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Outlet shopping in Paris.

Fulfilling a fashion fantasy: bargain hunting in Paris

THE TRUE BARGAIN hunter gets an adrenaline rush just thinking about bins of overhandled fabrics in which a morsel of cashmere may lurk, awaiting the touch of knowing fingers. If you fit this description and will be traveling to Paris, do we have a deal for you.

One Metro line will deliver you to two separate discount-shopping districts, where even patrons of elegant Avenue Montaigne boutiques are beginning to turn to stretch recession-lightened currency.

The more significant district is the three-block section of the Rue d'Alesia between Place Victor-Basch (at Avenue du General-Leclerc) and Rue Didot, in the 14th Arrondissement. Take Metro Line 4 toward the Porte d'Orleans to the Alesia station and walk west on Alesia.

A smaller concentration clusters along the Rue St.-Placide between Rue de Vaugirard and Rue de Sevres, in the 6th Arrondissement. For this destination, exit Line 4 at St.-Placide, just west of the Luxembourg Gardens.


Discounters have their own terminology--and it can be confusing. These are some discounting terms you're likely to run into:

Stock refers to merchandise left over from the last season (but not seconds). It is usually reduced by about 50 percent, and not available in all sizes or colors; returns and exchanges are unlikely to be permitted. A stock shop isn't the place to outfit yourself with an up-to-the-minute rig, but it can be a great source for a quality classic, such as a well-cut wool blazer, at a very reasonable price.

Promotions are special markdowns on the current line, in a full range of sizes (for women, this means European 36 to 42, or about 8 to 14 in American sizes).

Degriffes indicates that the designers' labels have been cut out.

Soldes signs are displayed to advertise spot sales.

As you cruise the storefronts, several clues can help you find stable businesses with reliable merchandise. Most shops accept credit cards of some sort (Visa seems most common), but American Express is generally costly to merchants, so those that honor it are likely to be doing well. A current Selectionne par Paris Pas Cher seal (awarded annually) posted near the door means you can expect particularly good value, although not necessarily rock-bottom prices.

Some places have a Coin des Affaires, like a rummage area, wherein the deepest discounts lie. These hold a miscellany of leftovers, many quite deservedly abandoned, but they also disgorge the occasional true find.

The French consider it polite to acknowledge the sales personnel as you enter a store. You'll find that a quick "bonjour" will win more cheerful service.

Rue d'Alesia. This pleasant street, stretching beneath a feathery arcade of Japanese pagoda trees, is chockablock with outlets. A few highlights: Dorothee Bis Stock (74) and Dorotennis (same building), with the designer's lines in knits and active sportswear; Stock 2 (92), with Daniel Hechter; Kookai (111 Bis), with both stock and promotions; Cacharel Stock (114); Jerry Diffusion (118), with Chantal Thomass; and Evolutif (139), with Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, and Cerutti.

For lunch, Rue d'Alesia has several brasseries. Or if you want to pinch pennies American-style, you can eat at the Burger King across Place Victor-Basch on General-Leclerc.

Rue St.-Placide. Closer to the heart of the Left Bank, this short street tends to be jammed with shoppers. The big draw is Mouton a Cinq Pattes--four different outlets, each with its own emphasis. Many stores in this neighborhood carry Caroll sportswear at significant markdowns, and four or five specialize in children's clothing. Our favorite St.-Placide shop is Pilou (9), which carries elegantly enduring last-season Guy Laroche degriffes.

Elsewhere. Other outlets are scattered around the city. Some of the noteworthy: Mendes (65 Rue Montmartre) for Saint Laurent and Lanvin; Lanvin Soldes Trois (3 Rue de Vienne) for more Lanvin, at about half-price; Pierre Cardin Stock (11 Boulevard Sebastopol); and Emmanuelle Khanh (6 Rue Pierre-Lescot).
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Williamson, Marcia
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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