If I’ve entered a Chanel store in the past, it has never been with the intention of buying something…at least not until now. I recently visited two Chanel locations in Paris, 31 rue Cambon and 51 avenue Montaigne. My purchase took place at the latter. The fashion advisors who assisted me at both stores were welcoming, excellent conversationalists (we spoke in French), and made my experience memorable. I was also showered in bouquets of white roses for International Women’s Day, which opened beautifully when I placed them in a vase at home. Someone left a bouquet of tulips from Ferragamo behind, so I added those to my collection. Thus, I concluded March 8 with my first Chanel item and three bouquets of flowers. Here’s what to expect on your initial visit to a Chanel location in Paris.
- Someone will ask you what item(s) you are shopping for the moment you enter the store (after the bonjours and bienvenues of course). It’s a good idea to have an answer prepared. I’d planned to buy a pair of classic ballerines in black and even went so far as to try them on for size at Bergdorf Goodman beforehand.
- When you arrive, you’ll be put into a queue. At Cambon, I was asked to wait for a fashion advisor in the shoe department on a cushioned bench; one became available within 30 minutes. At Montaigne, I waited at least 90 minutes for an advisor and went to Dior and Ladurée in the interim. I opted to receive a notification via text message when it was my turn. You may schedule an appointment in advance online provided there is availability.
- You will be offered a drink at the beginning of your shopping session and may choose from either still water, sparkling water, juice, or Champagne. At Cambon, I settled on a bottle of Evian. I asked for Champagne at Montaigne but they’d run out by then; I was there past closing time after all. Also, chocolate wafers from Angelina appeared along with Evian at Montaigne; I’m not sure if they are a staple among Chanel’s refreshments or if they were for International Women’s Day like the roses. If you know, comment below.
- Everything isn’t on display. Just because something isn’t visible doesn’t mean it’s out of stock. I learned this on a walk around the shoe department with my style advisor at Cambon. To my amazement, she pushed aside several sliding mirrors to reveal shelves upon shelves of shoes not otherwise visible.
- The display shoes have a price sticker on the bottom. I deduced that the ballet flats I tried on at Cambon had been on display (at some point) from the price sticker on the bottom. They were the last pair at that location.
- The advisors wear all black. This makes them easy to spot on the sales floor. However, you shouldn’t need to go searching for anyone; your advisor stays with you the whole time.
- Your advisor will need your passport to prepare the paperwork that will allow you to receive your VAT (value-added tax) back. Please note: it is not advisable to wear the purchases from which you plan to receive VAT on the flight home. In case of inspection, they should look like purchases. Place them in your carry-on.
Meridame II (navy/ecru stripes) // J.Crew Martie pant (black) // Chanel classic ballerines (black)