Is it Less Expensive to Buy Louis Vuitton in France?

Where to buy, how to calculate savings and more tips for buying LV in France

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A burning question on the minds of many luxury goods enthusiasts like me might be whether or not it is cheaper to buy authentic Louis Vuitton in Paris or anywhere else in France. The answer is a resounding yes. The savings on my last handbag was significant so I’ll run through the numbers with you and give you my best tips for navigating the crowds.

Update: I’ve since returned to Paris several times since the initial publish date of this post so have included some further information including a Galleries Lafayette promotion that I have access to.

Louis Vuitton Paris Stores

I purchase handbags and wallets during trips when I can take advantage of savings like this. My first entry into the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs Elysees was about 16 years ago. My husband was so intrigued by the lines of people waiting to get into the store (they were mostly from Japan, at the time) that he started to take video and was immediately busted by LV staff.

Today, there are still lines snaking outside of this particular location because it’s the flagship store. However, the less hectic but still quite large Avenue Montaigne location (near Four Seasons Hotel George V where we stay) is only a few blocks away. On my last trip, I walked right in and bought a handbag within minutes, something that would have taken much, much longer on Champs Elysees.

I have also had a similar relatively-crowd-free experience at the Galleries Lafayette location. Speaking of Galleries Lafayette, I have a great opportunity for a VIP experience and a complimentary Longchamp handbag if you spend 1000€ (including Louis Vuitton).

The bottom line is that unless stepping inside the Champs Elysees store is on your life bucket list, give it a skip if there’s a line.

Tips for Buying Louis Vuitton in Paris

Because of the savings, the stores are very, very busy. And, we’re talking busy with people from all over the world buying as many handbags as quotas will allow. The amount of cash per day spent in these stores must be absolutely staggering.

Because staff is extraordinarily busy, try to know in advance which Louis Vuitton handbag, wallet, and/or accessories you intend to buy. There isn’t really time or staff bandwidth for you to labor over a decision. You will be rushed and there is nothing worse than buyer’s remorse on a big purchase.

I would highly recommend calling a Louis Vuitton store in Paris to get stock and pricing information to help expedite your decision. I had my Louis Vuitton wallet stolen in Venice (by a pickpocket on the ferry, no less) on my most recent Europe trip. When I arrived to Paris, I was able to access the Louis Vuitton’s U.S. site to see pricing in USD. I called the Avenue Montaigne store to ask if they had the Zippy Wallet. A staff member answered the phone right away, checked stock and happily gave me a price within minutes. It was an easy phone call to make so do not hesitate to call one of the stores. This way, you can estimate what your savings will be (in my case, it was about 30% on the wallet).

Bring your passport to the store. Otherwise, you will not be eligible for the VAT (value-added tax) refund.

Factors that Determine Your Savings

Savings on an overseas purchase is determined by the following ever-changing factors:

  • The item’s retail price, including applicable tax, in your home country
  • The item’s retail price, including applicable tax, in the country of purchase
  • Currency exchange rate
  • Foreign exchange fees (on credit cards or any fees paid to convert cash)
  • Amount of VAT refund

How the VAT Refund Works

VAT is a consumption tax that is already included in the price of items purchased in France (as well as many other countries abroad). The rate of VAT varies depending on what you’re purchasing, but the standard rate in France is 20%. However, you will not receive a full 20% VAT refund as a processing fee is deducted from your refund.

If visiting a Louis Vuitton store, at the time of transaction, they’ll fill out the VAT refund paperwork and have you sign it in the correct spots right there in-store. This is incredibly helpful. This document needs to be processed at the airport prior to departure. Kiosks at the airport can digitally stamp the forms or you may wait in line for a customs officer to issue a manual stamp (a number of people were doing the latter as the kiosk wasn’t recognizing their forms). Either way, after receiving a digital or manual stamp, seal the form in the provided envelope and drop it in the designated box. Await your refund. Mine usually take several weeks.

Apparently, you can wait in line to have the refund processed right then and there but I’ve never had time to try this.

If shopping at Galleries Lafayette (who carries Louis Vuitton among other designer brands), it’s possible to have a VAT refund processed in the store which is incredibly convenient.

Louis Vuitton Twinset Handbag by the Numbers

(The calculations below are from summer of 2015 when I bought my Louis Vuitton Twinset and originally wrote this post.)

The price of my bag in France was 1080€ (900€ + 20% VAT of 180€) compared to $1555.20 USD ($1440 retail price plus 8% California sales tax of $115.20).

The amount claimed on the VAT refund is 180€ but due to the processing fee, I received €129.60 as a refund.

1080€ (retail price in France) – 129.60€ (actual VAT refund) = 950.40€ (true price in euros) or $1064.45 USD (at the time the exchange rate was 1.12 dollars to the euro).

$1555.20 (price in US) – $1064.45 (price in France converted from euros to USD) = $490.85 savings.

This means that I saved 31% by buying the handbag in Paris. Not bad.

