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Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

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Los Angeles...
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Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

Hello!

I'm eagerly anticipating my visit to France this September. I've done all sorts of research on hotels, transportation, the sights, etc... But I'm curious about the shopping in Paris. I'm not a souvenir/swag kind of person, and instead like to purchase a nicer item that I can wear/use and will remind me of my travels.

I've always dreamed of a Cartier tank watch and am considering the possibility of purchasing one in Paris. Sure, I can just go down the street to the Cartier boutique in Beverly Hills, but why not buy it in Paris? Well, I've got the Euro rate against me- ugh! But are the prices better in Paris? Also, I'm not clear on how VAT works- would it be to my advantage? I also plan to check out Balenciaga and peruse their purse selection.

I probably won't be able to purchase a watch AND purse, but would like to leave France with one of these "wish list" items!

I know these are rather silly questions, so THANKS in advance for your help!

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1. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

Hi, I am also a shopper and there are several considerations with high end purchases.

1. For any items above the $800 U.S. customs waiver, you will be paying duty here on your return.

2. The dollar to euro rate is awful so things like a Cartier watch that has been in stock in a U.S. jeweler might be cheaper than one from a U.S cartier shop which is probably keyed to the French prices.

3. If you have euros from earlier trips when the excahnge rate was better, you might be OK.

4. Not all the VAT is refunded so you need to check the percents.

When I know I want something high end, I comparison shop here first and then factor in all the above. That way I have this written down when I am looking at items in Paris and can tell whether they are good buys or not. Price the watch and bag here and make the comparisons.

I looked at a bag I wanted at Vuitton last June in Paris but did not want all the problems as I was over my U.S customs amount, etc. Purchased the same bag in Portland Oregon in October where they do not charge tax. It was existing stock and just before a price increase to reflect the falling dollar. Came in at about the same as it would have been with all the U.S. customs fees.

Generally, I will look for items I can't find here. Will also be there in September and the sales are over.

These are not silly questions but are an intelligent way to plan and shop. Good luck.

Grants Pass, Oregon
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2. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

Holger has a good plan. I have found that Hermes or Louis Vuitton sometimes has styles that are not yet available in the US. If that is what you are looking for, then get one.

Remember, and I got caught on this one, if you declare over the $800.00/person allowance the whole amount can be taxed by the State of California. You may get a letter from the Board of Eq. requesting the sales tax due to them which you didn't pay in Paris. California is a forerunner on this issue. You can imagine my surprise when I received that letter! However, some States are not reciprocal in sharing this information. So if you enter the country in Atlanta and pay duty it may, and I can't assure you of this, not share this info with California.

Another option is to shop at one of the depot-Vente shops such as Reciproque on Rue de la Pompe 16e. It has, it seems, miles of designer and other items located in 6 shops. I bought a lovely cashmire/silk scarf and a fantastic jacket at it.

Of course, you can always visit Hermes-the main store on St Honore. The have an unlimited budget for window decor and the store itself is lovely and the selection of scarves is almost overwhelming.

Where ever you shop, enjoy!

Grants Pass, Oregon
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3. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

Sorry, you also asked how VAT worked. You have to spend 175 euros in one place to qualify. You then will show your passport or a copy of it and the sales clerk will fill in a VAT refund form for you. They generally also give you an envelope which may or may not have a stamp. (It has to have a stamp before you mail it.)

At CDG you then have to go to the de-tax window and give the inspector the form(s). He will ask for your passport and your plane ticket (or computer print out) and he may ask for the items, so you MUST have them with you and not in your checked bag. Sometimes there is a line at the window, so be prepared to wait. At least give yourself enough time. You have to complete this transaction before you depart the country. Then take the stamped form he gives you back and put it in the envelope and put the envelope in the mailbox almost behind the de-taxe line. If you have more than one form, be careful you don't mix up the correct envelope and forms. I note what the store is on the back of the envelope, so I don't make a mistake.

Please also note: I have read on TA that sometimes there is no one at the de-taxe window. I have never had that happen, however.

Worcester, MA
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4. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

If you are leaving from Paris on an early morning flight, very often the De-tax kiosk is closed.

jhg

TX1
Southlake, Texas
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5. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

I suppose the "advantage" is the simple memory of your purchase. I decided to purchase a Chanel purse while visiting Paris in May, since I've always wanted one and to be able to say that I purchased it in Paris would be special.

Did I loose money because of the exchange rate? I don't know - but I love my purse and the memory.

The VAT is very easy - just be sure and have your passport with you when you go shopping.

Have a great trip!

TX1

Bahamas
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6. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

Colour me clueless, and perhaps sneaky! but why on earth can't you just buy a Cartier watch/ring/bracelet etc. or a purse from Chanel and wear and use these items going through customs? How are they to know that it's a new purchase? How could they possibly prove (would they even want to?) that these were bought just before your arrival back?

I really don't get it. I use good jewelry, (and bring more in my purse) watches and handbags while traveling ~ some of it designer. If anyone were to question it, those receipts are long since gone! I would refuse to pay duty on a two-year old classic tank Cartier, for instance.

San Francisco...
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7. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

Soames, if they get picky about questioning something, the customs agents actually are pretty sophisticated about figuring out what's new and what's not (plus, I suspect it would be up to the traveler to prove their position, if challenged). For instance, jewelry that has been worn very much will have very minute scratches on any shiny surface, which will make it plain that it's not brand new (same with clasps on handbags, etc.).

Los Angeles...
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8. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

WOW- so many great responses. THANKS for the info.

I'm totally not sold on purchasing these items in France, just thought I would investigate the option. I'm a savvy shopper and although it would be nice to say "I bought it in Paris", I cannot ignore the financial drawbacks!

My "nice" souvenirs may end up just being items that are truly unique to France- like a pair of shoes I cannot purchase in the states, or something like that. Hubby and I also plan to shop for kitchen/cooking goodies as we're total foodies and those items will forever remind us of our adventures in France.

THANKS, again!

TX1
Southlake, Texas
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9. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

You'll have a great time - and you'll find plenty of foodie stuff.

I took a cooking class at the Rtiz when I was there and picked up a few items there as well as other stores having unique items - have fun!

And even if you don't purchase those luxury items there - atleast you can go to the stores and say you've been there - that was 1/2 the fun to me!

TX1

Grants Pass, Oregon
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10. Re: Advantage to buying "luxury" goods in France?

chargergrrl....Your last post is the best plan. It is a super feeling cooking with an ingredient you can only buy in France, as you toss out to your guests, "Oh, I bought that whatever in France." Don't forget to shop at Monoprix or the like and get some spices or dried mushrooms or something like that to cook with. The containers are a great souvenir. Or a pair of Arche shoes....