Chic Outlet Shopping is a great way for travelers to pick up fashionable souvenirs at great prices. // © 2013 La Vallee Village
The term “outlet shopping” has specific connotations to many Americans, including second-rate merchandise and ordinary “shopping mall” environments. In Europe, however, Chic Outlet Shopping villages offer high-end, top-quality fashion at reduced prices as well as a luxury shopping experience in elegant boutique shops.
In addition, the villages correspond with the current season, unlike in some American outlet malls. Rather than seeing bathing suits in November and winter boots in July, shoppers will see the items for the current time of year, but from the previous year’s line. Considering the high prices of European fashion, it’s certainly worth the wait.
What is Chic Outlet Shopping?
Chic Outlet Shopping villages have been popular with locals since the first one, Bicester Village, opened outside of London 14 years ago (even Kate Middleton shops there). Their appeal has recently spread, as U.S. travelers looking to buy European designer brands have discovered that they don’t necessarily have to pay high designer prices.
For example, at Madrid’s Las Rozas Village, shoppers can find discounts on jewelry by the hot Spanish designer Uno de 50. At Kildare Village outside Dublin, shoppers will find designs by Louise Kennedy, one of Ireland's most successful fashion designers, as well as high-end British designers such as Ted Baker and N. Peal Cashmere. Since many travelers to Paris put shopping at the top of their list, La Vallee Village offers access to many high-fashion French brands, including Givenchy, Robert Clergerie and Gerard Darel, without the Parisian price tags.
As an added bonus to U.S. travelers, La Vallee Village is just a 10-minute shuttle ride away from Disneyland Paris, as well as the shops and restaurants of Disney Village (the equivalent to the Downtown Disney District at U.S. Disney parks). Complimentary shuttle service to and from Disneyland Paris can be arranged through the outlet’s visitor center.
Where to Shop
The nine Chic Outlet Shopping villages are: Bicester Village (London), Kildare Village (Dublin), La Vallee Village (Paris), Las Rozas Village (Madrid), La Roca Village (Barcelona), Fidenza Village (Milan), Maasmechelen Village (Brussels), Wertheim Village (Frankfurt) and Ingolstadt Village (Munich). Each one is located about an hour outside of the city center or, in some cases, as little as 30 minutes away. Most are accessible by train, and they all offer a dedicated Shopping Express coach that departs twice daily from a central location in the city center with round-trip service to the village. Shopping Express tickets must be purchased in advance (no later than the day before for morning departure and in the morning for afternoon departure). Chauffeured car service is also available for those who prefer a more luxurious shopping excursion.
All nine villages also offer Shopping Day Experience packages, which include round-trip transportation on the Shopping Express coach, a 10 percent VIP card to be used at all the shops in the Village, lunch in the cafe and a pre-paid gift card. In addition, some of the villages have partnered with hotels and attractions in each city so that shoppers can create their own unique packages. All of the packages, as well as tickets for the Shopping Express, can be purchased online and all are commissionable for agents with a promo code obtained by contacting each village directly prior to booking.
With a required price reduction of at least 33 percent off the previous season’s merchandise from global brands such as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, as well as local designers from the country in which each village is located, a trip to one of the Chic Outlet Shopping villages is an ideal addition to any European vacation.