As one of the first established fashion capitals of the world, we cannot go about saying, "Paris" without associating it to la mode.
The beauty of shopping in Paris is partially due to its uniqueness---each shopping districts brings something different to the table so that there's something for everyone;
the prim and polished man or woman,
the more laid back, casually dressed individuals,
and even those who march to their own drum in tattered sneakers and neon T-shirts.
There is an essential harmony of high fashion designers, widely-known chain stores and one-hit wonder vintage items.
The Marais is by far one of the most treasured shopping districts in Paris. Although the Champs-Elysees and Galeries Lafayette seem to dominate the retail world in Paris, I find them to be on the tourist side, with far too much bustle.
Not only does the Marais have it's share of high-end designer brands, but vintage reigns supreme here along with concept stores and boutiques that play elegantly with Parisian/French identity.
For those who are familiar with consignment stores, this is the place! Although it does take some time to rummage around cluttered boutiques, once you find that pearl in the mud, you'll have a lifelong fashion item purchased at a satisfying price!
To top it off, the Marais is filled with fashionable patisseries, vintage bars, vintage photography galleries and a fair number of both rustic and contemporary libraries.
Just a little ways down from the Marais is yet another famous street, more commonly known for hosting more internationally popular brands such as Zara, Mango, and Sephora.
Although Rivoli is more so a commercialized shopping arena than the nooks and crannies of the Marais, it's placed right next to the historical Hôtel de Ville, filled with a vibrant shopaholic atmosphere, sans (without) the bustle.
After shopping here, you can settle down in one of the many cafés in the district for a delicious, chatter-filled evening.
All in all, the key aspect that places the Parisian shopping experience on the map is not merely the variety or quality of the retail stores, but rather the quality of it's stylish inhabitants----l'esprit de Paris (the spirit of Paris).
Parisians not only take into account the practicality of clothing but they also take the aesthetic value to another level. In a city that has seen fashion since the 16th century within such a close range, the perspective on clothing veers dangerously close to artwork-------and this is something one can look upon as bizarre, or take as it is and let it inspire them in the same subtle ways it has already inspired Parisians.
Monica Park is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Paris. She is currently a senior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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