Wow. I can’t believe we’ve already plowed through 4 weeks of Euro travel tips!
March 6th: Intro to Hopping the Pond
March 13th: Get Yer Transportation On!
March 20th : Where to Sleep?
March 27th : Eating your way through Europe...yummo.
April 3rd: Shop 'till Ya Drop! (that's TODAY!)
Now we’re onto the really fun part of Europe travel.
In true frugal mama style!
I’ll be covering my personal favorites, where I’ve found the best deals. You won’t see me posting about the Gucci store or Yves Saint Laurent. I just don’t consider those a good deal – ever! But, that’s just my style.
I’m actually going to go ahead and split this blog into two weeks. As I was typing this all up, it got long - really long! I have a lot to say here!
So this week we’ll cover Euro shopping for Housewares, Antiques, and Crafts & Fabric.
Next week we’ll head over to clothing, shoes and foods (ie; chocolate!).
Okay, so get your pen & paper ready (or printer!).
Here we go!
While in France, look up BHV- the sister store to the fabulous Galeries Lafayette.
I definitely recommend visiting Galeries Lafayette, just so you can say you’ve seen it. I never thought that a department store could be considered “beautiful”, but this one is stunning.
Fun to visit, but high prices.
So anyway, onto Gallerie’s sister, BHV.
BHV is actually great for housewares, books, and I’ve found a few great deals on clothing. Most of their stores are @ 3 or 4 stories high, so you’ll have plenty of things to peruse.
In Switzerland, Interio is fabulous. IKEA-like prices, but more of a chic and somewhat shabby feel.
I’ve wanted to bring the entire store home with me several times over!
By far, the best place for interior fabrics is Marché Saint-Pierre in Paris.
This is a fabric store that will boggle your mind. It's actually an outlet to the big-daddy fabric district of Paris, so prices are incredible.
I've written about this area of Paris previously...you can find it here!
I purchased this fabric for @ 10 euros per yard (@ $13 per yard)
Once I got it home, I realized that it wasn't just 60" wide - it was 90" wide! That's a ton of fabric, just waiting for a whole lotta fun!
For more crafty fun, again, I've gotta send props out to BHV in France (see above). Crafty supplies like I have never seen in any country. You will have fun!
My favorite location is in Paris, on Rue de Rivoli. (you’ll find crafts in the center of the 2nd floor – woohoo!).
Most fabric markets throughout Germany and France and much of the Netherlands, carry the same fabric vendors, so if you can hit just one of these, you’ll be happy.
Just a warning that fabric prices are insanely higher than Stateside, but once you lay your eyes on some Danish fabric and trims, you’ll be opening your wallet several times over!
(fabric junkies: consider yourself warned!)
A wonderful resource on Euro fabric markets is Angela (one of my true besties…).
I’ll actually be posting a blog soon on a recent Fabric trip that she and I took just a few weeks ago. It was yummy.
Sorry to say that for now, I have no favorites in the area of crafty stores in Germany. They may exist, but I just never found them! I’m still investigating Switzerland and Italy for their crafty spots.
Antiques (savin' the best for last...)
Oooooo la la. My favorite subject.
Outdoor & flea type markets will be your best friend here!
And, no worries if you’re traveling in the dead of winter – they have these rain or shine or serious cold!
(I’m pretty sure I’m still experiencing frost bite from a Paris ’09 trip. It was crazy cold, but it was worth every frozen moment!).
My favorites for antique-lovin' markets are always in France...
For those seeking Paris markets, Why Go Paris has this great write-up that's full of info!
In Metz, France (in the Lorraine region), they have a wonderful antiques market hall.
All the antiques there are impeccable. If you want to see some amazing true antiques, this is the place to go, but be warned that the prices are a bit higher than most markets in Europe.
If you don’t find something that you want to spend some Euro on, you can always go just to look and eat. Here’s a pic of their “food court”.
You’ll be pleased.
The Sunday market in Tongeren, Belgium is a very popular market. You will find all kinds of info about it online. Here’s a good blog about it.
Tongeren is a lot of fun and offers a large variety of Euro antiques, but is also not the cheapest place to go. In my experience, the smaller, more unorganized markets offer the best deals.
In Germany, look for signs along roadways that read Floh-Mkt. These are flea markets that have a little of everything. New stuff, old stuff, weird stuff.
It’s all there.
And because they are not an organized and well advertised antiques market, the prices are much lower.
You'll find links to Italian markets here and here, but I can't vouch for any of these as of yet...I'm still working on my sources for Italy as we speak!
Now, just being honest here. I have my favorite little spots that are major suppliers to my business. It took me several years to find these little jewels, so I'm afraid that I can't divulge any info on these. These babies are my trade secret, so my lips are sealed...
No matter what market (or country) you’re visiting, don’t be afraid to bargain. I bargain with sellers all the time and I actually think they get a kick out of it!
If you don’t speak the language well, just carry a little notepad with you to clarify pricing between you and the seller. No matter what language I’m hearing, I always get 2, 12, and 20 all corn-fused.
A notepad could save you some serious pennies!
Last note about antiques & flea-type markets.
Cash is KING. Euro cash, that is.
You will not find near as many ATM's overseas as you find here in the States, so make sure that you load up every morning on your way out!
When planning your trip, please note that in most countries located in western Europe, there is no shopping on Sundays. I’ve found a few open stores on rare occasion in France, but I can guarantee that Switzerland, Italy and Germany are ghost towns on Sundays. Sunday is the perfect day to sight see or enjoy wine & cheese in the park. A day to rest your worn out shopping toes!
Or, you could always gear-up and head to Tongeren!
Smaller towns in Switzerland and several in France also shut down for lunch during the week. A lengthy lunch. Like, two hours typically. I told you that Europeans enjoy their food!
I think that about covers things for now.
I hope this helps and please know that this is info based on my personal experiences. You will find loads of Euro shopping info both online and in some great travel books - check out these on Amazon!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
I'm working like a mad-woman on prepping & pricing the new inventory and also putting together a few more Euro blogs!
Hope you're having a fabulous week!
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