9 Must-Shop Paris Fashion Stores

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blouse bought in Paris is infinitely preferable to one purchased anywhere else in the world. (Though, if we’re being completely honest, the same could be said of a baguette and a French martini. What can we say? Parisians do everything better.) It follows suit, then, that no trip to the City of Light is complete without a jaunt through some of its most iconic fashion houses. After all, it was here that the world’s first department store opened in 1852, and it’s here that continues to set the standard for both covetable couture and inspired architectural design. Whether you’re the shop-till-you-drop type or an expert window browser, we’ve rounded up nine of the city’s best fashion destinations, from zeitgeist-capturing boutiques to legendary maisons. Read on for the best of the best.

Arguably Paris’s most famous independent boutique and exhibition space since it opened its doors in 1997, Colette is both a pint-size department store and a cutting-edge idea lab. In the heart of the 1st arrondissement, the three-story, one-stop concept shop carries an eclectic mix, from underground magazines and cult-favorite beauty brands (hello, Le Labo) to avant-garde toys and furniture, plus exclusive collaborations with the fashion industry’s biggest names and most-promising upstarts. Even the eau is designer, with more than 35 varieties available at Colette’s restaurant and water bar on the lower level.

Stepping through the front door at Lydia Courteille’s petite shop on rue Saint-Honoré is a bit like going through the looking glass. The flamboyant jeweler’s namesake gallery offers unique gem-encrusted trinkets that are as meticulously crafted as they are over-the-top, all arranged cabinet-of-curiosities-style in the designer’s moody showroom. Whimsical window displays rotate between collections—and reflect such wildly varied influences as Russian empress Catherine II and creatures of the sea.

From the outside, the 1930s-era Faubourg Saint-Honoré flagship of Hermès is a stately grand dame that seems untouched by the passage of time. Inside, however, the Paris-based design firm RDAI has recast the former municipal swimming pool building as a modern shopping mecca, with three wood-lattice structures creating a futuristic backdrop for the storied brand’s fashion, home, and accessories collections. A mosaic-tiled stairway leads up to a 30-seat café called Le Plongeoir, which resides on the site of the property’s old diving board.

On the ground floor of a 19th-century hôtel particulier, Marie-Hélène de Taillac’s intimate Paris outpost is as bright and lustrous as the coveted baubles she creates. Designed by Tom Dixon, the high-contrast space echoes the brand’s signature blue-and-red color scheme and is bathed in natural light. Mirrored surfaces and metallic fixtures help evoke a modern jewel-box effect.

The world’s oldest department store is a Left Bank institution in every sense—a notion proved by the throngs (read: 15,000 customers per day) of international tourists and locals alike. But don’t let the crowds deter you. Designed by architect Louis-Charles Boileau and the engineer Gustave Eiffel himself in 1852, the 323,000-square-foot Le Bon Marché is like a glass-and-stone menagerie of style, housing everything from haute couture by the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton to the gastronomic delicacies that are stocked in sister grocery La Grande Epicerie de Paris.

It’s hard to imagine who might appreciate Sonia Rykiel’s Left Bank showroom on Boulevard Saint-Germain more: book lovers or fashion connoisseurs. As part of a pop-up concept conceived by designer Julie de Libran, publisher Thomas Lenthal, and artist Andre Saraïva, some 50,000 tomes line natural-hued wood shelves, the rusticity of which counters the bold red lacquered walls that serve as a backdrop to Rykiel’s urban-chic wardrobe staples. Overhead, a massive steel-and-glass atrium casts a flattering glow throughout the space.