If you love to shop, Milan is one of the world’s great fashion centers, and offers experiences and goods for every taste, from Corso Buenos Aires, which has a higher ratio of stores per square foot than anywhere else in Europe, to the edgy street style of Corso di Porta Ticinese and upscale Via Montenapoleone, where there’s no limit on what you can spend. Milan is home to global fashion giants such as Armani, Prada, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Ermenegildo Zegna; behind them stands a host of less famous designers who help fill all those fabulous shops.
Paris’s legendary shopping destinations draw people from the world over—The Champs-Élysées and Rue St-Honoré are the ultimate shopaholic high—but perhaps a deeper allure lies in lesser-known attractions: the city harbors scores of hidden neighborhoods and shopping streets—some well traveled, others just emerging. Each has a distinct style that reflects the character of the particular quarter. At the outer edge of the Marais, Rue Oberkampf is well known among youthful fashionistas for its eclectic atmosphere and bohemian flavor. High-end jewelry and of-the-minute boutiques are clustered amid stylish wine bars and comfy cafés. Just around the corner from teeming Les Halles, Rues Étienne Marcel, du Jour, du Louvre, and Montmartre are jam-packed with big names (like Yohji Yamamoto and Agnès b), but it also boasts a multitude of smaller boutiques (such as Shine) that are popular with hip young Parisians. For more ideas, read Best Shopping in Paris.
Globalization has made most goods available in Venice and items like Venetian glass widely available in major cities throughout the world. While the selection of Italian and Venetian made goods may be a bit better in Venice than at home, the prices may actually be lower in the United States, especially considering that U.S. retailers discount sale goods quite radically. Venetian antiques, especially antique Venetian glass, is almost invariably cheaper in other places, because Venetians are ready to pay high prices for their own heritage. So, before your trip, check the prices at home on what you may wish to buy abroad before you leave. Alluring shops abound in Venice. You’ll find countless vendors of trademark Venetian wares such as glass and lace. The authenticity of some goods can be suspect, but they’re often pleasing to the eye regardless of their place of origin. There are also some interesting craft and art studios, where you can find high-quality, one-of-a-kind articles, but Venice is a design center only for glass, lace, and high-end textiles. You will probably find a better choice of leather, clothing, and furnishings in other Italian cities.
THE FRENCH RIVIERA
There is something about St-Tropez that makes shopping simply irresistible—unlike Cannes, you’ll be welcomed into the stores no matter what you look like or what you’re wearing. Rue Sibilli, behind Quai Suffren, is lined with all kinds of trendy boutiques, many carrying those all-important sunglasses. Tuck in behind here to Place de la Garonne for some extra-hip purchases.
Whether you’re window-shopping or splurging on that little Raf Simons number in the Dior window, you’ll find some of the best shopping outside Paris on the streets off La Croisette. For stores carrying designer names, try Rond-point Duboys-d’Angers off Rue Amouretti, Rue des Serbes, and Rue des Belges, all perpendicular to the waterfront. Rue d’Antibes is the town’s main shopping drag, home base to every kind of clothing and shoe shop, as well as mouthwatering candy, fabric, and home design stores. Rue Meynadier mixes trendy young clothes with high-end food specialties.
Nice’s main shopping street, Avenue Jean-Médecin, runs inland from Place Masséna; all needs and most tastes are catered to in its big department stores (Galeries Lafayette, Monoprix, and the split-level Étoile mall). The tramway, launched in late 2007, has made this mini–Champs-Elysées all the more accessible, so expect crowds on Saturday (the majority of shops are still closed on Sunday). Luxury boutiques, such as Emporio Armani, Kenzo, Chanel, and Sonia Rykiel, line Rue du Paradis, while Rue de France and the Old Town have more affordable offerings.
London shopping trips incorporate everything from the world’s most exclusive designer stores – think the boutiques of Mayfair – to grabbing a bargain in a market stall on Brick Lane. For a global shopping break, London offers the best shops all in one city.
No shopping experience in London would be complete without a visit to Oxford Street, which has been London’s most famous shopping thoroughfare for over a century. It’s lined with flagship branches of major British brands, like Topshop, Marks and Spencers and Selfridges, and its Christmas lights are a major festive attraction in London.
Nearby, Regent Street and Bond Strefeature exclusive designer stores, as well as Liberty, an iconic London department store founded in 1875. Nearby, the shops of Carnaby Street offer a string of boutique shops in an area that’s synonymous with the Swinging Sixties and iconic British fashion.
For upmarket shopping in chic surroundings, head to Knightsbridge, home to Harrods, Europe’s biggest department store. This enormous shopping landmark occupies over five acres of space with its many departments and opulent décor, offering the perfect shopping excursion all under one roof.
Which is your favourite shopping destination?