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When searching for the most popular handbag in Paris, we had our work cut out for us. There was a wide variety of styles and brands, both from French handbag designers and others, but they all had a few things in common – they were functional, beautiful, and well-crafted.
Although we didn’t conclude that one particular handbag was more popular than all the rest, certain luxury brands and tote bags did stand out after seeing them worn by multiple French women (and men). Read on for a list of the 27 best handbag styles and brands that we spotted in France to bring a final touch of timeless elegance to your looks.
1. Polène Béri
Polène was by far one of the most popular designer stores in Paris. No matter when we walked by one of their Paris locations, there was a line out the door to enter the store.
A little bit about Polène’s history – it’s a relatively new designer brand, having only been formed in 2016 in France by three siblings. The leather bags are designed in their Paris studio, with leather sourced exclusively from Spanish and Italian-certified tanneries. Their designs are known for creative folds, draping, and organic shapes.
The Béri design is one of Polène’s most recognizable. It features a beautifully unique shape with soft edges and supple leather. The craftsmanship is thoughtful and features a magnetic clasp and gold hardware. Plus, it’s versatile – it can be used as a handbag, shoulder bag with a shoulder strap, or crossbody.
Saddlebags like Sézane’s “Claude” were one of the most popular styles that we saw worn by women across Paris. Saddlebags are recognizable by their half-moon shape, the simple design featuring a fold-over flap, hardware typically in the center of the bag, and a shoulder strap.
Their name is also reminiscent of their original use – worn on horseback, bike, etc. Fashion meets function in this versatile, timeless bag that is just as useful as it is beautiful.
Sézane crafts their “Claude” handbag in their Italian workshop with crocodile-embossed leather. The French brand offers the bag in six stunning colors, whether you prefer a neutral style or something brighter. We stopped in one of Sézane’s boutiques in Paris, and I have to say, these bags are even more beautiful in person! Plus, they can hold more you think – and who doesn’t want that in a purse?
Goyard is another well-known French luxury brand with a long, storied history. In fact, the story of Goyard bags goes all the way back to 1792, when Pierre-François Martin created Maison Martin (Maison means “house” in French) – specializing in box-making, trunk-making, and packing.
And it turns out he was ahead of time when it came to skilled artisans – the 19th century would bring a boom in demand for these types of products. And Maison Martin had something special, honing his craft on the delicate art of garment folding and packing.
Fast forward to 1853, when talented apprentice François Goyard took over the business and renamed it “Maison Goyard.” And if you’re wondering about how the iconic Goyard bag print (or canvas) came about, that’s thanks to Francois’ son, Edmond. When he took over in 1892, he created the pattern that references the log drives conducted by his ancestors in the shape of a Y – the central letter in the Goyard family name.
People around the world commend Goyard as one of the best French handbag brands. Plus, every Goyard boutique we passed had quite a long line – meaning that their popularity is definitely not waning! And with good reason – the Goyard Anjou PM Bag features quality leather, and strong handles so that you don’t have to worry about packing the tote with everything you need for the day. Plus, it’s reversible, giving you twice the looks for your investment.
Structured box-style bags are also another favorite of Parisian women. This style is a great choice to keep your purse organized – it’s often easier to keep your things neat inside of it, rather than rummaging around a less-structured bag in which things often shift around and end up on top of each other. The structured look also lends itself well to more formal occasions, in addition to everyday wear.
The Milo has a shoulder strap for crossbody wear, making it very wearable for doing a lot of walking through the city. It features a leather exterior, cotton lining inside, and a zipped pocket and patch pocket on the interior. Plus, the brass hardware offers an elegant shine to the simple design.
Speaking of other Parisian-originated French luxury brands, Saint Laurent is another one of those household names with a long history in the city. Saint Laurent (sometimes known as YSL and previously known as Yves Saint Laurent) is a French luxury fashion house. Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé founded the French brand in 1962.
If you like to keep things light (literally!), this wallet-style bag is the perfect solution. Wear it as a clutch, or with the chain over your shoulder. The luxury handbag has built-in spaces for your credit cards, change, and cash, with a separate pocket meant for your other essentials like your sunglasses, phone, or keys. This style also comes in various colors and features the well-known YSL logo on the front in gold hardware.
When you think of French handbags, a Chanel is probably one of the first to come to mind! In 1910, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel opened her hat shop, Chanel Modes, at 21 rue Cambon. Over 100 years later, one of Chanel’s most famous boutiques stands just down the street at 31 rue Cambon.
