By Stephanie Rivoal, courtesy Paris Tourist Office
Published April 01, 2014
When you shop at home or anywhere in the United States, you’re swimming in a specific pool. Many international products, designers and handicrafts are hard to find or priced with a significant markup due to importation. When you travel abroad, however, you open up a world of shopping opportunities that you’ll never find at home
Whether you’re looking for up-and-coming designs, high fashion or handmade goods, the best way to shop is always to go to the source, and that’s no truer in the case of these top international shopping destinations.
Shopping opportunities in Paris need no introduction — the city has spawned internationally renowned designers for hundreds of years — but in such a spread-out style capital, it’s hard to know where to start.
While department stores in France still have the connotation of a place to find pretty much anything you might need, in typical Parisian fashion, they are so much more. The two main “grands magasins,” Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, live up to their “grands” moniker (although in French, it just means large), with resplendent Art Nouveau architecture worth its own tour.
For boutique shopping, several different neighborhoods in central Paris cater to different style nuances as well as diverse budgets. The Marais, a charming area for a stroll even without shopping, is the place to find both independent and major label French designs hidden among narrow medieval streets. Across the river, St-Germain-des-Prés is the high-fashion piece de resistance, taking over from historic Right Bank High Street.
But Paris is not only a place to find fashion for your body — it excels at style for your home. Antique-buyers from around the world rummage through the stalls and brick-and-mortar stores of Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which means “flea market.”
In the last 10 years, Dubai has become known worldwide for its extravagant style, and with a local public that demands elegance and quality at every turn, Dubai’s shopping opportunities have flourished with the changing tastes.
What differentiates the Dubai shopping experience is not just the designers, but also the presentation. In a desert climate, the air-conditioned malls become the town square, albeit a marble-coated one. The indoor ski course, along with a portfolio of the world’s top luxury brands, all squeeze comfortably into the Mall of the Emirates, the ne plus ultra of Dubai shopping.
Outside the malls, Dubai’s historic “souqs” still trade in luxury goods, but the kind for which the historic port has been known for generations. The aptly named Gold Souq is so replete with gold jewelry that it blurs into a wall of gold after a while, and the Textile Souq is draped with bolt after bolt of luxurious silk from around the world.
In the winter, when Dubai weather is mild, warm enough to recover from the chilly United States but cool in the evening, the Dubai Shopping Festival kicks things up a notch with deep discounts, street food fairs and fireworks each night.