Twice a year the Parisian streets fill with a frenzy of shoppers looking to update their wardrobes with the latest fashion trends. This nationwide state-regulated event, otherwise known as les soldes (the sales), occurs over six weeks in winter (January/February) and summer (June/July). Unlike in the US or UK, shops in France seldom offer sales, which is why the soldes become a much anticipated affair.
Today begin the soldes d’hiver, earlier than usual, but with the same promise of scoring a deal. Most boutiques and department stores offer discounts of 50% from the start. As the weeks continue, prices dwindle but so too does the available stock. Near the end of the six week sale period, you will certainly discover the best bargains, if you’re lucky enough to find your size.
As a seasoned soldes shopper, what are my tips for navigating the sales most efficiently? Walk, don’t run to your favorite boutique or fashion house (I like French brands Isabel Marant and Barbara Bui), and stay focused on what you are in search of, as the sheer amount of clothing and accessories can become overwhelming. I recommend shopping during the second and third weeks of the soldes, when there is still plenty left in all sizes, and the atmosphere is more relaxed.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, keep your eyes open for that unexpected gem, you’ll be surprised by what you do find! If you’re planning to make a day of it, the most fashionable, boutique-packed neighborhoods are Le Marais or Saint-Germain. You can also head directly to Galeries Lafayette or Printemps for the best selection (and return policies). One last tip to keep in mind: less is more; shop quality not quantity. Classic timeless pieces will last for many soldes to come.
Lead photo credit : The semi-annual sales in Paris. Photo: Kasia Dietz
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