Chapter 1: Hermes Versus Chanel Prices in the US and France

Prologue: Shopping in France Adventures
Chapter 2: Louis Vuitton or Chanel – Which is the Better Deal in France?

Let’s jump straight in with our report. We start off the series with our first shopper named Rita. Rita’s story has a surprising twist that led me to studying her case first.

I posed a few questions to Rita about her experiences to give you her perspective. You will need to follow through to the end to understand her twist of Hermes fate.

PB: Did you have a plan for what you wanted to purchase while you were in France?
Rita: Not Really! But, I was hoping to acquire my very first Birkin or Kelly there. I thought there would be more availability in France and that I would have a few color/size options to choose from. We went to 4 different Hermes stores in 4 different cities, and no Birkins or Kellys to be found. Except, one for Ms PurseBop. It was quite frustrating.

PB: Were any purchases total impulse buys?  Were you caught in the moment of shopping in France?
Rita: All of my purchases were impulse buys. I wasn’t particularly swept up in the moment of shopping in France. Well maybe at Chanel Monte Carlo where I purchased my RTW. The champagne that was flowing on the second floor when I arrived to the scene with Mr. and Mrs PurseBop might have influenced me a bit, LOL.

I always intended on doing some damage, in fact quite honestly, I wish I had found more that I loved.  There wasn’t  anything particular I had set out to buy – except a Birkin/Kelly!

PB: Were you pleased with the selection, were you flexible in your choices.
Rita: There was a good selection at Chanel; however, nothing unique. I was expecting to see pieces/choices that the US market would not carry. Unfortunately, I saw the same items that the US stores carry. I was willing to be flexible, just wished there was more to choose from. Hermes was a totally different story. Not a shoe, scarf or clic clac in the size or color way I wanted.


Chanel Fine Jewlery, Monte Carlo (there are 3 separate Chanel boutiques in Monte Carlo: Accessories & RTW, Shoes, and Fine Jewelry.


Champagne and the best CC bags were flowing on the second floor at Chanel Monte Carlo.


Chanel Tote

RegionChanel Tote
VAT Refund (approx. 10%)- €380
Cost after VAT€3,420
US $ Equivalent$3,834

Hermes Birkin 35

RegionHermes Birkin 35
VAT Refund (approx. 10%)- €740
Cost after VAT€6,660
US $ Equivalent$7,464

Chanel Coat

RegionChanel Coat
VAT Refund (approx. 10%)- €499
Cost after VAT€4491
US $ Equivalent$5,034

Chanel Dress

RegionChanel Dress
VAT Refund (approx. 10%)- €449
Cost after VAT€4,041
US $ Equivalent$4,530

(prices serve as guides only and are subject to currency fluctuations; prices do not take into consideration any duties or taxes; US equivalents were calculated based on today’s currency conversion rates)

PB: When it came time to choose, what factors swayed you?
Rita: My girlfriends – of course! I was thinking of purchasing “the gasoline” bag from Chanel’s Dubai collection, but my girlfriends gave it a thumbs down so I didn’t get it.

PB: How satisfied overall  were you with the experience of shopping abroad? Especially in comparison to shopping in the US?
Rita: It was amazing to be in France with our dear friends! The shopping was a bit disappointing. On my high end purchases, I was expecting better prices than the US since the euro was down. There was very little savings on my purchases and packing was a nightmare. Not to mention getting stopped at US customs. It was not worth the hassle.


The Chanel Paris-Dubai limited edition gasoline tank. Pic courtesy @blondieluxe

Total Cost Savings

ItemMoney Saved
Chanel Tote$457
Chanel Dress$370
Chanel Coat$357

So, Rita did not get a Birkin in France. But, you’re probably wondering why there’s a picture a B35 in togo Feu with PHW in the charts above?

Literally 2 days after arriving back from our trip, Rita headed to the city with her hubby to take care of a few things – one of which was having a small repair made at Chanel. Unfortunately, the pocket of her new dress had a tear (not a fabulous feeling after having just spent 5K)!

After running numerous errands, as a last stop that afternoon, they decided to head into Hermes. This was the day after the Hermes MANifeste launch event I attended.

Rita was unsuccessful at picking up several of the smaller H items she wanted in France. In the heat of the shopping spirit, she thought she’d try her luck again. This time on Oak Street.  I must clarify on her behalf that her purpose was sincerely to fulfill her pending wish lists. After seeking the help of a SA and taking care of the ‘less intimidating’ affairs, her hubby suggested she ask the ever looming question – I don’t need to tell you what that is…

Rita told him “forget it, we certainly aren’t not going to get offered one here. If we couldn’t get one in France in 4 cities, what are our chances here?” Irritated with the whole Hermes chase, she stepped aside. Finally her husband spoke up:

“Any chance you have a Birkin or Kelly for my wife? We just returned from France and were unsuccessful…”

“No sir, not at this time, but I’d be happy to get you on a list”

“My wife is and has been on the list for quite some time now…”

“What is your full name sir?”

The SA wrote it down and stepped aside and dissapeared into the back (this is usually a good sign) Meanwhile, Rita rejoined her husband – and I can only imagine the hush hush dialogue between the two. “I told you to ask…” “ I am so over this whole Birkin thing…” “if you don’t ask, how are you going to get one” “I’m doing this for you, can you at least try to look interested and excited…” (I’m guessing many of you can relate).

The SA stepped back in and hurriedly asked Rita, “what would be your first color choice?” She replied “I have always wanted the traditional Hermes orange color. Do you have one”, she asked with a slightly elevated tone? The SA stepped away again. Rita thought to herself, really? Could this be happening… might I finally see the dream of my first B or K? Today, on this random Friday, just 48 hours after I searched high & low for one in France?

