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Ski Shops To Visit in Europe

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I will be visiting Europe this summer and I thought it would be neat to hit any ski shops that might be open or even go to any Sporting Goods stores that carry skiing apparel.  I'm not really interested in ski equipment as much as I am in jackets and/or pants.  I'm slowly falling out of love with Patagucci (great warranty but I have had to exercise it on almost everything I've bought from them) and would like to get some more solidly built items.

 

 We'll be visiting Rome, Venice, Lucerne, Paris and London.  I'm guessing like here, most of them will be closed the end of July and early August, but also like here, some are still open.

 

I know this is kind of vague but since some of you live there and others have been there, thought there might be some insight to be shared.

 

Thanks,

Ken

post #2 of 27

Mammut, Schoffel, and Berghaus are some excellent European brands available in the US. Having been in a few ski shops in the Chamonix area I could tell you they are just like American shops, with the same variety in quality. There are plenty of other US brands besides Patagonia as well. Surely there are better ways to spend your time in Europe (like standing in line for 4 hours to get into the Vatican Museum or the Louvre), or was this trip not your idea? BTW--if you haven't been before, research ways to avoid the lines, like making advance reservations or buying museum passes that allow you to bypass the ticket lines--Rick Steves is particularly good on the subject.  

post #3 of 27
While in Paris you might want to visit Au Vieux Campeur, by Sorbone/Latin Quarter. It is French version of REI, and there are multiple shops scattered around neighborhood - because stores spaces are very small by American standards. Basically, each department has its own store in the neighborhood, kind of fun walking around. Great selection of European ski brands and outdoor/mountainering clothing and supplies. they are open year round and do have a store dedicated to soft goods as well as another store selling skis, bindings and boots. Be aware of VAT tax refund, it basically entitles you to 20% tax refund if you are taking goods out of the country. there are some requirements, like you have to spend 175.01 Euro in one stor/one receipt. Show your passport, the store will issue a receipt which you present to customs at your last exit from the EU and they will refund appropriate amount to your CC.
Little more work by yourself and you can get 20% back, if the store process tax refund for you they would keep about 5%. Still great value, especially with Euro being so weak to the US Dollar.
Just example of some prices after VAT refund: Norrona Lofoten Anorak Gore-Tex shell, Backcountry price (sale) $412.50, paid about $230 in France.
post #4 of 27

Locals like GM know best. One option is to pick your favorite brand - go to their website and look for store locations and dealers, good way to find what you want. Personally, I would recommend Vuarnet (French), Dainese, Kappa and Vist (Italian) for apparel, nothing comes close but this is very much a different strokes for different folks kind of thing. Websites a good place to find your favorite 'poison' to don.

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

Mammut, Schoffel, and Berghaus are some excellent European brands available in the US. Having been in a few ski shops in the Chamonix area I could tell you they are just like American shops, with the same variety in quality. There are plenty of other US brands besides Patagonia as well. Surely there are better ways to spend your time in Europe (like standing in line for 4 hours to get into the Vatican Museum or the Louvre), or was this trip not your idea? BTW--if you haven't been before, research ways to avoid the lines, like making advance reservations or buying museum passes that allow you to bypass the ticket lines--Rick Steves is particularly good on the subject.  

 

I know there are plenty of great brands Stateside but I figure if I'm going to go there, I might as well get something out of it for me and I kid of like the idea of having something different than most everyone else.

 

This year is our 25th Anniversary and why we're going.  She's put up with me this long without asking for much.  She said she wanted to do a European vacation and I figure it's the least I can do.  Through the military (retired) we're signed up for this tour and they take care of everything to include bypassing lines.  My plan is to do nothing but relax and not worry about anything.

post #6 of 27

Europe = VAT tax, ouch!

post #7 of 27

You get your VAT Tax back at the airport when flying home Jong.  https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/vat-refunds

post #8 of 27

Thanks Rick Steves - forgot.  Yup you can get the VAT back at the airport, good call!

post #9 of 27
It actually takes some time to get tax refund posted to your CC. Store issues a receipt, customs stamp it on your last exit from the EU, you mail stamped receipt to tax authority and they refund about 14% to your CC. I do not know how cash purchases work, always preffer to use CC for multiple reasons.

