Shopping in Paris: favorite affordable brands - une femme d'un certain âge

My favorite (affordable) shops in Paris

Shopping in Paris: my favorite French stores and brands.

I always save room in my suitcase to do some shopping in Paris. Though many larger brands are now available globally and online, I like to shop for brands and styles I can’t find at home. Many of you have asked for suggestions for more affordable places to shop for fashion in Paris, so I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites.

With Paris being one of the (or THE) top fashion capitals of the world, you’ll find plenty of high end designer boutiques in most of the central arrondissements. But you don’t see many Parisians trotting around in head-to-toe designer outfits (or if they are, they’re subtle “stealth wealth” pieces). I’m sure most Parisiennes of more modest means have favorite one-off shops. But as a visitor I’ve sussed out a few accessible favorites of my own.

(While I realize everyone has their own definition of “affordable,” my frame of reference for the purpose of this post is prices comparable to US brands like J.Crew, Madewell, Talbot’s, Gap.)

Shopping in Paris: my favorite brands

Shopping in Paris: Comptoir des Cotonniers

Comptoir des Cotonniers

This is a chain, and you’ll find stores of various sizes all over Paris (and in other parts of France). I *always* make a point to visit while I’m here, and always find something that works for me. They have great simple casual basics in natural fibers. And they often have ” x% off” promotions.

CdC has a nice range of colors as well as good neutral basics. (They also have lots of blues at the moment, which I didn’t get a good photo of.) I’ve always found the sales associates to be cheerful and helpful. Sizing varies by item, but I find most to be generally true-to-size.

Caroll

Caroll is another chain with some great basics at reasonable prices. (Think Boden, but French.) They were a lifesaver when we were in Paris during a canicule (extreme heat wave) in 2019. I was able to find some linen trousers and tops that kept me (more) comfortable in the heat.

They have several shops in Paris, and also have periodic promotions.

Merci

Shopping in Paris: Merci

Merci is a unique “concept store” in the Marais, which sells not only clothing but gifts and housewares. Clothing styles skew Bohemian, and prices range from budget-friendly to “bridge.” Think Anthropologie, but with a wide range of brands.

It’s a fun space to browse through, and there’s a nice cafe if you get peckish.

It’s also a good place to find little unique gifts to bring home.

Monoprix

Clothing displays in Monoprix, Paris.

No, really! The larger Monoprix stores have quite a wide selection of clothing and accessories. If you need something in a pinch (and on a budget) they’re definitely worth checking out. (Le Monsieur bought a couple of Monoprix linen shirts on one of our earlier visits, which he wore for several years.)

I always pick up a few of their re-usable nylon shopping bags for gifts and to keep in the car.

EKYOG

If sustainability is important to you, you might want to check out EKYOG in the Marais (23 rue de Francs Bourgeois). This brand is centered in ethically and environmentally produced clothing that’s FUN. It’s a new discovery for me. I haven’t yet purchased anything, but was impressed with the collection.

Cecile & Jeanne

Cecile & Jeanne jewelry storefront.

I first discovered this French jewelry brand online a couple of years ago, and was finally able to shop in person. They have a lovely collection of pieces from delicate to bold. I really love their “earring parties,” earring styles that can be worn in multiple combinations. You can find many lovely pieces under 100 euros.

They have a few locations throughout Paris.

What I’m seeing in shops for spring

As I mentioned HERE, most of the shops are already stocked with spring/summer items. I’m seeing a LOT of color on the racks. Green, orange, coral red, lavender, and peach seem to be the colors most on trend, though you’ll always find a lot of blue as well (denim and soft blues).

Other trends I’ve noticed (at least in the shops):

  • longer, printed skirts
  • still a lot of relaxed fits and oversized cuts
  • lighter wash denim in relaxed fits
  • fruit and floral prints (but stripes too, always!)
  • lots of straw and raffia bags

It will be interesting to see as the weather warms up whether Parisians will take up more colorful wear. (The last time we were here in the summer, I did notice much more color being worn.)