A little about Rita: She is no newbie to high end luxury shopping, VCA and Cartier are her thing, nor is she really new to Hermes. She has acquired a few H accessories, scarves, and even recently an Evelyn with me on our girls trip to NYC in May. I also remember her shopping for Oran sandals in Vegas from another girls trip last year. Rita has not however bought consistently from one SA. She is a ‘traveling shopper’ and has picked up Hermes knick knacks from different destinations she visits. She has rarely seriously visited the Chicago store – at least till now!


Rita’s VCA fetish maybe?

“Ma’am I have a lovely Birkin 35 in a blood orange color…” the SA said as she approached the couple with a big orange box in hand. “Would you like to take a look, Rita?” “Why, yes please…” she replied.

I think everything was pretty much a blur after that point because Rita didn’t have much more detail to share with me!!

Hubby was very pleased with himself as their wedding anniversary is this week, and HE scored BIG for HER. Moral of the Story: persistence pays…

Back to some handbag math…

Birkin in the US: $11,900 + $1,220 (tax 10.25%) = $13,120 total
Birkin in Europe: €7,400 – €740 (VAT refund 10%) = €6,600 = $7,464 total
What she could have saved: $13, 120 – $7,464 = $5,656 (~ 43% savings)

Rita’s Conflict:

  • Not finding the Birkin in France caused Rita to miss out on potential big savings
  • She did not save much money on Chanel due to the recent European price increases
  • Given the price parity and the fact that the same items were available in Chicago, perhaps Rita would’ve been better off purchasing her goods at home and being serviced by our local Chanel sales associates

Rita couldn’t be happier with her new B but the truth of the matter  is that scoring the Birkin in France would’ve saved her big money. Hermes, unlike Chanel,  has not raised European prices despite the devaluing euro. With the $11,900 USD price tag along with a Chicago tax rate of 10.25%, Rita ended up spending a total of $13,120. In Europe, the same Birkin retails for €7,400. Along with a VAT refund of 10%, Rita’s B would’ve amounted to €6,600 or $7,464. When we do the math, if Rita found her Birkin in France she would’ve saved $5,656. Suffice to say, this is a shocking price difference. When it comes to Hermes and shopping in general, what you want often certainly outweighs the numbers. But the numbers, now that we see them so starkly, do put the pricing situation in perspective, and encourage us to think long and hard about when and WHERE we buy our bags.

Bring your questions & thoughts to BopTalk

Stay tuned to the #pursebopsinFRANCE series as it unfolds, this is only the beginning!

Love PurseBop


Published: October 3rd, 2015
Updated: May 18th, 2017

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5 Responses to “Chapter 1: Hermes Versus Chanel Prices in the US and France”

  • OMG what a HUGE Birkin price difference ? A Boy could’ve been purchased with that difference ? But I think Rita did well in keeping that gorgeous B even though it’s much more expensive than in FR… She’d regret for life if she had gone all Elsa from Frozen and “let it go” ??. As for Chanel, the price differences aren’t so big, but when you sum everything up, she had quite a considerable saving ? Perfect post! Congrats Rita on your amazing purchases ???❤️?

  • I loooovvve the blood orange… I could only hope they’d have an electric blue with gold hardware, and find me ‘worthy enough’ to pay $7k+ on one of their bags… I’d be willing to part with several of my own for one at a European price. I imagine Italy would be even less – their vat is what, 22%? That would be the find of the century! Anyways, beautiful B. Love it! thanks for sharing :)

  • What a beautiful story and awesomely wrote. I read with such intensity. I felt and understood Rita’s excitement when she was near having a brand new Birkin. I would have loved savings more than 5k buying from France but I have also read so many failed stories. I am truly happy for Rita and also I would have told her to forget about the gasoline bag. Lol. ❤️❤️❤️ Btchannel

  • Love this story! I felt exactly like Rita when I was in Paris couple months ago. I had my little twist of Hermes fate as well. I had the expectations of splurging on a bag on my trip. I bought couple of stuff but nothing took my breath away. I was naive and thought maybe, just maybe I would be one of the lucky ones to be able to pick up a Birkin or Kelly on my trip(wishful thinking). My boyfriend and I traveled to Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome and we stopped at every Hermes store but no B or K to be found. I picked up a wallet in Florence and also saw the Jypsiere black in calfskin but decided to pass on it hoping(praying) I would find B or K in Rome, even though I knew the odds were against me. After texting my bestie back and forth about my Hermes visits and talking to my boyfriend about the Jypsiere, I started to feel like did I make a mistake? If felt like “the bag that got away” feeling. Crap! I was in trouble. Once I got to Rome, we went straight to the Hermes store but they didn’t have anything. So we went back the next morning and I asked the same questions and of course got the same o answer No B or K. But this time I also asked about the Jypsiere in black. I really didn’t want to go back to the states without a Hermes bag.The salesperson said she’ll check which felt like forever. She came back asking questions that I don’t quite remember. But nevertheless, when she came back with the orange box in her hand….I was holding my boyfriend’s hand. It was like we were waiting for the stork to bring us our baby. Gawd and we aren’t even married. He was excited as I was. That orange box still had the plastic wrap around it and when she pulled the bag out of the box, it was a black Jypsiere Clemence(even better). I just said “Yes, I’ll take it”. The salesperson didn’t even have to put the straps on it to show me nor did i have to try it on. I also picked up a twilly and when I went to pay for the bag, my boyfriend said he would pay for the bag because it was his birthday gift to me. He said he knew getting the bag for me would make me very happy even though it wasn’t a B or K and this whole Hermes adventure has made him appreciate the bag. The Jypsiere is now our baby=)
    Sorry for the long post. I just got excited and wanted to share.