Planning your holidays but have an irresistible urge to shop? Cities around the world are bursting with treasures and places to discover, from Latin America’s handicraft markets to Asia’s malls and Europe’s bustling streets. Take a round-the-world tour to visit today’s trendiest tempting temples.
The fashion capitals
The most famous shopping streets are associated with designers’ names: walking down them often amounts to following in the footsteps of fashion legends.
Paris, the wellspring of haute couture, is the world’s uncontested fashion capital. Shopaholics can’t miss the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps on boulevard Haussmann before strolling over to the historic Bon Marché department store on the Left Bank, while the hipster crowd prefers the Marais and its avant-garde boutiques.
In Milan, the Vittorio Emmanuelle II shopping arcade, a treat for the eyes as well as the wardrobe, is a glass-roofed temple of luxury. Further away, the “Golden Square” — Vie Sant’Andrea, Manzoni, Montenapoleone and della Spiga — is the Promised Land during fashion week, featuring the best the world’s designers have to offer.
For a more eclectic trip, London is a winning combination between eccentric styles and British class. Countless shopping streets with international chains, pop-up stores and British brands draw fashionistas from around the world. Visit 2.5-km-long Oxford Street or Harrods, Europe’s biggest department store. Don’t miss Boxing Day on 26 December, which kicks off the winter sales, keeping shoppers sated until the next holidays!
New York has yellow cabs, Gossip Girl, Tiffany’s — and shopping temples immortalised by popular culture. The most expensive shops line Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the city’s longest thoroughfare. The Upper East Side and Soho are quieter and less touristy, with many thrift shops where a vintage coat can be had for $10. There’s no need to spend a fortune to step out in style!
Everybody has his or her own definition of successful shopping: a full closet or a full stomach. Tourism also means discovering local crafts and flavours. The world’s markets await foodies and strollers looking for one-off pieces.
In Marrakech, the souks showcase local craftsmanship and flavours. Spreading out in the medina and the Mellah quarter, each street specialises in one craft: Siyyaghin for jewellery, El Kebir for leather and so on. It takes plenty of patience to find the babouche that fits (and to haggle over the price) in these huge mazes. In the same spirit, the streets of Bangkok are overflowing with handicrafts. Thailand’s capital is packed with Western-style malls, but the real treasures are found on the city’s streets. Two destinations are unmissable: the Rot Fai night market, a must for sampling the local cuisine, and, on the weekends, the emblematic Chatuchak market, Asia’s biggest.
Care for a festive shopping trip? Head for Latin America and the markets of Rio de Janeiro. All week, the Feira de São Cristóvão opens its stalls and restaurants during the day and hosts festivities at night on the weekends. The Ispanema hippie fair, a throwback to the post-68 years, features Brazilian handicrafts on Saturdays and Sundays. But the trendier Babilônia Hype artists’ market is the place to go for one-off pieces, offbeat art works and the hippest music.
Fashion and eclecticism: multi-faceted cities
Sometimes, a city has many faces — chic, retro, beatnik, hippie, kawaii, etc. — depending on its history and people. Traditional shops, local markets and big chain stores coexist in these cosmopolitan places. It’s impossible to get bored (or to keep your wallet in your pocket).
An extreme climate can influence shopping — or “magasinage” as they say in Quebec! Montreal is two cities in one. The first is above ground, with big shopping thoroughfares like boulevard Saint-Laurent and faubourg Sainte-Catherine. But in the dead of winter, shopping continues underground, where 33 kilometres of shop-lined galleries connect the whole city.
Hong Kong is another destination for a total change of pace. Typical of southern China’s cities, each street specialises in a different kind of ware. On Cat Street, antique shops draw visitors from around the world, while Tung Choi Street has a market selling goldfish — local symbols of a happy home. There’s even a Sneakers Street for footwear!
Thousands of kilometres away, Dubai is a mix of tall skyscrapers, outsized malls and the outdoor markets of Old Dubai. The huge Mall of Emirates offers window-shopping and skiing, while the desert sun beats down on the traditional markets of Bur Dubai (textiles) and Deira (perfume and gold). There’s something for everybody!
At the end of the day, whether you enjoy malls or bustling streets, the world is your oyster. My TripPlanner, your travelling companion available at accorhotels.com, helps you find the events and places that can’t be missed. Click on the “Shopping” tab to plan your trip!
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2014 The Global Indian New Network (TGINN)