Because the French luxury brand is nearly synonymous with the City of Lights, it’s no surprise that we spotted plenty of Chanel bags being worn. One of the most popular styles is the quilted pattern on the Chanel Lambskin model. It features the classic design in quality leather, with the addition of the double c’s in gold hardware – standing for Coco Chanel, of course. Even if this bag is more than you would like to spend on one piece, keep reading for similar styles that you may love just as much.
The Celine Triomphe is one of my personal favorites that we spotted in Paris – in addition to other classic Celine designs, like their well-known belt. It may surprise you to learn that the brand originated in 1945 as a children’s custom shoemaker. The brand originated in Paris in 1945, begun by Céline Vipiana and her husband.
This is another version of the popular box-style bag. It features an adjustable shoulder strap, so you can wear it crossbody or on one shoulder. And of course, the highlight of the bag may be the beautiful gold triomphe clasp hardware. This bag is great for organization as well, as it features more pockets than most in this style – three inner compartments, one inner zipped pocket, and one inner flat pocket.
Hermès is most likely near the top of the price tier for French purses. The French fashion designer is one of the most recognizable names in the fashion industry for their coveted bags: the Birkin bag. Hermès has had a presence in Paris since 1837, when the harness-maker Thierry Hermès opened a workshop in rue Basse-du-Rempart. Now, six generations later, the brand is synonymous with luxury bags.
In 1930, Hermès first designed the bag pictured below. However, it wasn’t until 1956 that it was renamed the “Kelly” bag, named for the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, after she was photographed carrying it. Since then, the Kelly has been a staple in the world of iconic handbags. With its luxurious leather design, and classic top handle and hardware, this is a designer handbag that many dream about.
Looking for an alternative that is similar in design, but under $50? Here’s one from Amazon.
Color-blocked bags were also a common sight to see in Parisian street style. Parisians aren’t afraid to incorporate color into their wardrobe, and an accessory like a purse, scarf, or socks is an easy way to do that.
If you tend to lean toward more neutral bags, the Kate Spade Katy in cream and leather could be the perfect solution. There’s still the same visual interest with the contrast of the cream leather against the brown, but while maintaining a neutral appearance. This is the perfect bag to pair with a capsule wardrobe.
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Mid-Range Handbags ($75 – $200)
If you love the look of the Celine Triomphe bag but aren’t looking to purchase a haute couture piece, the Edie Italian Leather Bag from J.Crew is a great alternative. It’s made with Italian leather and cotton-twill lining, with an interior pocket.
It has the same box-style design, with a sleek exterior and classic hardware. This style also comes in various colors to fit your taste. Plus, it can be customized with your monogram to make it that much more special.
This bag is the epitome of quiet luxury (without the luxury price tag). If you’re looking for an everyday tote that could also double as the ideal work bag, this is the perfect solution.
It’s one of Madewell’s best-sellers and is rated as a great value for its quality. Whether you live in a big city or you’re on the go, it’s perfectly sized to hold your laptop, water bottle, phone, wallet, and keys.
Bags don’t have to be considered “luxury goods” to be beautiful and functional. And this is a great bag, for a great price, under $200.
If leather isn’t your style, there were plenty of other fabric choices and styles that we spotted on the streets of Paris. For instance, suede was a popular choice when it came to the best handbags.
If you’re looking for something a step down in size from a tote bag, this bucket tote is the perfect solution. It has a slimmer silhouette but is just as deep to hold everything you need for a busy day. Even with the slimmer design, it can still hold up to a 15″ laptop, water bottle, phone, wallet, and keys.
Crossbody bags or sling bags were also a popular choice in Paris, just as they seem to be here in the United States. If you’re looking for an elevated way to wear the style, try this version from Everlane.
Rather than nylon, this one is made with organically sourced prickly pear cactus. If you prefer not to purchase genuine leather bags and are looking for a sustainable alternative, cactus leather is a cruelty-free, sustainable material without any of the toxic chemicals, phthalates, and PVC that conventional leather has.
Longchamp is another well-known French luxury brand, albeit one with an arguably more attainable price point than most. We came across more than one of the Longchamp nylon canvas backpacks, which are a great bag if you’re looking for comfort first and foremost.
The two straps on the pack help with weight distribution, over the alternative of a shoulder bag or crossbody bags. Plus, the nylon fabric means that it’s easy to wipe clean if it gets wet or dirty.
Although Kate Spade is a New York-originated brand, this shape of bag was a popular style across Paris. The 90s are having a comeback right now in fashion, and it makes sense that this style of bag is also having a resurgence, after becoming an iconic symbol of 90s handbags.
This bag features recycled nylon, which means it’s another sustainable option that will handle daily wear and tear with ease.
