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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.

Tips for buying Louis Vuitton in Paris and crunching the numbers to reveal what the actual savings can be.
A Recent Louis Vuitton Purchase in Paris

Louis Vuitton Paris Stores: Which to Choose?

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 17 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 at the Champs Elysees store.

I have also had a similar relatively-crowd-free experience at the Galleries Lafayette Louis Vuitton location.

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

Tips for Buying Louis Vuitton in Paris

Because of the savings, the Louis Vuitton stores in Paris 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.

Know Which Handbag or Accessory You Want

Because the staff is extraordinarily busy, try to know in advance which Louis Vuitton handbag, wallet, and accessories you intend to buy.

There isn’t really the time or staff bandwidth for you to labor over a decision. They will run out of patience. You will feel rushed, and there is nothing worse than buyer’s remorse on a big purchase.

Call a Louis Vuitton Paris Store for Prices and Stock

I would highly recommend calling a Louis Vuitton store in Paris to get stock and pricing information to 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 and wanted to buy a replacement before flying home. Thankfully, Louis Vuitton is cheaper in Paris than it is in the United States.

When I arrived in Paris, I accessed Louis Vuitton’s U.S. site to see prices in USD. I did this by typing in the U.S. site’s address (us.louisvuitton.com), but you can also use a VPN on your computer set to any American city if you keep getting routed to the French site.

Next, I called the Avenue Montaigne store to ask if they had a Zippy Wallet in stock. 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 even in advance of your trip. This way, you can estimate your savings before you go (in my case, it was about 30% on the wallet).

Shop with Your Passport

Bring your passport to the store. Otherwise, you will not be eligible for the VAT (value-added tax) refund. They need to take your passport details from your actual passport at the time of purchase. Copies, in my experience, will not suffice.

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
  • Any applicable foreign exchange fees (on credit cards or any fees paid to convert cash)
  • The estimated amount of VAT refund

How the VAT Refund Works

VAT is a consumption tax that 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.

Louis Vuitton Stores Fill Out the Paperwork

If purchasing in a Louis Vuitton store, they’ll fill out the VAT refund paperwork and have you sign it in the correct spots right there in-store at the time of purchase. This is incredibly helpful and why you must have your passport with you.

If you are shopping at Galeries 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. This way, you avoid processing at the airport.

Process the Refund at the Airport

This document needs to be processed at the airport before your international 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. The last time I passed through CDG airport, many people were doing the latter as the kiosk wasn’t recognizing their forms.

Either way, after receiving a digital or manual stamp, seal your form in the provided envelope and drop it in the designated box. Await your refund. Mine usually takes several weeks.

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

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 USD $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.

More Tips for Buying Luxury Handbags Overseas

I very rarely buy handbags at home, because I know that they are cheaper overseas.

Timing Is Everything

The amount of money you save is largely dependent on the exchange rate. As of the time of this post update in December 2021, the euro is at 1.21 dollars which means my savings would have been slightly less though still worthwhile.

Arrive with Prices Loaded if You’re Undecided

If you don’t know which handbag you’d like to buy, it helps to have prices in your home country pre-loaded onto your smartphone when arriving at the LV store.

This way, you can check what price the Louis Vuitton items you’re considering retail for at home.

I say pre-loaded because I’ve had a hard time getting cell phone reception in some Paris stores including Louis Vuitton. One less page load, can save time.

If you can’t access your home country’s Louis Vuitton website, try using a VPN set to a city in your home country. But, make sure it’s set up before heading out to shop because, like I said, the sales associates are busy.

Check Customs Duty Requirements When Returning Home

You may have to pay a customs duty upon returning home if what you purchased abroad exceeds what you can 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 tough 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. Please don’t take my word for it. Always check before you go as things change anyway.

Use Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees

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.

Customizations Take Time

One of the fun things about buying Louis Vuitton handbags right now is their ability to be customized with fun travel stamps and initials.

If you plan to customize, buy the handbag at the beginning of your trip. However, if initials will take too long, remember that Louis Vuitton offers complimentary hot stamping on any authentic item regardless of when you purchased it.


More Resources

If you are touring in Paris, see my Paris Pass vs. Paris Museum Pass comparison as a sightseeing pass does help save money for handbags.

I have also purchased a Goyard Saint Louis in Paris recently. See also Is it Cheaper to Buy Goyard in Paris and Duty-Free Hermes at the Istanbul Airport.

I also have a post about why I love my Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM.

Though me, you have access to value-added amenities at many five-star Paris hotels that you would not be able to secure on your own. These perks may include complimentary breakfast for two, hotel credits, room upgrades and more.

*The desktop version of Virtuoso.com is where you’ll search rates and book online. If you don’t know how to enable this on a mobile device (tap the “AA” in the search bar on Safari or three dots on the bottom of a Chrome screen), send me your dates. When searching rates on Virtuoso, do not input children ages 17 and under as they will be priced as adults. I’m notified when you book and will add them when I contact you about your reservation.

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37 thoughts on “Is it Less Expensive to Buy Louis Vuitton in France?

  1. 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? 🙂

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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?

  5. 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!!!

  6. 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?

  7. 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 ?

    1. 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.

  8. 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

    1. 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.

  9. 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?

    1. 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!

      1. 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?

        1. If she is US and lives in France she will, but if she hold French passport she will not get it. To do tax refund need to use passport of country you live and it has to be different from country where you buy goods. Hope it’s help.

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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 .

  13. 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

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

  15. 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

  16. My fiancé wants a bag that is on the EU website but we live in the US. I called the US customer service, but they indicated even if I call Europe they will not ship international? Any advice? Model #M489132

  17. Thanks for posting this! Really helpful! Just a quick question, I had my friend bought an LV wallet for me in Paris but forgot to ask her to have it stamped. Will it be possible to have it stamped at the local LV shop in my country? Also I happen to lost the receipt as well. Would really appreciate it if you can help with this. Thanks!

    1. I am just seeing this so apologies for the delay. I had mine stamped without a receipt in San Diego. I had purchased it in Paris. However, I was also buying another bag so they did both at the same time.

  18. I just bought a white Artsy MM in Madrid for €1490 – €204 tax. With the exchange rate at $1.08 this comes out to about $1389 if there is no fee to process the tax rebate. As I walked back to my rental apartment I swear to you Someone was following me. I was in a crappy neighborhood and noticed someone out of the corner of my eye. I stopped and turned and he stopped and pretended to be on his phone. I walked a bit more and went into a store and made it home, I am convinced he wanted that shopping bag.

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