Where to find those perfect shoe stores? Here’s a summary of the top things you must know before commencing your search for the perfect shoes in France – and particularly in Paris.
Firstly, there are two quartiers where shoe addicts can make their dreams come true in Paris. It’s a good idea to think about this beforehand…
- It depends on whether you want to be extremely efficient and see major brands at a glance
- Or if you’d rather take the time to wander in a pleasant neighborhood and have a few more hours to spare
Buying shoes in Paris: a how-to guide
For the traveler (or local!) in a hurry, the basement of ‘Les Galeries Lafayettes – Opéra’ is the place to visit, with a whole array of major brands on display. It’s an excellent way to get to know what’s in fashion and available for the current season.
However, they only have a limited selection of shoes (not the whole collection), mainly aimed at tourists. And besides, it may be crowded. Further, the sale assistants can be of the utmost French unpleasantness.
I often consider it an interesting stage in the search for the perfect shoes, but in general, I prefer to buy them in the ‘own brand’ shoe store.
When I’m in the mood to wander in search of the perfect shoe, I go to Saint-Germain-des Près. The area tucked between the famous square and Montparnasse is where you’ll find almost all the brands with their own dedicated branded stores.
Make sure to walk all the way up rue de Rennes and explore the surrounding streets – from rue Bonaparte and rue Saint-Sulpice on the left side, to rue Saint-Placide, Place Michel Debré, and rue du Cherche Midi to name a few on the right.
A brief history of shoe-making in France
Everyone agrees with this statement, sad though it may be:
Shoe-making in France is not what it used to be!
Globalization and cheaper manufacturing markets (mainly China) have put an end to a once glorious 150-year-old craft.
Many brands, which were very popular in the 80s and 90s, had stores all over the world.
Do you remember Charles Jourdan, Stéphane Kelian or Charles Kramer shoes? Where are they now?
Yet at the same time, the French luxury market is still going strong. I know that you may immediately think of Christian Louboutin… However, my preference goes to the slightly less expensive Robert Clergerie.
This is because it’s one of the few old family shoe-making businesses to survive the last three globalization-gone-mad decades of the 20th century, with no significant collateral damages.
The good news though, is that there’s a strong willingness to revive French shoe-making!
There remains exceptional know-how, particularly in the town of Romans-sur-Isère, in the Drôme department of southeastern France, which used to be the cradle of shoe-making.
This town has adjusted to today’s demands by making compromises through outsourcing and partnerships, focusing on better management and promoting French expertise, as well as the quality of the raw materials.
Romans-sur-Isère even offers an International Museum of Footwear, which is well worth visiting as it traces the history of shoe-making in France and has stunning items on display.
Which brands do French women buy?
I have selected my 13 preferred brands, which you’ll find regularly in French fashion magazines.
These have chain stores and are mid-range as far as price is concerned (except Robert Clergerie, but it’s worth looking in the shop window – shoe lust!).
The latest addition to my list is ‘What For’ and I was told by a store manager that it was 100% French. It’s certainly currently my favorite. You’ll find all of these stores in the 6th arrondissement, 75006, Paris.
- Minelli – 59 Ter rue Bonaparte
- What for – 51 Rue Bonaparte
- Arche – 21 rue du Dragon
- Shoe Bizz – 42 rue du Dragon
- Repetto – 51 rue du Four
- Robert Clergerie – 5 rue du Cherche Midi
- Accessoire Diffusion – 6 rue du Cherche Midi
- JB Martin – 13 rue du Cherche Midi
- Jet Set 7 – rue de Sèvres
- Parallèle 9 – rue de Sèvres
- Jonak – 70 rue de Rennes
- Texto – 104 rue de Rennes
- Bocage – 110 rue de Rennes
It’s important to remember that January and July are good times for purchase. These are the main sales months, where you’ll find les soldes and when it’s possible to find high-quality French footwear for bargain prices.
Speaking about your search for perfect footwear: insider tip
Oh, and a little side-note, but something you should know if you don’t yet. Consider the phrase below:
Trouver chaussure à son pied.
In French, this doesn’t necessarily translate to its literal equivalent in English:
To find the perfect pair of shoes.
It more often means:
To find the perfect match.
This makes a lot of sense, as some people may naturally wish for both in the City of Light and Love!
Paris shoe stores: French shoe shopping walking itinerary and map
And one last thing…
Below you will find my French shoe shopping itinerary and a walking map to help shoe addicts have the perfect French footwear shopping experience in Paris.
Do you have any other favorite French shoe stores in Paris? Please add to our list by sharing your recommendations in the comments section below.
Your subscription (free or paid) will be gratefully received, and will help me continue to build ‘le Bulletin’ – the weekly newsletter of MyFrenchLife.org Magazine to be even more rich.?Merci Mille Fois
1. Repetto shoes, via Instagram
2. Galeries Lafayette, via Wikipedia
3. Shoemaker’s atelier © Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier
4. Christian Louboutin shoes, by Sage and Simple via Flickr
5. Minelli © Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier
6. Loveheart shoes, by PreteMoiParis via Flickr
7. Walking itinerary, via Google Maps
NOTE: This popular article was refreshed and republished in 2021