Besides the more typically-shaped handbags, there were plenty of more unique options as well that Parisian women wore on their shoulders.
For example, longer-shaped bags like this rectangular one were another favored choice. It’s the perfect medium-sized bag, made with 100% leather and a 100% cotton interior.
Parisians love quality, natural goods, and this raffia tote bag is the perfect choice for a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, or maybe in the Jardin des Tuileries. This piece is comprised of 90% raffia, 10% genuine leather, and 100% pure cotton.
Its large size makes it the perfect choice for holding a bottle of wine and some afternoon snacks. Plus, it could even fit another handbag inside it for ease of carrying.
Western style was everywhere in Paris – both in stores and in the street style! This bag has elements reminiscent of the traditional American Western style that add a fun element to a classic wardrobe.
The braided edges, leather material, and saddle bag style make for a great bag to ease into the Western trend.
Handbags Under $75
Tote bags were everywhere in Paris. Beauty meets function in shopper-style totes like this one from H&M. If you’re looking for the look of leather goods without real leather prices, this faux leather offering is for you. Parisians often carry a lot with them when they leave their home for a day out in the city, and this style of bag ensures they can carry everything with ease.
This shopper tote bag features two slim handles, a zipper at the top for extra security, and an inner zipper pocket. There’s also a layer of lining inside the bag, which helps extend the bag’s life and ensures it will withstand the test of time.
Speaking of tote bag inspiration, you’ll love this jacquard weave version from H&M. If you love the look of the Dior Book tote but logos on products aren’t your thing, a bag like this is the perfect solution.
The material resembles the look of the book tote without being as recognizable as the trendy piece. Plus, this version is much more spacious! It also features an inner lining, and a zipper pocket inside for things you want to keep extra secure.
A straw shopper is a must-have accessory for warmer weather! Finding green space and bringing along an afternoon snack is the perfect way to enjoy a sunny day in Paris, and the parks we passed in the city were always full.
A straw shopper like this one is the best bag to pack your favorite picnic blanket, cheese, and baguette. Plus, it features a shoulder strap for extra ease.
If you like the looks of the quilted Chanel crossbody bags but aren’t ready to make that kind of investment in a bag, this alternative from Amazon is the perfect solution. It features a similar quilted stitching and pattern, in a small body that’s ideal for a night out.
The chain strap allows you to wear it over one shoulder or as a crossbody bag – whichever is your preference. This simple design has withstood the test of time with its timeless elegance and can be dressed up or down, no matter the occasion.
23. Canvas Tote Bag
Believe it or not, simple canvas tote bags were heavily favored by Parisian men and women! Not only are they very affordable, but there are so many different colors, patterns, and prints out there to make it your own.
For example, this Van Gogh print has a slightly vintage feel and is perfect for the art lover. There is just about any print out there that you could want, and Amazon has a ton of options under $15.
This mini shopper features a classic style with a simple design. We spied smaller bags like this more often at dinnertime. It’s the perfect size to fit everything you need after freshening up, dropping off your packages of the day at home, and grabbing your phone, wallet, and maybe a lipstick for the rest of your night.
A shoulder strap is a must if you’re walking long distances, and this bag has a detachable one. It also features an interior zippered pocket for safekeeping.
This bag offers a slightly more vintage feel and would pair well with your favorite classic outfit. The envelope-style design is reminiscent of an academia aesthetic, but would add the perfect unique touch to all kinds of looks. It’s also a clean look, if simplicity is something you look for in the best handbags.
The faux leather bag features gold hardware, interior lining, and an inner pocket.
Here’s another crossbody with a vintage-inspired design, the perfect size to fit all of your necessities. It comes in a wide variety of colors, and the front pocket is designed especially to fit most smartphones so you don’t have to dig through the rest of your things to find it.
27. Puffer Tote Bag
This puffer tote bag is the perfect solution for rainy Paris days. Plus, this is an excellent travel tote as it’s easy to wipe clean. It has plenty of room for a laptop, book, or other travel items. Plus, the quilted pattern adds a unique element that will make your bag stand out.
So, What’s the Most Popular Handbag in Paris?
While I won’t pretend that I can name one bag as the “most popular” in all of Paris – there are certainly common themes that can be found in these 27 bags. Beauty and function are certainly two seemingly equally important characteristics in the bags that Parisians wear. And it makes sense!
When you’re choosing to save for a new handbag, you want to find one that fits the needs of your daily life – not the other way around. And with a list of 27 beautiful bags to choose from, maybe you found exactly what you’re looking for in this post!
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