Friday, 21 February 2014

Expat shopping hotspots

There’s no one who doesn’t have experience with shopping – and for many, it’s a fun pastime or even a hobby. For globetrotting expats, a shopping trip can be a real eye opener! The first shopping trip to a new area in a foreign country can result in a totally different experience and can often open up a whole new cultural dimension of society.

Image source: Creative Common/Patrick Rouzet

Italian passion
Shopping abroad is likely to be a very different experience from shopping at home. For expats living beside the French-Italian border, Ventimiglia is host to a wonderfully traditional market teeming with local Italian produce but this is not just any food market – you’re likely to see a true passion for the products. Owners of the stalls are recognised as being fiery characters who might berate you for buying only one or two items – because how could you resist buying more?!

Ab fab
Long renowned as a glamour spot, Dubai’s expat community are well-versed in luxury goods – so it’s no surprise that they have their own shopping festival, boasting beautiful products, food and fireworks. Abu Dhabi has recently opened a few malls to cater for an upmarket clientele to compete with Dubai’s shopping scene. If you’re based in Abu Dhabi, you’ll be glad of this as it means you don’t have to go to Dubai every time you want to shop, but it might mean you have to settle for a slightly smaller variety of items. 

For many, Paris is the capital of fashion as well as the capital of France. The city has a magical feel and could knock any clothes fanatic into a dream-like state. Avenue des Champs Élysées is of course where the super wealthy flash the cash but you can find some stores around this area that cater for a more modest-sized wallet or purse.

Designer shops around the city are found in the most beautiful buildings built many centuries ago. If you are as impressed by architecture as you are by fashion then go to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré/Rue Saint-Honoré —get off at Metro stations Concorde, Tuileries, Palais Royal Musée du Louvre or Louvre Rivoli to see some of the best buildings.

Image source: Creative Common/Esme Vos
When it comes to the festive season, the department stores of Paris go all out to put on a winter-wonderland spectacle - and the window design has indeed become a very serious business. Top designers are brought in to ensure every square inch of window space is taken up with the most visually intriguing, striking designs.

And it’s not just about the food - Café de la Paix at Opéra was used as the location of the final scene in François Mauriac’s most famous novel Thérèse Desqueyroux (1927). It might not be the first choice if you’re on a tight budget, but well worth a look if you fancy a treat in a setting that has inspired a novel which is still studied in schools around Europe today.

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