Wednesday, 6 January 2016

2016 Parisian WINTER SALES

THE WINTER SALES ie "les soldes" will officially begin at 8am, Wednesday 6th January. So brace yourself for exactly 6 weeks of markdowns and price slashes throughout the month and up until Tuesday the 16th February 2016.

Major "soldes" are big thing in France because French laws tightly regulate when stores can and cannot heavily reduce their prices. I'm assuming it was put in place to protect businesses so that the big stores couldn't drive out the smaller ones with their power to discount whenever they wanted, all year round. This way, all stores are treated the same at least regarding the time frame they are allowed to be on sale, regardless of their capacity to slash their prices. 

According to French law, the Winter sales in January/February and the Summer sales in June/July are the only two periods stores are legally able to "go on sale" to clear stock, selling below cost price. Other special guidelines set out by the French commercial code include: stock must have been in store for at least a month before they go on sale (to avoid bringing in cheap stock to sell during the sales), sale and non-sale stock must be clearly marked and separated (to prevent misleading advertising) and, the original price must be visible to consumers. 

One thing for sure is that we can expect more competition between retailers during les soldes this Winter as they try and clear their stock after the sales slump that followed the November 13th Paris terrorist attacks.  

Department stores, stand alone stores, shopping centres, boutiques, outlets, e-commerce websites, everything you can think of across France will be on sale.

Here are some things to think about when gearing up for the sales:

* If it is an investment piece you've been eyeing, grab it early while there is stock left, and in your size

* If it is a day to day item that doesn't require sizing, hold off and wait until later, there will be further reductions after a few weeks

* Know your European sizing, there are going to be crowds everywhere and sales assistants won't necessarily have the time to help you convert your sizing

* French sizing and French children sizing in particular tend to be smaller than US/Australian sizing, keep that in mind when shopping for the little ones as they will grow out of your purchase even faster than usual!

* Choose your day and time appropriately, on the weekends will be ridiculous as everyone from the suburbs will venture into Paris, in the afternoons the stock might be all over the place - try during the week in the morning if possible when it is quieter, when stock has been replenished and neatly sorted to protect your sanity 

* Double check the return/exchange/credit policy before leaving the store, make sure it is in writing somewhere as sale items aren't necessarily treated in the same way as non-sale items, sometimes exchanges and refunds are only allowed after a certain sale period

* Claim your VAT (if this is applicable) - the saving is usually 12-15% but can be higher depending on the item. The minimum spend is normally 175€. Produce your passport, ask for the appropriate paperwork and arrive at the airport 1 hour early with the item you have purchased to finalise the refund

* If you are purchasing higher priced items, check if stores offer any further discounts - I know at BHV Marais, I was given a 10% discount on the spot just for flashing my Australian passport, no VAT forms nor waiting period required!

* It sounds obvious but make sure you bring snacks, dress lightly and know where the short lines will be for the toilets (eg men's department toilet lines are always shorter than in the women's department) and, also which toilets are free and which aren't (I'm talking to you Printemps 1.50€/toilet visit vs Galeries Lafayette 0.00€/toilet visit!)

* Charge your smartphone and pop that portable charger in your handbag, you'll need something to do while waiting in those lines ;)

* Enjoy yourself and happy bargain hunting..! 

PS I've just put together a list of major department stores, shopping centres and outlet shopping centres for this post - I'm working on other shopping posts that will cover boutiques, outlet stores, 'consignment' stores and markets/vintage shopping

Department Stores

(3 buildings)
40 boulevard Haussmann 75009
Métro Chaussée d'Antin / Opéra 
RER Auber

64 boulevard Haussmann 75009
Métro Chaussée d'Antin / Opéra 
RER Auber

24 rue de Sèvres 75007
Métro Sevres-Babylone

52-56 rue de Rivoli 75004
55 rue de la Verrerie 75004
Métro Hôtel de Ville
RER Châtelet-les-Halles

Shopping Centres

BEAUGRENELLE (98 stores) 
(3 buildings)
12 rue Linois 75015
Métro Bir-Hakeim, Charles Michel ou Javel
RER Javel

BERCY VILLAGE (35 stores/restaurants)
28 rue François Truffaut 75012
Métro Cour Saint-Émilion

CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE (38 stores/restaurants)
99 Rue de Rivoli 75001
Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre

FORUM DES HALLES (120 stores)
105 rue Berger 75001
Métro Les Halles / Châtelet 

ITALIE DEUX (130 stores/restaurants)
30 avenue d'Italie 75013
Métro Place d'Italie 

PASSAGE DU HAVRE (40 stores)
109 rue Saint-Lazare 75009
Métro Saint-Lazare

PASSY PLAZA (28 stores)
53 rue de Passy 75016
Métro Passy 

1 Cour de Rome 75008
Métro Saint-Lazare

Outlet Shopping Centres

LA VALLÉE VILLAGE (120 stores)
3 cours de la Garonne
77700 Serris
RER Val-d'Europe

* A6 (72 stores)
2 rue Jean Cocteau
91100 Corbeil Essonnes
RER Essonnes Robinson
* L'Île Saint-Denis (77 stores)
9 quai du Châtelier
93450 L'Île Saint-Denis
Métro Carrefour Pleyel  

QUAI DES MARQUES (95 stores)
395 rue de Général Leclerc
95130 Franconville
RER Franconville Le-Plessis-Bouchard

ONE NATION PARIS (140 stores)
1 avenue Président Kennedy
78340 Les Clayes-sous-Bois
SNCF Villepreux les Clayes


  1. Great article. Some very useful tips.

    1. Thanks VK! Enjoy the sales, I'm off to check out some of the outlets now :)

  2. thanks for the info! but about the 'LA VALLÉE VILLAGE', do you think it is best to visit via the RER or with a car? i'm just wondering if the parking is a nightmare there or not. thanks :)

    1. My pleasure! There should be enough (free) parking there normally, however depending on the day/sale period it might be harder (I went to Marques Avenue this weekend and parking that was normally sufficient was a little ridiculous - we ended up parking on the street and walking to the car park). Personally I would try with a car, as the hassle you go through at the beginning pays off at the end when you are tired!

  3. From the summer soldes, I've learned the hard way that I should dress lightly and bring some water, haha.

    1. Haha, yes - but not too much water, just enough to prevent dehydration, too much and I would need to search for a loo!

  4. Hi Nhan , are there any summer sales at the outlet malls currently? From reviews that I hv read online it seems like the outlet malls don't offer great price reductions, unless on it worth going so far just to shop at the outlets?

    1. Hi there Jaya,
      Sorry for the delay in reply! Unfortunately France has very strict rules about sales - they are only allowed to have two big sales in January (post Christmas) and then in June (I think it starts 24th of June this year).
      Not sure if you'll be in Paris then to make a trip there? Outlet shopping really depends on your time. Sometimes I go and I will find a good bargain, other times it's not worth the trek out. It can be a bit hit and miss but you can allocate 2 hours there and see for yourself. If you get up early and be there as soon as the shops open then it shouldn't eat into too much of your time!

  5. You know what I love?
    The fact that you put in the nearest metro station... such minor details but that which makes life so much easier! x P