Millions of visitors flock to Paris every year for shopping. Not only do you get the most complete range of high fashion, most importantly, you get the benefit of a 12% VAT Tax Refund, and sometimes the benefit from the exchange rate too. A very important note to bring your passport along for shopping to get the tax refund procedure done.
The first shopping place we went to was the Galeries Lafayette. It was extremely crowded and we had to wait in a queue to get into quite a few stores, Channel, LV and even Longchamp. While these are the extremely famous brands, I also like some of the less well known local names like Lancel and Furla.
Since Printemps was just a block away, we curiously popped in. It was an entirely different atmosphere compared to Galerie Lafayette. It had a lot less people, maybe 80% less than La Fayette. It felt more snobbish, cold and the sales personnel were just standing around not doing much, chatting among themselves. No wonder Lafayette was getting all the customers !
We lingered there for about 15 minutes or so before heading back to Lafayette.
Do plan for lunch within the premises while you are shopping (at the cafe upstairs) because
1 It’s the easiest thing to do and you don’t have to scout around for restaurants outside
2 You are most likely to have gone crazy shopping and food is not important anymore it doesn’t matter where you eat (if you even need to eat at all) and
3 The Lafayette is like a black hole, sucking you (and your money) in, retaining you there and you are unable to leave the premises.
So why bother going out for lunch?
There’s various metro stations nearby Printemps and Lafayette, but I would suggest to go via the Opera Station. As you ascend from the steps of the Opera metro station, the stunning Palais Garnier is the first thing that comes into your eyes and even if you don’t go in for a tour, it is still worth it to check out this amazing piece of architecture. Lafayette is just behind the Palais Garnier, and Printemps is a block away from Lafayette.
There’s a few important things to note after you have happily done your shopping.
1. Do the VAT Tax refund procedure. Just ask the sales personnels and they will give you the necessary forms. In the case of Lafayette, the VAT tax refund department is on the basement floor. Go there with the forms, receipt & passport, they will do whatever is needed for you.
2. Before you travel back to your home country, go to the VAT tax refund counter at the airport (look for “Detaxe” sign). There are two queues, one is to get the tax refund in cash, and one is by credit card (if you paid via credit card). The queue at the cash counter is longer, but you get cash refunded to you. The queue at the credit card counter is shorter, faster, extremely useful if you are rushing for the flight, but you get the refund later (2-3 months). For the credit card refund, you will have to put all the necessary documents in the envelope provided and deposit it into the post-box nearby to be mailed out for processing.
3. Keep the items that you have bought in a carry-on luggage because the customs might want to see the items.
4. And lastly, enjoy your flight home!