What to do when those grey, rainy days happen to clash with your perfectly planned holiday? Or when you are just longing to have that perfect outfit that you can say your bought on your vacation to Paris or Madrid? Or when you’re looking for some of those amazing quality vintage pieces? Well, go shopping of course! France and Spain have some of the most fashion-conscious and shopping-perfect cities in the world, so if you’re a shopaholic, be sure to set aside a day (or more!) in your travel plans to hit some of these incredible shopping centers! Best of all, if you're travelling with Renfe-SNCF en Coopération’s high speed trains, you don’t have to worry about weighing and re-weighing your luggage, or stressing about those 500 extra grams in your bag!
Forum des Halles - Paris, France
Main entrance to Les Halles, Paris
For about 800 years, Les Halles was known as one of the most popular meeting and shopping points in all of Paris - not for the modern, stylish clothes and shops we know today - but as a wholesale food market. From the 13th to the end of the 20th century, Les Halles was the place to go for all kinds of delicious foods and beverages. In the 1960s, it became becoming simply too congested and busy to be functional, and the food market was moved to a Parisian suburb, leaving room for what is today known as one of Paris’ best shopping malls. The Forum des Halles was designed by to architects and finally opened to the public in 1986, and today contains over 150 stores and services, including shops, restaurants, cinemas, discos and bars, and underneath it lies the largest underground metro station in the world. In 2013 it was France’s second most visited shopping center, attracting over 39 million people.
La Vallee Village - Paris, France
Does hearing brand names like Gucci, Armani and Jimmy Choo in the same sentence as ‘Discount Prices’ make you go giddy? Though slightly further outside Paris’ city center, La Vallee Village Designer Outlet Mall is definitely the place to go looking for those amazing deals on those fabulous brands that you just cannot pass up on. It is, in fact, the most successful outlet shopping location in France, and located right next to Disneyland Paris.
One of the biggest fashion capitals of the world, Paris is home to some of the most talented designers and talented tailors. Do not miss out out acquiring some new prized possessions for your wardrobe, along with the tale of how you bought them in the most romantic and fashionable city on the globe! Aside the delicious selection of brands to choose from, La Vallee Village is a beautiful, quaint village which sets the perfectly charming scenario for your shopping spree.
Centre Commercial Beaugrenelle - Paris, France
Beaugrenelle shopping center next to Seine river
Located in Paris’ 15th arrondissement, this is the place for any true shopping enthusiast. Its modern, inviting design and decoration, thanks to its renovation and reopening just 3 years ago in 2013, makes for the perfect shopping day environment. It is home to many quaint boutiques, ranging from French luxury brands such as Guerlain, International hits such as Marks&Spencer and Tommy Hilfiger, right down to our daily favorites such as Zara and Mango, and many, many more. There are 100 different shops to roam through, of all different kinds and sizes. It has a great selection of restaurants and cafés to stop for lunch or coffee, most of which offer spectacular views of the river Seine. Its glass exterior makes it the perfect place to hide from a wet, raining day while cozily listening to the rain hitting the glass far above your head.
Halle de Lyon - Lyon, France
Although a slightly different kind of shopping, the Halle de Lyon is nevertheless a shopping stop you certainly do not want to miss out on when visiting this vibrant city. France is not only famous for its luxurious designer and fashion, but also for its exquisite haute cuisine, which should, under no circumstances, go unappreciated. The Halle de Lyon is the city’s legendary indoor food market, with over 50 food stall, shops and restaurants showing off some of France’s finest delicacies and scrumptious dishes. Whether you are looking for a bite to eat while roaming around taking in all the sights and scents, looking for high-quality ingredients to take on the adventurous task of cooking a fabulous French dish at home, or searching for the perfect gift to take back to those waiting for you at home, Paul Bocuse's Halles de Lyon will delight your senses and leave you craving for more. Read here for some incredible tips on French cuisine.
La Part-Dieu Shopping Center - Lyon, France
Although perhaps not the most historic or cultural city attraction, it continues to be a significantly large one in the city of Lyon, and is the place you want to go to get some serious shopping done. With over 300 shops, restaurants and cafés, La Part-Dieu Shopping Center is big enough for you to get list in, and perfect to spend a rainy day, or to hit all of those brilliant stores that you just can’t get enough of. It is currently known to be the biggest downtown shopping center in Europe, and since its opening in 1975, it seems to be in a constant state or growth and expansion.The location also offers exclusive events and sometimes exhibitions, and seems to change with each visit. It is if extremely easy access, located right next to the Lyon train station of Part-Dieu.
Las Arenas - Barcelona, Spain
Bullfighting arena transformed into Las Arenas shopping center
Simultaneously shopping center and important landmark, this is a place in Barcelona you will definitely want to visit - whether you enjoy shopping or not! (Also perfect if you want to go shopping but are with someone who doesn’t!). Once a former bullfighting arena from around 1900, it experienced its last bullfight in 1977, and became truly obsolete when the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting from the region in 2010. In 2011 the Arena reopened as a brand new shopping center, renovated on the inside, but keeping the traditional and beautiful exterior.
But that is not even all, aside from being in a superb location, directly in Plaza Espanya, making it extremely easy to reach and walking distance from some of Barcelona’s most magnificent sights, the most sensational part of this shopping center lies not inside it, but on top of it. Catch the elevator to the top floor of the mall, where you will find a beautiful rooftop terrace and lookout point, with a few restaurants and cafés, offering breathtaking 360º views of Barcelona’s dazzling Plaza Espanya roundabout, the Magic fountain and the gorgeous MNAC (The National Art Museum of Catalonia). All this on top and around, and over 100 shops to chose from on the inside. Surprised that bullfighting is banned in a large area of Spain? Here are some other stereotypes for you to disprove on your travels!
Portal de l’Angel - Barcelona, Spain
Portal de l'Angel street
Though not a shopping center per say, it is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets and most beloved shopping spots, lined end to end with all kinds of shops of Spain’s favorite brands. Stretching from Plaza Catalunya, through the Ciutat Vella (the Old City), ending at the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. It the perfect place to stroll around on a nice day, soaking in the architecture and culture of Barcelona, while hopping from shop to shop. You will anything from clothing and fashion, to books, sport equipment, cafés and street performers, many beloved brands such as Zara, Massimo Dutti, Benetton and others, along with one of Spain’s favorite luxury department stores, El Corte Inglés.
Príncipe Pío Shopping Center - Madrid, Spain
This once train station now turned shopping center is one of the best places in Madrid to spend the day getting your shop on. Formerly known as the Estación del Norte Railway Station back in the 19th century, it was later renovated to become as we know it today, maintaining is spectacularly majestic exterior. It combines the old-fashion style of its previous life with some modern aspects of decor and architecture, making an impressive home for the countless shops, restaurants, cafés and movie theatres that reside within it.
It is very central in Madrid, making for the perfect place to get some shopping in before you return home.
Palacio de Hielo - Madrid, Spain
Though perhaps not the shopping center with the largest amount of shops per se, this is one of the top places you will want to go if you find yourself in Madrid with your kids, or just looking for some indoor, rainy day activities. Complete with an Olympic-sized indoor ice skating rink (and one of the only places to practice indoor ice skating in Madrid) - and hence its name The Ice Palace -, a bowling alley and cinema complex, along with the many shops and restaurants, it makes the perfect place to have some indoor fun for people of all ages and tastes, with something for everyone!
So what are you waiting for? Stop daydreaming about all the amazing things you could buy and make your dreams come true - book your Renfe-SNCF en Coopération train tickets today!