Galleries Lafayette Promotion (Applies to Louis Vuitton)

If you are visiting Paris before the end of 2017 and intend to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag (or other designer goods), I have a great offer for you!

Those who book their luxury Paris hotels through me will receive a voucher to redeem at Galleries Lafayette which will include:

  • A VIP welcome at the 2nd floor Concierge, main building
  • A complimentary gift of a foldable Longchamp handbag (with minimum purchase of 1000€)
  • Complimentary transportation to your hotel or apartment in Paris (with minimum purchase of 500€) for two people

You will simply present the voucher to the Concierge desk. This is a special promotion that only Virtuoso agents like me have access to, thanks to Galleries Lafayette. You can read the details here.

As a luxury travel agent, I also have access also to exclusive VIP amenities at many luxury hotels in Paris that include complimentary breakfast, room upgrades (based on availability), food and beverage credits, and much more. Here is the easiest thing to do:

  • Visit my Paris hotel page on Virtuoso.com
  • Enter your dates and number of people traveling
  • Room rates and VIP amenities at various Virtuoso hotels will pop up
  • Select the hotel(s) and room(s) you’re interested in and fill out your email address
  • I will be notified and will reply promptly to confirm benefits and booking details
  • I will send you the Galleries Lafayette voucher with your hotel booking confirmation

Some hotels will not display pricing and that’s totally fine. Submit your email I’ll get it for you. One Paris hotel of note, if you enjoy the Opera area, that is offering a particularly great benefit is InterContinental Paris Le Gran. Virtuoso bookings will receive Club Level benefits and other hugely value-added amenities!

Good to Know

The amount of money you save is largely dependent on the exchange rate. As of the time of this post update in August 2017, the euro is at 1.19 dollars which means my savings would have been slightly less, but still worthwhile. Timing is everything.

If you want to check what price the Louis Vuitton items you’re considering retail for at home, make sure you are looking at the Louis Vuitton site in your home country. To save time while in the store, consider preloading your home country’s Louis Vuitton site on your phone before entering the store.

You may have to pay a customs duty upon returning home if what you purchased abroad exceeds what you are allowed to bring back in. For example, U.S. residents are allowed $800 per person, per month if they travel outside of the U.S. for 48 hours. From what I understand, per the IATA (it is very hard to find this information on the U.S. Customs website but if you know the link, I’d love to post it), a family of three can group their allowance for a single purchase of $2400, for example. Don’t take my word for it, always check before you go as things change anyway.

Make sure that your credit card doesn’t charge you an excessive foreign exchange rate fee that will cut into your savings. My American AAdvantage Executive Platinum card doesn’t have a foreign exchange fee, but my business card charges 3%, for example.

I have also purchased Goyard Saint Louis in Paris. See also: Is it Cheaper to Buy Goyard in Paris.

Save this to Pinterest:
Tips for buying cheaper Louis Vuitton handbags, wallets and accessories in Paris, France.

Remember that Louis Vuitton offers complimentary hot stamping on any authentic item regardless of when you purchased it. I also have a post about why I love my Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM.

Happy shopping! If you have tips to share for buying Louis Vuitton in France or anywhere else abroad, please share.

(Sightseeing in Paris? Use Paris Pass promo code AUT17 for up to 10% off the Paris Pass: 6% off 3- & 4-day passes and 10% off 6-day passes through October 31, 2017)

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29 Comments

  1. Maggie Lam
    September 8, 2017 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    i been waiting for VAT from April 18, 2017 still not get it any suggestions

  2. Hanan
    August 18, 2017 at 5:52 am — Reply

    Dear Sir ;
    Kindly be informed that I have buying a bag from Louis Vuiton Vienna at 8/8/2017 , when I have arrived today to Egypt and opened my bag I have found the lock inside the small pocket without the key !!!! The number of the lock is 435 . Please take your necessary action to sent me the key , my address is described on the receipt ( receipt number 784693/270378 ) also my mobile phone number .
    Your quick action is highly appreciated .

    Sent from my iPhone

    • August 18, 2017 at 8:50 am — Reply

      I regret that you need to contact Louis Vuitton directly as I am not affiliated with them. Thanks!

  3. Demetra
    July 17, 2017 at 6:18 am — Reply

    Hi Lajolla

    I leaving for Paris soon and want to purchase my first LV. I’m kind of confused with the conversions. Will it be better to buy Euros or use my credits card? Thanks for sharing your post and experience.

    • July 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm — Reply

      It really depends on the exchange rate you get on your credit card. Also banks can also charge an extra fee to convert currency at the ATM. You can call and find out what it might be in advance of your trip. If the credit card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee for purchases made in foreign currencies then it’s easy to just pay via credit card. That’s what I do.

  4. Anna
    June 13, 2017 at 7:36 am — Reply

    Good day,

    I want to know how to go about if i want to purchase a LV from your Boutique..what are the details and how to go about..i’m from Namibia

  5. Sri sharma
    June 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    Hi I am flying to Paris from USA then taking train to Italy then come back to Paris and fly to India . How can I collect my VAT? Please help me .

