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Where to Shop in Paris 2021: La Samaritaine & Concept Shopping

Here are a few of my favorite shopping discoveries in Paris, from my latest trip, just as France was re-opening to American travelers.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning safe, responsible and meaningful travels to Paris and other destinations—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the hotels and experiences that are right for you and provide information on travel safety policies and more.

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La Samaritaine

There were literally old-fashioned “crieurs” in the streets, shouting the news that La Samaritaine had reopened when the legendary department store finally opened its doors after a multi-year restoration on June 23, 2021. Of course, there were also lines to get in to see if the restoration and product mix inside was just as gorgeous as the gleaming Art Nouveau facade. Founded in 1870, the legendary department store La Samaritaine has long been an iconic institution on the Right Bank. With influences of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods in its fanciful facades, its famous glass cupola and iron staircases, the department store has been closed since 2005. New owner, LVMH, which also owns the Left Bank temple of fashion Le Bon Marché, has spent years restoring La Samaritaine. Not surprisingly, it is now filled with luxury brands from the LVMH stable like Fendi, Dior and Vuitton, but they have also added innovations like geothermal air conditioning and pop-up attractions including a Par Coeur (by heart) atelier where you can have a pendant personalized with hand-stamping and a Makeup Bar, where makeup artists give master classes three times a day on Fridays and Saturdays.

The historic section of the shopping building houses luxury labels and the fifth floor, with cafés and restaurants, as well as a video of the Seine—to pay homage to the view seized by the La Samaritaine building that now houses the Cheval Blanc hotel (see Where to Stay in Paris, the Loire Valley and Normandy in 2021). While the new modern structure fronting the Rue de Rivoli is a concept store devoted to street fashion, sporting clothes and new designers. Among the many other new elements: a Perrotin store from art dealer extraordinaire Emmanuel Perrotin with art books and Murakami and other contemporary artist inspired items. Already people are saying that La Samaritaine could be called the smallest of the big department stores or the largest of its concept stores. With 600 brands under one roof, it is certainly a temple to French fashion and l’art de vivre.  

Related: Shopping with a Teen in Paris

Concept Shops

While many think that the Concept shop, a universe of many brands in an artistic incubator type of space, began with Elcaireur or Colette, in Paris, it was actually British designer Mary Quant who founded the first concept shop in London in the 1960s. Terence Conran masterminded the look. And though beloved Colette has closed and is now occupied by a Dior shop, La Samaritaine is not the only place to explore the concept of the concept shop in Paris. 

The other two hot spots for sourcing creative inspiration and avant-garde designers in a cool atmosphere are Kith and Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées. Yes, one is the brand founded by Ronnie Fieg, and the other is also a Parisian department store brand, but both have landed in the heart of the “Golden Triangle” of fashion and are stirring up the staid fashion district. 

Related: Where to Stay in Paris, the Loire Valley and Normandy in 2021

Kith, which occupies the former Pershing Hall and American Legation building, has been called the ultimate temple for streetwear and sneakerheads. In a grand townhouse with a courtyard occupied by a buzzy dining spot are salons devoted to sneakers, streetwear, vintage vinyl records and cool art objects. The bouncer at the door and the hip music lends a nightclub vibe to the shopping mecca all day long. This is where the cool kids hang out, shop and influence others. 49 Rue Pierre Charon, 8th arrondissement

Just down the street on the slowly gentrifying Champs-Elysées, is Galeries Lafayette’s take on the concept store, a multiplex devoted to French up-and-coming brands and hard-to-find items from better known labels. Again, the atmosphere is hyper-cool and edgy. This is not your grandmother’s department store—so fun to browse even for the displays—but you are likely to find something you cannot live without from a brand your friends have never heard of. That is the secret to a concept shop. 60 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 8th arrondissement

Related: Must-Visit Paris Museums: The Best Paris Museum Shows to See in 2021

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning safe, responsible and meaningful travels to Paris and other destinations—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the hotels and experiences that are right for you and provide information on travel safety policies and more.

– Melissa Biggs Bradley on June 25, 2021

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