More tips for shopping in Paris

Yes, the big department stores will have the most variety, but they can also be quite crowded. Best times to visit are mornings early in the week. My two favorite department stores are le Bon Marché in the 7th (a little more low-key) and BHV in the Marais (you’ll find just about everything here from clothing to luggage to kitchen gadgets).

Don’t forget to ask about Detaxe (tax-free) paperwork on any purchases totaling over 100 euros. If you live outside the EU you can get a refund on the VAT tax automatically included in what you pay. You’ll need to scan the form(s) they provide before you leave the EU.

You may find some new favorite shops just by strolling around and seeing what catches your eye in the windows. Prices for items in window displays will be posted, so you’ll know even before entering the shop what to expect.

Be sure to say “Bonjour (madame or monsieur)” when you enter a shop. In most shops, the sales staff will want to help you take things off racks or shelves, so ask before you pick something up or try it on. It’s perfectly OK to tell a sales associate “je veux y réfléchir,” (I want to think about it) if you’re not ready to make a purchase. (And we’ve found that most sales associates speak English, or enough of it to be able to answer questions.)

Happy shopping!

Stay in touch.

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26 Comments

  1. SS
    April 13, 2022 / 3:12 am

    This is great! Thanks so much!

  2. Eva Popovich
    April 13, 2022 / 4:21 am

    Thank you! That was a lovely little first-thing-in-the-morning shopping trip through Paris. When I was there it was on a tour and never even touched the shopping concept, sadly. It was my first trip to Europe. Maybe we will go back now, 30 years later, and I will take time to poke around “like the locals do.”
    We have been traveling other places too in the intervening years, and it’s fun to explore what the natives are wearing and buying, but PARIS… it’s the lodestar, isn’t it?

  3. Caroline
    April 13, 2022 / 5:20 am

    This is a great post! For me, it’s a lovely combination of some shops I already know and enjoy and some new ones I’m looking forward to exploring in the future. Thank you!

    The last time we were in Paris (2019) I was on the hunt for affordable costume jewelry and one line that particularly stood out to me was Satellite. There are several Satellite boutiques in Paris, and they are a feast for the eyes, full of beautiful, colorful, unique pieces in a variety of styles. Highly recommend checking it out! https://www.satelliteparis-boutique.com/

  4. Mary Clifford
    April 13, 2022 / 5:42 am

    Another great find is Renouard for leather goods. They are beautiful leather goods (handbags, shoes, ets.) that you are made in France and can only by in France. I usually make about one purchase every visit. Their handbags are beautiful and last for years! They have a larger boutique on Blvd Raspail in St. Germain. Nathalie has always helped me there over the years and she is lovely.

  5. Laura
    April 13, 2022 / 5:48 am

    I love Monop! Have bought some great scarves, leather gloves, sweaters and lingerie in them. Always a treat to look around the womens clothing section before shopping for groceries.

  6. Susan Kinoshita
    April 13, 2022 / 7:37 am

    Thank you Susan! We are off to Paris tomorrow with our daughter and her friend who love to shop!!
    Your post will be very helpful; how timely!!

  7. NDakTeacher
    April 13, 2022 / 8:06 am

    What a treat you’ve given us this morning! What would you say the color of the chore jacket and matching pants on the table in Monoprix are? Have you noticed this color in US offerings this spring? I am a winter and I think I could wear this color. I really like it combined with navy and love the dress under that jacket as well. I will likely never get to Paris, so I greatly enjoy your pictures and descriptions.. Many thanks for including us in your adventure. It seems you always “seize the day”!

    • MaryInMaryland
      April 13, 2022 / 9:36 am

      Winters have had a tough time with the color offerings in the past year or so, and spring and summer seem to be shaping up for a continued drought of winter colors. I try to look at it as an opportunity to save my pennies so that I can stock up when good shades for winters return.