  6. Christine
    May 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm — Reply

    We will fly into Spain and end up in the South of France where I know there are LV stores. We will be flying out of Italy. Will I still be able to get the VAT tax credit flying out of Italy? Thanks.

  7. Laura
    December 2, 2016 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    @ Michelle – prices slightly vary across Europe. You should check out this site that compares prices of LV bags globally: http://www.designerbagprices.com; I found it quite useful.

  8. Michelle
    October 20, 2016 at 8:41 pm — Reply

    Is the price the same for all boutique in Europe? I am comparing Paris and Austria. Will it be more expensive to get from Austria? How much more would that be?

    • October 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm — Reply

      As far as I know the price is different in other European countries. I highly recommend calling a boutique directly to find out… they are used to that!

      • Lisa
        June 10, 2017 at 4:43 pm — Reply

        I like to purchase the LV in france, but ask my sister to buy it for me, because she lives in france. When she come here, does she get back the VAT?

  9. Hannah
    October 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm — Reply

    Quick question, I bought a speedy in Paris 5 years ago to take advantage of the exchange rate and VAT. Now I’m headed to Italy and thinking of making another LV purchase. Do the prices listed online for particular countries (ie. LV Italia) include the countries VAT?

    I tried looking up your bag on the France site to determine, but couldn’t find it!

    Thanks!
    Hannah

    • October 6, 2016 at 1:33 pm — Reply

      It should include VAT but you may want to call the store to be sure. I called LV in Paris and they were incredibly helpful. I suspect they’re used to travelers phoning in so perhaps Italy is the same.

  10. SARA
    September 1, 2016 at 9:53 am — Reply

    Hello, your article is very helpful… I have a question to ask: I was checking on LV US Website and LV France Website, I saw one wallet that US has it but not on France. Does it mean French LV Store may not have it ? Also, does the price on LV France Website include the taxes or the VAT tax is added when you purchase it ?

    • September 1, 2016 at 8:31 pm — Reply

      I would pick the store you would go to in France and call to see if the piece is in stock. I just did this last month when back in Paris and the sales associate was very kind. Prices in France include VAT. It’s not like the U.S. where they tack it on at the time of purchase.

  11. JL
    July 29, 2016 at 1:16 pm — Reply

    Do you know how to receive the VAT refund if i am not flying out of Paris but am taking the train back to London and flying out from Heathrow?

    • Neetabeeta
      October 13, 2016 at 11:51 pm — Reply

      You can claim vats at the last European airport or train station. So for you it would be London.

  12. Lynda Pratt Notaro
    June 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm — Reply

    Lynzdesigns
    Thank you for your complete explanation. I was just in Paris
    LV flagship store and purchased a Neverfull. The exchange
    rate explanation and the numbers are almost to the penny
    of my purchase. It definitely pays to purchase in France, particularly when euro is almost same to the dollar. My bag
    is made in France! Not California!! Loved your article!!!

  13. Nayomini
    March 5, 2016 at 4:12 am — Reply

    Hi I came across your site while looking for tips to buy LV bags in Paris. We are going to Paris in August (I can’t wait!) and thought I’ll buy LV there – I already have one but nothing like buying LV in the city of lights itself. Great tips. Thank you.

    • March 5, 2016 at 7:38 am — Reply

      Savings aside, I like to buy bags in other cities. It’s a great souvenir and I think about my trips when I use them sometimes. Have FUN!

      • Christine
        April 12, 2016 at 8:43 pm — Reply

        Hi, came across your article today. So glad! My son studying in Italy this summer and would like to send him shopping for new bag for me! Great tips,. One question : the price on their website includes the tax? And at airport they declare and get it back?

  14. February 9, 2016 at 11:36 am — Reply

    This is such a great article!! My hubby and I are traveling to Europe this summer, so we will definitely follow your tips. I can’t wait to blog about my lux purchases on my website. 🙂

  15. Lissy
    January 28, 2016 at 11:19 am — Reply

    Thank you very informative!

  16. Debbie
    January 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm — Reply

    This is awesome! Thanks so much for the details.

  17. Sanpanda
    December 20, 2015 at 11:47 am — Reply

    Thanks for your comprehensive post on this subject.
    Do you reckon it is safe to walk out of LV Champs Elysees with a few bagloads of LV purchases? Eg vulnerable to robbers?
    Which hotel would you recommend to stay near LV Champs Elysees?
    Thank you 🙂

  18. Sanpanda
    December 20, 2015 at 11:44 am — Reply

    Thanks for yr comprehensive post.
    May i ask in yr opinion is it safe to walk out of LV Champs Elsyees w a few big LV paperbags full of LV pruchases? Eg robbers staring at such shoppers?
    Which hotel would u recommend to stay nearby? 🙂

  19. jolie
    September 20, 2015 at 1:33 pm — Reply

    Thanks for this post. Helps me a TON!!!

    • September 22, 2015 at 1:38 pm — Reply

      I’m so glad to hear it. Happy shopping!

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