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Window Shopping Parisian Style

MyFrenchLife™ - Window shoppingNormally I’m not too keen on window shopping. If I’m not actually buying, then I can’t get excited about the goods – it makes me irritable (to put it politely). But the same rule doesn’t apply in Paris where window shopping is a national pastime.

My introduction to this phenomenon was on a warm spring day on the Champs Elysées. There were so many people gathered that we thought there must be a parade or some sort of demonstration happening. But no, it was just a staggering amount of window shoppers strolling the Avenue and checking out what was new.

Window shopping at its best

Following the crowd, we quickly discovered the attraction although I wasn’t even tempted to buy the new model of Mercedes that everyone was gawking at. We continued our window shopping on the Right Bank until our eyes were beyond being dazzled. All the major designers, jewellers, high end… everything!

MyfrenchLife™ - window shopping

For those of us not in the market for a luxury car, monogrammed Vuitton luggage or a handful of diamonds, the Left Bank offers spectacular window displays. Some stores in Paris are so tiny that you have to wonder how they manage. However, Parisians turn maximizing every square centimeter into an art form.

The window displays are so well integrated into the store’s available space that if you don’t see what you want from the street, save everyone a lot of bother and don’t go in. The French translation for window shopping is lèche-vitrine, to ‘lick the windows’. Very appropriate seeing as everything looks good enough to eat.

6831646794_f18b801e1c_oIf it was only Chanel, Givenchy and the high-end shops I’d understand the elegance and creativity you see from the street. They can, after all, afford to hire the best.

But as I watched the owner of a patisserie put freshly baked goods in the window, I realized what talent she had in making everything look so appealing and artistic. A touch here, a touch there, and voila… irrésistible. It’s the same no matter what the shop is selling.  How can we resist such originality?

All the displays that make me want to a) smile, b) eat, and c) stay in Paris forever, are exactly what makes window shopping in Paris such a treat.

What do you think about window shopping? Do you do it often? Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below!

All images courtesy of © Susan Ross Donohue

Join the conversation


  1. Virginia Jones
    11 years ago

    I agree! Parisians have a flair for the most incredible windows be they large or small. I never tire of looking and photographing them.
    I so enjoyed your article.

  2. Valentine Camus
    11 years ago

    I agree Parisians sellers are very talented when it comes to their windows! Especially for clothes I think, at Champs-Elysées they are often arranged in a poetic way… I really like the first picture of your article by the way, it draws the attention (I’m not sure I could afford or even wear such a dress, but it nonetheless makes me dream!).

  3. Susan Ross Donohue
    11 years ago

    Hello Virginia and Valentine,
    Nice to know others appreciate window shopping too especially when the windows are in Paris!

  4. rfewen
    10 years ago

    Susan: I enjoyed reading your article about the windows of Paris. When I mention to fellow travelers the window displays, they all marvel at the beauty and sophistication. You may enjoy seeing the watercolors I have painted of Paris windows on mty web site: I have one painting which is of the the store window in Repetto, where they sell ballet equipment. It has two tutus in it. Your photo may be one of those stores. My painting was taken from the one in the 6th e.
    I just showed several during February in the SOTA Gallery in Hong Kong
    Richard Ewen

  5. Susan Ross Donohue
    10 years ago

    Richard – your watercolors are absolutely beautiful! Looking at the pieces I feel like I’m in Paris because the details are so true – you’ve totally captured not only the images but the feeling of the city. The Repetto in the photograph is on rue de la Paix (if I remember correctly) but I supposed they’re all similar. Thanks for sharing your artwork. I’ll be visiting your site often. Congratulations!