Splurge on the ultimate souvenir in Paris and save hundreds when you get back home.
It’s no secret that luxury brands are more expensive in the U.S. due to import tax, international transportation costs, and state sales tax, but not everyone knows how to get the most bang for their buck while shopping luxury abroad. Many brands are already between 10-30% cheaper in Paris, but as a tourist, you can save even more with a few hot tips.
VAT, or Value Added Tax, is automatically included in the final price of most consumer goods in Paris. Foreign buyers, however, can get it refunded.
To qualify for a refund:
- You must spend more than €100.01 in a single store, on a single day.
- You cannot open or use your purchase before leaving the EU.
You can get the tax back immediately in cash (you’ll receive 10.8% of your purchase back if you leave the EU within 21 days,) or you can wait a month and get the refund via your credit card. In this case, you’ll receive 12% of your purchase back. Make sure you bring your passport if you want the immediate refund, and always keep in mind that you’ll be subject to pay duty on your purchases upon going home (this is typically 3% in the US.)
Founded in 1854, Louis Vuitton is one of the most famous luxury brands in the world. It’s also where you’ll find some of the biggest savings in Paris, because retail prices are much cheaper than in the US. For example, the Neverfull MM bag is one of the most popular from the brand. In the US, it costs $2,030 but you can save about 21% by purchasing the bag in Paris, not including the VAT refund.
From handbags to perfume, just about the entire planet knows about Chanel. Even as a luxury brand, it’s on the pricier end, so buying in Paris makes even more sense. The timeless 2.55 bag with its quilted black leather and elegant gold chain shoulder strap goes for $10,200 in the US. In Paris, you can get the same bag for around 3.5% cheaper, plus the 12% VAT refund if you purchase with a credit card.
The coveted trunk-maker Goyard was established in 1792 and is still highly regarded all around the world for its top-quality leather goods. The Saint Louis GM tote is one of the more popular and versatile bags from the brand, and it currently retails for $1,650 in the US. If you buy it in Paris, however, you can save about 26% before the VAT refund.
Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent is lauded as one of the most influential designers of the modern age. The brand was one of the first to wholly integrate art and fashion, which revolutionized the industry forever. The Le 5 à 7 Leather hobo bag is a chic closet staple perfect for a night out, and it costs $2,400 in the US, but you can get it for 16% less in Paris pre VAT refund.
Dior founded the classic high femme look ever present on runways today. The timeless fashion house specializes in opulent beauty, as evident in each collection since the brand’s inception. The medium Lady Dior is one of the most popular bags Dior sells, and it currently costs $6,500 in the US. You could save 21% if you buy the purse in Paris, even before the tax refund.
Hermès is a truly international brand, selling products in over 140 countries around the world and making some of the most sought-after handbags of all time. Everything is still handmade in France using traditional methods, rather than outsourcing manufacturing processes elsewhere. It’s no wonder, then, that the ultra-trendy Birkin 35 doesn’t come cheap. In the US, you can get this bag for $12,400 – but in Paris, you’ll save 18% before factoring in the VAT refund.
Repetto has been combining the art of dance with luxury clothing since 1947. The brand is known for popularizing ballet flats for everyday wear by designing comfortable shoes with an indisputable air of elegance. Their Cendrillon Ballerinas in particular are some of their most coveted, and can be found in the US for $370. Although these are a more affordable option in the world of luxury footwear, you can still save about 22% (not including the tax refund) if you buy them in Paris.
Founded in 1948, Longchamp started out making leather pipe covers, and eventually branched out to handbags in 1971. It’s still a family business to this day, and has become one of the leading leather goods brands in France. This success is evident with the Le Pliage bag, of which over 30 million have been sold (even Kate Middleton has one!). In the US, Le Pliage City M Tote Bag is $225, but you’ll pay around 27% less excluding the VAT refund if you buy it in Paris.
A. P. C.
A.P.C. is well known for its casual yet stylish designs that are made to last. Raw denim jeans are very popular here, as are the minimalistic handbags that transcend trends. The Demi-Lune bag in particular can be worn on the shoulder or as a crossbody, for multipurpose functionality. It goes for $625 in the US, and you can save about 23% pretax refund if you purchase it in Paris instead.