Posted on: June 6, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

This post gives me a little nostalgia, since I always loved doing designer shopping recaps after Paris trips in my early blogging days! The designer shopping in Paris cannot be beat, both in terms of selection and pricing compared to here in the US. While I didn’t make any big purchases this visit, I did plenty of window shopping and wanted to share some info for anyone who might be visiting!

Goyard mini reversible Anjou bag

Sézane blouse 0, Madewell jeans 24 petite, DV flats 5.5 (a look for less with good reviews)

Why is it cheaper to buy certain designer goods in France?

A few elements that contribute to the savings:

Lower retail price in Euros (especially if the brand is based in Europe)

Favorable EUR / USD exchange rate

VAT refund

No US state sales tax

Conversely, your savings may be reduced by a few of these factors: any currency conversion fees on your credit card, processing fees on your VAT refund, and taxes that you may owe US customs on your purchases after flying home. As a US-resident, the first $800 per person of overseas purchases is exempt from taxes. If you’re traveling with family members, you can pool together that exemption amount.

What is a VAT refund & how do you get it?

I’ll let this article answer that in detail! Generally speaking, if you buy something in Europe but are not a resident there, you can get a tax refund of on qualifying purchases when you leave the country. In France, the VAT refund is 10% to 12%. In order to qualify:

Purchase needs to be made at a store that offers VAT refund paperwork. Not every store does this, but most of the major luxury goods boutiques did for purchases over $100.

At checkout, have your passport in hand. The store will use it to prepare the refund paperwork, and might require the name on your credit card to match what’s on the passport.

When departing the country, get the refund paperwork validated at the airport VAT kiosk. Here you can also choose if you’d like your refund in cash (higher processing fees) or on your credit card, which can take up to 4 – 6 weeks. Some people shared that they never received their VAT refund, so that is one risk. While I haven’t had that issue yet, my refund has always been a little less than 10 or 12% (I’m assuming due to processing fees).

When doing step 3 at the airport, make sure to have your receipts and purchased goods with you, in case any questions or issues arise with the VAT paperwork. If you need to check your bags, do so after completing this step.

What about shopping at CDG airport?

The luxury shopping at CDG is amazing! If you’re flying out of terminal 2, there’s a ton of boutiques including Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Cartier, Gucci, Prada, and Longchamp. A major benefit of buying something in a duty-free airport shop versus elsewhere in France, is the airport pricing already has the VAT removed. So you can avoid the 3 VAT steps above and don’t need to hold your breath waiting for a refund that might never come.

The downside of buying at the airport is you don’t know what inventory the airport shops will have. But if you’re looking for a very standard style & color (for example: a black Celine Triomphe bag), then chances are high that it’ll be in stock at the airport.

Celine Triomphe bag in teen size

What are some of the price differences in France vs US?


One of my favorite designers and usually a first stop when shopping in Paris. The savings are significant compared to US pricing including on the popular Triomphe belts, bags, and sunglasses. The designs are iconic in my opinion, and the teen bag size is perfect for petites! The adjustable strap can be worn either on the shoulder or crossbody.

Example: Triomphe bag in teen size

France price: € 3200 – 12% VAT refund = € 2816 / $3056 USD

CDG airport price: € 2,816 EUR (no additional VAT refunds). As expected, the airport price is the same as in a boutique elsewhere in France with the VAT already removed.

US price: $3,950

Savings: 23%

For simplicity’s sake here, I’m not including any potential transaction fees, US customs, or US sales taxes since those will vary in each case. If you live in a state with high sales tax, then your savings will be greater.


Since Goyard has very few US boutiques and no online shopping, their Paris shops are great for savings and to try a variety of styles in person. I hadn’t even realized that Goyard no longer charges a premium for colors! Colors used to cost about 30% more than their standard black or brown prints, and are now all priced the same. You can reference my older Goyard review blog post.

Example: St. Louis PM tote

France price: € 1,350 – 12% VAT refund = € 1,188 / $1289 USD

US price: $1,620

Savings: 20%

All Goyard colors are now priced the same


Another great designer to shop while in Paris due to the lower pricing, great selection (especially at their beautiful flagship store) and a totally different system for buying handbags compared to Hermès US.

Example: Oran sandals

France price: € 595 – 10% VAT refund = € 536 / $584 USD

US price: $760

Savings: 23%

How do I buy a handbag at Hermès Paris?

In the US, it’s notoriously hard to buy an Hermès handbag without a customer spending history and relationship with a sales associate. And while it’s also not an easy process at their Paris flagship store, it is slightly more accessible.

You can request a leather goods shopping appointment via an online lottery system that opens on their website daily at 10AM, Sunday – Friday. The chances of getting an appointment via lottery are very slim, but several of my friends had luck walking into a boutique and asking for a leather goods appointment. On our last day in Paris I almost succeeded this way, but alas, the associate only had an opening the following day.

Hermès bags for display purposes only


I’ve been a big fan of this brand for their understated, “quiet luxury” pieces, and you can get major savings by buying in its home country of France. I read about the lengthy lines at their flagship Paris store, but didn’t encounter any crowds at the Le Marais location! As a heads up, while there were many bags out on display, they did seem low on inventory of popular styles and colors for purchase.

The Bèri in black has by far been my most-worn bag from this brand in recent years. The annual price hikes have been significant, but the France pricing

Example: Bèri bag with leather strap

France price: € 350 – 12% VAT refund = € 308 / $335 USD

US price: $480

Savings: 30%

Louis Vuitton

Another Parisian brand where you can get significant savings when purchasing over there.

Example: Neverfull MM

France price: € 1,500 – 12% VAT refund = €1,320 / $1,436 USD

US price: $2,030

Savings: 29%

Mini Bumbag

France price: € 1,600 – 12% VAT refund = €1,408 / $1,532 USD

US price: $2,030

Savings: 25%

Chanel medium vs mini flap

Oak + Fort trench coat in beige xxs, COS striped tee xs, AT pants 00 petite, JC flats 5.5


Compared to the other brands on list, this one is not as favorable to shop in France. Over the past few years, Chanel has leveled their international retail pricing to be consistent across different countries.

If you’re just looking at the EUR retail prices and converting them to USD, they’re actually higher than here! So any savings will only be from the VAT refund and the lack of US state sales tax. The boutiques are still beautiful to browse, though, with a large stock and selection. The mini flap is a personal favorite – the chain strap looks super long, but Chanel offers free chain clip to adjust the length.

Ballet flats

France price: € 960 – 10% VAT refund = € 864 / $941 USD

US price: $975

Savings: 4%

Medium classic flap (still can’t get over the price of this now!!)

France price: € 10,300 – 10% VAT refund = € 9,270 / $10,093 USD

US price: $10,800

Savings: 7%

Mini flap

France price: € 4,950 – 10% VAT refund = € 4,455 / $4,840 USD

US price: $5,200

Savings: 7%

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent was another must-stop for me in past trips to Paris, but this time, I didn’t have anything on my wishlist. My Solferino bag from a few years ago is still serving me very well. It might feel too small for some, but is perfect for fitting just my phone, wallet, and keys.

Example: Solferino Small bag

France price: € 2,550 – 12% VAT refund = € 2,244 / $2,441 USD

US price: $3,150

Savings: 23%

Loewe small square tote

France price: € 580 – 12% VAT = €510 / $555 USD

US price $790

Savings: 30%

Leave a Comment