Shopping in France

France is renowned for its luxury goods, particularly haute couture, high-quality clothing accessories (eg Herm?s scarves), lingerie, perfume and cosmetics. Such goods may not be any cheaper here than at home.

Sale periods (soldes) ? held for three weeks in January and July ? can be a gold mine for fashion finds. The fashion- and budget-conscious should also look out for the words degriff?s (cut price; usually the labels have been cut out) or d?p?t-vente (ex-showroom garments sold at steep mark-downs).

For local crafts and art it?s best to go directly to the source. In Brittany, look for colourful Quimper fa?ence and in Normandy pick up unique Rouen fa?ence or some intricate lace from Alen?on. Other good buys include crystal and glassware from Baccarat in southern Lorraine or enamel and porcelain from Limoges in Limousin.

Even though wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne are available everywhere, you?ll get a better selection in a local wine shop. Local brandies make good souvenirs since they may not be available in your home country, such as cognacs (from Cognac!) and Calvados, Pommeau or F?camp B?n?dictine (from Normandy). Corsicans sell unusual liqueurs in local markets and Charentes is the place to pick up Pineau de Charentes.

Goodies that travel well include macaroons from St-?milion, calissons from Aix-en-Provence and candied fruit from Nice.

Non-EU residents can get a rebate of some of the 19.6% value-added tax (VAT) for large purchases, including when several different purchases are made in the one department store. There are forms to fill out in-store which must be shown, with the purchases, upon departure.

From Lonely Planet?s new guide to France

6th edition
ISBN 1 74059 923 3
964 pages, 24 pages colour, 202 maps
A$ 40.90

Born to Shop
If you’re looking for a comprehensive shopping guide, Frommers also have a variety of books, in particular are Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop Paris, and Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop France. Although I have never shopped in France, I have shopped in New York and found her guide helpful and informative. She covers all the areas in Paris plus looks from the other perspective of where to find a certain product. If you’re a shopaholic but don’t know where to start, these books are a must!
Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop France: RRP $26.95 but only $24.26 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop
Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop Paris: RRP $26.95 but only $24.26 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop