1. Paris or Bordeaux, France
Paris is highly regarded as a retail destination and with the French capital an easy hop away by Eurostar, you’d be foolish to miss out on the bargains on offer. The soldes d’été kick off at the end of June and last for six weeks. You’ll find huge discounts to be had on everything from fashion to furniture, with items as much as 70% off. It’s a great time to check out the likes of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Shops in tourist areas are now permitted to open on Sundays and you may even be able to secure free shipping.
If you’re looking for somewhere different, why not try Bordeaux? This Gallic beauty perfectly lends itself to a shopping weekend. Its Triangle d’Or, an area bounded by the Cours de l’Intendance, Allées de Tourny and Cours Clemenceau, is crammed full of high-end stores. Make the most of the sales to pick up those designer goods at bargain-basement prices. Of course, there are plenty of wine shops to peruse as well.
Search and book train tickets. To get the best fares on TGV trains book 3 months in advance and for Eurostar book 6 months in advance.
2. Anvers, Belgium
Overshadowed by the capital Brussels and the veteran charmer Bruges, Anvers is Belgium’s hidden gem. We know it as Antwerp and it’s got to be Belgium’s coolest city. This year, the bargains will be unleashed on Sunday 2nd July and the sales will continue for the rest of the month. If the weather’s not playing ball, you can take refuge from the rain at Groenplaats with around fifty stores under one roof to mooch around. You’ll find the hippest brands in the Wilde Zee district and a walk along the chic Schuttershofstraat will reveal designer after designer – everyone from Jimmy Choo to Hermès have branches here.
To get the best fares on Eurostar book 6 months in advance and your connection 3months in advance.
3. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The largest city in the Netherlands, Amsterdam doesn’t disappoint when it comes to shopping, and it’s a short stroll from the central station to the heart of the action. Unlike in France and Belgium, there are no fixed dates when it comes to sale periods, but you can expect to see the familiar red and white signs in windows throughout June and July. Begin in Kalverstraat where you’ll find a mix of boutiques and department stores before heading to De 9 Straatjes for something a little more quirky.
4. Berlin, Germany
Things kick off a little later in Germany, so you’ll still find the sales in full swing if you’re visiting Berlin in August. Make sure you’ve got your head around the lingo: SSV, or Sommer Schluss Verkauf, means sales, while “alles muss raus” translates as “everything must go”. KaDeWe is Berlin’s big department store and a must for shopaholics seeking a bargain. You’ll find all 60000m2 of it on the Kurfürstendamm.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
If you’re a fan of Scandi chic, then there’s only one place to go and that’s Copenhagen. The main shopping street is Strøget, where you can hop from store to store following in the Danish Queen’s footsteps – Illums Bolighus, Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen all have the prestigious “By Royal appointment” sign above their doors. The discounting begins towards the middle to end of June and usually lasts until August.
6. Milan, Italy
No summer shopping guide could miss out Italy’s fashion capital, Milan. This northern city is the country’s wealthiest, so it’s no surprise that all the designer boutiques have found a home here. This is a great time to do more than just window shop at the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where the big names will knock plenty of euros off their unsold stock. Dates for the “saldi” as they’re called locally are moveable but usually start at the beginning of July and last about two months.
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7. Barcelona, Spain
Our final suggestion if you’re planning to visit the European sales is Barcelona. The sales kick off during the first week of July, and although they last until the end of August, the best variety is to be found the earlier you shop. You should be aware, however, that the discounts get higher the later in the sale it gets, with 70% off by late August in some stores. Some of the smaller shops close for the holidays in August, so you might be disappointed if you’re looking for something a little more unique than what’s on offer in the chain stores. Look out for signs saying “Rebajas” and focus on Plaça Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia or Diagonal if you’re looking for the big international retail brands such as Mango and Zara. For something a little different, try the Barrí Gotic or El Born.
To get the best fares on Spanish trains book 3 months in advance.
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