Les Soldes

Tomorrow morning, France will kick off it’s new year by ushering in the soldes.

As you may know, les Soldes in France are a pretty big deal. In short, they are countrywide, biannual sales on all unsold seasonal merchandise. The word soldes in French technically means ‘balances’ (as in a check balance or budget balance) but is used as les soldes (always with the les) to mean ‘sales’ in a shopping context. What’s quite exceptional about these French sales is that they are countrywide. France goes on sale.

They are a national sport. French women organize their vacation time in order to take off a few days at the beginning of the sales period to ensure they are the first ones to the counter.  I would be lying if I said I weren’t going to be the first person in line at Sandro on Wednesday…. I’ve been told that groups of friends go in to the stores of their choice in advance of the Soldes, try on the clothes they like and organize among themselves who will buy what. Each day one member of the group takes the collective list into one of the stores to purchase for the group during the first week before the merchandise is sold out.  Not sure I’m quite ready for that level of intensity yet.

Even though the Soldes last for five weeks twice a year, most of the shopping is done within the first week. A rather counter-intuitive process, if you think about it, as the prices are slashed progressively throughout the five-week Soldes period. Of course, by the time we arrive at the end of the sales, there is hardly anything left to buy at 60% or 75% off. I suppose the French women know what they are doing.

So, if you’re ready to take on the soldes madness, let me direct you to a few of the places that are bound to carry lots of winter favorites:

Boulevard Haussman et les grands magasins:

Boulevard Haussmann is a classic for Parisian shopping enthusiasts , and one of the best places to find deals. You will find many brands such that H & M, UNICLO , Mango ,  and Zara along Boulevard Haussman.  Also, lest we forget, the Boulevard Haussmann houses Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, two temples of fashion and undoubtedly two of France’s most famous department stores.

Luxury boutiques:

For boutiques, you have options aplenty:   You can head to Avenue des Champs Elysées or Avenue Montaigne where all the luxury brands have set up their flagship stores (Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Chanel etc). You need head no further than Place Vendôme and Rue Saint-Honoré to check out all the luxury labels, though I can’t guarantee their sales will make things much more affordable.  Peruse at your own peril…

Châtelet-les-Halles and rue de Rivoli:

Not only does this lively area house most major brands, but it is super central and easy to get to.  Plus, when you’ve done enough shopping or simply need a break, Chatelet has plenty of restaurant and movie options to give you a reprieve.  What I find nice about shopping in this area is that you inevitably pop into the Beaubourg Museum or Hotel de Ville to catch and expo.  This way you can justify your shopping via a cultural pit stop.

Le Marais:

For those looking for a more “boutique” or “bobo” shopping experience, the Marais is your one stop shopping haven.  You can’t miss all of the creative shops that dominate the 4th arrondissment: Zadig and Voltaire, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Maje, Sandro, Isabel Marant etc.  This can be a very pleasant shopping options if you’re looking to escape the madness of the department stores.   The plus to shopping here during the soldes is that these boutiques almost never have sales, so go find yourselves some semi-annual deals! Don’t forget about the department BHV, right by Hotel de Ville, for other fashionable bargains.


Where are you planning on doing your soldes shopping??

Vive les Soldes!


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