When it comes to stylish slingbacks, sandals, and stilettos, Paris can't be beat. From the Marais to St.-Germain- des-Prés, we've found 10 of the most cutting-edge shoe boutiques in the City of Light.
THE SHOP The sexy red leather soles from Christian Louboutin (19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, First Arr.; 33-1/42-36-05-31) have been turning heads for the past 13 years. These cult-status heels may be available elsewhere, but devotees visit Louboutin's original jewel box of a store to find special editions and perhaps even bump into the designer himself (his office is just behind the boutique). TOP PICKS Pink Chica Fiora high-heeled, crepe satin slippers with handmade silk flowers ($710); Paname Zeppa sandals ($580) with wide linen straps and straw platform heels.
THE SHOP "Chez moi, it's all about sex, shoes, and rock 'n' roll—I don't do cute," says Rodolphe Menudier. Karl Lagerfeld hired the designer for Chloé back in 1989, after which he had stints at Chanel and other houses before launching his own line in 1994. Just off the Place Vendôme, Rodolphe Menudier (14 Rue de Castiglione, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-86-27), a shoe shadow-box designed by Christophe Pillet, is one of the sleekest spots in town. TOP PICKS Glamour tango pumps ($530) in red-glitter satin with clear Plexiglas heels; for men, white leather oxfords ($425) with orange leather insoles, an homage to Serge Gainsbourg. WHAT'S NEARBY The beautifully wrapped soaps at Annick Goutal (14 Rue de Castiglione; 33-1/42-60-52-82) make fantastic gifts.
THE SHOP Some of the best designers have trained at Charles Jourdan (23 Rue François I, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/47-20-81-28), but it had been decades since the 85-year-old brand was hot. Since February 2005, creative director Josephus Thimister, formerly of Balenciaga, has boosted Jourdan's style quotient and given the label's classic pump a sexy new contour. TOP PICKS Red python sandals with ankle strap ($470); two-tone gray canvas sandals with wooden heel ($350).
The New Generation
THE SHOP Michel Vivien (15 Rue Molière, First Arr.; 33-1/42-96-38-20) is getting all the buzz thanks to raves for his line for Lanvin. Parisiennes flock to his diminutive shop on a little street behind the Palais Royal for ultra-feminine sandals. TOP PICKS Gold metallic pumps with basketweave open toe ($495); red patent leather high-heeled sandals ($410). WHAT'S NEARBY Cibus (5 Rue Molière; 33-1/42-61-50-19; lunch for two $100), one of the tiniest and tastiest Italian restaurants in Paris.
THE SHOP The fashion crowd complains that Pierre Hardy (156 Galerie de Valois, Jardins du Palais Royal, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-59-75) doesn't reinvent himself enough, but his loyal fans keep coming back for perfectly designed shoes. Hardy, who does the footwear for Hermès and Balenciaga, likes clean lines and peep toes. TOP PICKS Gold lizard slingbacks ($845) for women; kangaroo brogues ($630) for men.
THE SHOP Paris's party girls love Bruno Frisoni (34 Rue de Grenelle, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-84-12-30), on the Left Bank, for beautifully made shoes with playful details. Frisoni, who first got noticed as the accessories designer at Lanvin, likes to have a bit of fun with ribbon accents. TOP PICKS Black high-heeled patent leather slingbacks ($615) tied with a striped ribbon bow; cocoa patent leather wedge-heeled sandals ($445).
THE SHOP Stylist Valery Duboucheron's shoe-and-bag shop, Hoses (41 Rue de Poitou, Third Arr.; 33-1/42-78-80-62), in the trendiest corner of the Marais, helped launch Walk That Walk and Avril Gau; it also carries more established labels such as Marc Jacobs. Duboucheron stocks the store the way she would pull together a fashion shoot, offering eye-catching shoes in interesting colors. TOP PICKS To & Co celadon and navy leather high-heeled loafers ($380); Walk That Walk's sleek high-heeled caramel loafers ($380) with contrasting top-stitching.
THE SHOP Italian shoe manufacturer Iris (28 Rue de Grenelle, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/ 42-22-89-81) makes shoes for Marc Jacobs, Chloé, John Galliano, Proenza Schouler, and Véronique Branquinho. So it's no surprise that fashion fiends head straight for the company's store for the world's most complete selection of these brands. TOP PICKS Chloé Mary Janes ($615) with wooden platforms and ankle ties.
THE SHOP Patrick Melloul first opened Biondini (26 and 78 Ave. des Champs-Élysées, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/43-59-11-59) 20 years ago when he noticed that most Paris boutiques had only a meager selection of evening shoes. Today, Biondini is the largest high-end shoe retailer in town, and its three newly renovated shops are frequented by Saudi princesses, industrialists' wives, and starlets alike. TOP PICKS Gianmarco Lorenzi low-cut stiletto pumps ($345); Dolce & Gabbana checked slingbacks with white python trim ($525).
For Men Only
THE SHOP Strategically located near the entrance for in-and-out shopping, the shoe department at Le Bon Marché (24 Rue de Sèvres, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/44-39-82-80) offers one of the best-edited collections in town, with choices—but not too many. TOP PICKS Emma Hope leather-and-velvet high-tops ($370); Dior Homme leather oxfords with perforated detailing ($475).