  8. NancyF
    April 13, 2022 / 8:28 am

    Où sont les boutiques d’antan? Cecile et Jeanne used to have a lovely shop on Grant Avenue in San Francisco. Permanently closed. Comptoir des Cotonniers at one time had four shops in New York City. Gone. French shirtmaker Anne Fontaine, once well represented in the U.S.: gone. And I used to count on the British brand Jigsaw (two Bay Area stores that I knew of) for interesting, well-priced basics. The company pulled out of the U.S. before the pandemic.

    In some ways ours is a more globally connected world; in other ways we’re moving in the opposite direction.

  9. Sharon Payne
    April 13, 2022 / 8:39 am

    Thanks Susan, I’m heading to Paris in a few weeks and this is very helpful!

  10. Margi
    April 13, 2022 / 9:06 am

    What a morning treat to shop with you in Paris!
    Love all the pix of your visit. How is the apartment vs. hotel stay? Safe travels!!!

  11. SueF
    April 13, 2022 / 11:22 am

    Cannot wait to see what you buy and bring home! Also more info about your apartment rental. Saw your pics of the stairs…

  12. Julia
    April 13, 2022 / 2:13 pm

    Very interesting Susan! I love France too and find that the shops are lovely everywhere, outside Paris too. Even in an ordinary supermarket you can find something cute and stylish.

  13. Wendelah
    April 13, 2022 / 3:00 pm

    What a great resource you are.

    I love Monoprix. It rained nearly everyday our first trip to Paris and of course my spouse had refused to pack a raincoat. We got him an inexpensive but chic vinyl raincoat at Monoprix that he wore for years afterward. He’s 5’7″ but has a 29″ inseam. Buying pants off-the-rack anywhere but Monoprix has been a challenge. Everything they made fit him perfectly.

  14. Mary
    April 13, 2022 / 3:20 pm

    How nice to browse through the shops with you and get a feel for color, style, and texture. Thanks!

  15. Liz
    April 13, 2022 / 3:22 pm

    Thanks so much for the clothing store tips Susan. I get overwhelmed when shopping in cities with so much to offer. Any suggestions for men’s shops??.

  16. Jean
    April 13, 2022 / 6:54 pm

    I have a trench coat that I purchased at Monoprix five years ago and still love it. Thanks for this list.

  17. Nancy
    April 14, 2022 / 5:50 am

    Leaving on Monday. Thanks Susan.

  18. Nancy
    April 14, 2022 / 5:51 am

    Leaving on Monday. I would have never known NOT to touch clothing items. Thanks Susan.

  19. Marie
    April 14, 2022 / 8:38 am

    I’m French and you just made the list of stores I make a point to visit when I’m back home 🙂

  20. Marie- Thérèse
    April 14, 2022 / 11:43 am

    Just a little nuance … it is considered more polite to say ‘Je voudrais’ – ‘ I would like.
    …rather than ‘ je veux’ … ‘ I want’ … This is not a correction – yours is perfectly good French just sounds a little softer ..

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      April 15, 2022 / 3:51 am

      Thank you!

  21. eveange33
    April 14, 2022 / 12:27 pm

    As a french, I would also recommend to get a pick at Kookai, which is also a chain. It’s a bit trendier and younger than Comptoir des Cotonniers but still on the same range and rather good quality.
    For the people her which tend to be more classic, try Maison 1 2 3 which can be compared to Caroll or, for the even more classic, try Antonelle or Cyrillus.
    All of them are chains.
    Just do notice that among all of these brands, Caroll makes most of its clothes IN France: I know that people do not care but I do and it is important to notice

  22. Cindy Casani
    April 14, 2022 / 2:40 pm

    This is great! Going to Paris for the first time in July and staying in the Marais so will definitely check out some of these shops. Have to bring home something French!! Thanks Susan.

  23. Annick
    May 10, 2022 / 2:08 pm

    Every time I go “en province” and not Paris I have a great time shopping at Carrol they always have a great selection and prices are reasonable!

  24. Beth
    May 11, 2022 / 1:24 am

    About 10 years ago, I picked up 2 cashmere sweaters at Monoprix for 19€ each. A black turtleneck and a French Blue v-neck. They are stroll as nice as the day I purchased them and the blue is probably my all time favorite.

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