madame, C’est gratuit.” (That’s free!)
It’s located on Rue Halevy, which is right alongside the Garnier Opera.
After making my rounds, I was happy to sink into bed at the Hotel Marignan, a charming hotel with a perfect
location— it’s just off the Champs Elysees at 12 rue de Marignan, and a
five-minute walk from the #1 and 9 lines at the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro.
Prices are still high all over Europe, but now that the dollar has gained some
strength, four- and five-star hotels are competing for business from U.S.
travelers. For this visit, I booked three nights online at a discounted price
and received the fourth night free with full American breakfast included.
By Sarah Lahey for PeterGreenberg.com. Join Sarah and her shopping BFF, Suzy
Gershman, on a shopping spree with the Born to Shop Japan tour, November 4-10,
2010, with an optional three-day add-on to Hong Kong. Visit www.SuzyGershman.com for
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