Paris in August: To Shop or Not to Shop?

I’d intended to warn all you savvy shoppers that August is NOT the month to come to Paris.  It’s the time traditionally when the city shuts down and Parisians head for the country for the entire month.  When we started our Paris life, this was one of the things that took most getting used to.  How could merchants afford to simply close down and post a note on their door that they were on vacation, sometimes with the charming explanation “in honor of August.” In August Paris seems more like a village than a city and for this reason, the intent of this message was going to be “Don’t come to Paris in August if you want to shop.”

However, after thinking more carefully and savoring the pleasures, there are  good reasons to come in August.  The trick is to plan to avoid disappointments and know how to enjoy the advantages.  It’s true that the smaller shops are likely to be shuttered and closed.  The intimate little boutiques are best left for another time.  But, fabulous shopping is still available in the grand magazines and selected shops.  My own favorite, Le Bon Marche, is as chic as ever BUT without the crowds and Reciproque, a destination for vintage clothing and accessories is open for business.  The distinctly Parisian tearooms so beloved by tired shoppers have tables ready with no waiting lines.  That’s the beauty of August shopping, no jostling competition.  You can roam crowd-free and enjoy undivided attention from attendants eager to help you find whatever you are looking for.  There are even some items still held over from the summer sales.  For example, a French friend going off for her mid August Club Med vacation told me she just bought a bathing suit for 7 euros.

Coupled with the freedom of crowd-free shopping, is the added ease of transportation. Public transportation in Paris is always a marvel of convenience, and it’s understandably popular with Parisians, which means metros and buses are usually bustling with travelers.  Not so in August.  Metro seats are aplenty and the roomy comfortable buses are a treat.  I even saw a long line of taxis waiting patiently at our neighborhood taxi stand for customers  — not a sight at any other time of year.

A Caveat:  Although the larger stores remain open as usual, some keep summer hours and because most smaller shops will be closed, it’s best to check to avoid inconvenience.  On our I Know A Little Place app you can dial the store directly from its page and schedule your shopping trip accordingly.  Once you know how to plan, don’t deny yourself Paris at any time.

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