When you read articles about where to shop in Paris, they tend to focus on the admittedly fabulous fashion available in the city or other luxury treats. Instead, having called Paris home for 6 years, I want to offer you a selection of shops or markets that tick all the boxes of your daily needs and wants when in Paris.
I have listed a few of my favorites places to go for anything from daily fresh food to gorgeous flowers and from presents and souvenirs to books and special treats. Some of the names of shops you might recognize, others you won’t ever come across if you are just visiting for a brief interlude. All are special to me, and, I hope, will give you the inspiration to go shopping or browsing for both daily necessities as well as decadent little treats.
The list will take you across several arrondissements, mentioned just behind the name of the individual places, and I have also added the nearest metro stop.
Enjoy shopping like a local in Paris.
1. Marché Rue Poncelet, 17th, Metro Ternes
There are so many markets in Paris that it is difficult to commit to a favorite, but this one on Rue Poncelet is small, very local, and steps away from my home, so it is an obvious frontrunner. No, it does not have the length of the Grenelle Market that runs along below metro line 6, nor does it have the variety of the Marché d’Aligre in the 12th, but what it does have is a purely local clientele and a couple of great cafes where to sit back and watch the goings-on. You’ll see the normally restless Parisians queue patiently for their Sunday roast chicken and take forever discussing the ripeness of a particular cheese. Then they all grab their baguette, their chicken, and their fresh flowers, and sit down at Café Dada on the corner of Rue Poncelet and Avenue des Terne for a chilled glass of wine. It is pure Paris, and a great local, non-touristy experience.
Pro Tip: All markets in France are open daily from 7 a.m. to around 2 p.m., but are closed on Mondays.
2. La Grande Epicerié, 7th, Metro Sevre-Balylone
Even with all the great markets and multicultural stores around Paris, sometimes you just want a treat you remember from back home or found abroad when traveling. La Grande Epicerie within the stylish department store Le Bon Marche is a treat for all the senses and not only takes food shopping to another level with its stunning displays, it also has food items from around the globe that you might not find in your local Monoprix. I envy everybody who can afford to do their weekly shop in this place, as everything is enormously overpriced, but you pay for the locations and atmosphere and simple enjoyment of being there, as much as the very high quality of the produce.
Pro Tip: Grab a homemade sandwich from the cooler section and eat it in the lovely little Jardin Catherine-Labouré just down the road.
3. Deschamps, 17th, Metro Pereire
As with markets, flower shops can be found at every corner in Paris. So, why this one? Deschamps, the name a combination of des and champs, or “from the fields,” is the flower shop that sustained me during the pandemic lockdown in Paris with its endless color, cheerfulness, and aromatic blooms. I cannot possibly tell you how much money I spent there on peonies and later sunflowers alone. I went at least once a week to fill up my apartment, and its status as essential shopping tells you something about the French joie de vivre.
Pro Tip: Another gorgeous shop, more widely distributed throughout Paris is the chain Au nom de la rose which always strews its displays with beautiful rose petals.
4. Librairie De Centre Pompidou, 4th, Metro Rambuteau
When it comes to finding unusual presents or perfect coffee table art books, museum shops are hard to beat. Within the Centre Pompidou are two stores which cover all your needs, and you don’t even need to buy a ticket to any of the exhibits — even though that would be a great idea while you’re there. As you enter, on your left is the museum store with quirky items ranging from notebooks to fridge magnets, but not run-of-the-mill in the slightest, while on the right lies a cavernous bookstore that specializes in art, architecture, and design books covering artists from around the globe. You can browse forever.
Pro Tip: Head upstairs for coffee or, even better, lunch at Georges, which serves up the best views in tout Paris. Again, no ticket is necessary.
5. Abbey Bookstore, 5th, Metro Saint-Michel
I am an avid reader, to say the least. In fact, my husband keeps bemoaning the fact that according to him, 80 percent of our possessions are books. It can be a costly habit when you live abroad, and foreign-language books cost more than local language tomes. So, it was lucky that I discovered the second-hand English-language bookstore Abbey Books, run by Canadian Brian Spence, whose shop is crammed full of everything you could possibly wish to read. And he offers you a coffee while you browse.
Pro Tip: Abbey Bookstore is a block or two behind the fabulous Shakespeare & Co., which is so overrun with tourists that you have to queue to get in the door. So, if you are not after sightseeing, but rather something to read, this is a much easier and cheaper option.
6. Marché Aux Puces De Porte De Vanves, 14th, Metro Vanves
Everybody knows the Puces de St-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt, and it is a great flea market. Only it’s not really a flea market. While it is fun to meander through, the chances of finding a bargain are slim to impossible. Instead, head south to the opposite end of Paris to the market at Porte de Vanves. Every Saturday and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., all kinds of vendors line the Avenue Marc Sangier and sell you anything from furniture to old dolls, from Hermes scarves to mahjong sets. Here, there are no professional setups, only tabletops, and you can bargain to your heart’s content. I dare you to walk away without something. I have not managed it even once.
Pro Tip: Just a couple of hundred yards down the road, at Parc George Brassens, you will not only find a vineyard, but also the best antique book and map market in Paris.
7. Theatre Booth, 17th, Metro Ternes
Trying to find theater or ballet, or indeed any other performance tickets in Paris when you did not plan ahead, can be near impossible. But there is hope. For short notice — and often discounted — last-minute tickets, pop to the Kiosque Theatre Ternes. This tiny kiosk, open Tuesday to Saturday between 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., does not guarantee you tickets, but knows about the day’s cancellations and increases your chances dramatically.
Pro Tip: There is another booth at Madeleine which might be handier if you are staying centrally.
8. Aux Merveilleux De Fred, 16th, Metro La Muette
Do you like sweet things? Then look no further than Aux Merveilleux in the gorgeous neighborhood of Passy. French for “to the wonderful,” this tiny little pâtissier is decked out with a sparkling chandelier and a simple worktop where the bakers create confections, plus a small display. It doesn’t need anything else, because the display empties as quickly, or even more quickly than they can replenish it. Imagine a cloud covered in sweet fluffy meringue, a subtle hint of additional flavor, and a puff of deliciousness that makes you roll your eyes, gasp with pleasure and head straight back to buy more. Truly, forget macarons or profiteroles; this is a delight, and not many non-locals know about it.
Pro Tip: This is a chain, and you can find a few more stores around Paris and France, but don’t miss a stroll around Passy with its markets and gorgeous shops, plus the superb Musee Marmottan Monet nearby.
9. Lavrut, 2nd, Metro Quatre Septembre
I don’t know about you, but I adore stationery and art supplies. And I don’t even do art. But I could look at colored pencils, at feathery paintbrushes, at beautiful notebooks and colored ink-pen ink forever. Add a few beautiful greeting cards, desktop utensils, interesting paper, and leather items, and Lavrut in the gorgeous, covered Passage Choiseul in the heart of Paris is perfect for an afternoon well spent. This store is simply a pleasure to be in, so whenever I can find an excuse, I am in the lovely passage and in that shop, just browsing. Or so I tell myself.
Pro Tip: For another quirky shop in another gorgeous passage, head to Au Materiel de Collections, in the Passage des Panoramas. If you are a collector at heart, you will find countless sheets and albums for all sorts of collections. I have an album for the metal disks on top of champagne corks, called capsules, from there. Very useful indeed.
I could go on endlessly, telling you about my favorite little shopping places in Paris. Alas, I have run out of space. My apologies. Bon shopping!