Note if you travel to multiple countries, you would have to verify/stamp your receipts at the last point of exit from the EU.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by goranmilos View Post

It actually takes some time to get tax refund posted to your CC. Store issues a receipt, customs stamp it on your last exit from the EU, you mail stamped receipt to tax authority and they refund about 14% to your CC. I do not know how cash purchases work, always preffer to use CC for multiple reasons.

Note if you travel to multiple countries, you would have to verify/stamp your receipts at the last point of exit from the EU.

 

I never had to mail anything... the couple of times I've done it, I've found the VAT refund office at the airport I was leaving from and got refunded on the spot.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Does VAT stand for Vacationing American Tax?
post #12 of 27
Yes, certainly a possibility. The lines for tax refund at certain airports could be atrocious.
The possibility of tax refund presents additional savings option for American travelers visiting and buying goods in the EU.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Does VAT stand for Vacationing American Tax?


Actually, it's what American's don't have to pay.

post #14 of 27
.... Of you could order stuff through telemark-pyrenees.com and call it good, no VAT added for shipping out of the EU... Then just go to Chamonix and soak up the culture, the mountains, etc... and don't worry as much about the shopping as scoping out things for a winter adventure. smile.gif
post #15 of 27

This is a weird thread. I just got back from the States, where I made a point of making my usual swing through REI, Campmor, etc. Even with the weaker euro, shopping for outdoor gear in the US is still cheaper, and for the most part stores in Europe are smaller with less selection. Online is OK here (I like Sport Conrad a lot), but nothing matches the scale and competition (eg, lower prices) you'll find on the Internet Stateside. 

post #16 of 27

Be careful with 'dealer locator' buttons on brands' websites. They will point to any dealer they have on file that sells that brand, even if it's just a key chain. 

 

Many shops have their entire assortment online, and you can check if they have the articles you want before you go and visit them. A simple e-mail is also a possibility. Just about everyone in Europe speak or at least understands English.

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

This is a weird thread. I just got back from the States, where I made a point of making my usual swing through REI, Campmor, etc. Even with the weaker euro, shopping for outdoor gear in the US is still cheaper, and for the most part stores in Europe are smaller with less selection. Online is OK here (I like Sport Conrad a lot), but nothing matches the scale and competition (eg, lower prices) you'll find on the Internet Stateside. 

That is somewhat correct, and displays consumers desire to obtain items either not readily available or affordable in base country/continent.
While selection and pricing of NA based brands here in the US is great (Patagonia, OR, Arc'teryx, NorthFace, Columbia) these brands are notably more expensive in Europe. Reverse applies - I found brands like Norrona, Rab, Eider, Peak Performance to be cheaper in Europe while in NA these brands are more expensive. It also depends on locality, time of season, ongoing sales etc. Internet pricing is somewhat similar, but it is a great fun to go shopping and/or just browsing while abroad.
I met a New Zealander in France that was buying a lot of stuff claiming everything is at least double in NZ. I guess they are on their early season full retail pricing about this time of the year.
post #18 of 27

Norrona or Rab would probably be cheaper here, at least more available. Having said that, I tend to buy US brands anyway due to superior warranty performance, but that's another thread. 

post #19 of 27

There's one problem though... most of winter stuff is not in stores in July/August, so you will have serious problems locating some of winter clothing/equipment at that time... even in places like Chamonix, and I would say it's pretty much mission impossible to find something in bigger cities (Rome, Venice, Paris, London..).

Otherwise whenever I was in USA, I had same feeling as Prickley wrote... outdoor stuff feels much cheaper in USA, then it's here, even if euro is weak, so I wouldn't count on much of shopping on this side of ocean :)

post #20 of 27

The only places around the London area that will have ski stuff in the summer are the shops at the indoor ski slopes. The closest one to London is the one in Hemel Hempstead I think. It's probably not worth the trip though, unless you really want to see a straight WROD that's only a couple hundred feet long and entirely enclosed in a box.


Edited by CerebralVortex - 4/20/15 at 3:39am
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies/info. I understand the low odds due to the logistics of this, it being during the summer months and what I expected (earlier post). Since I don't see me making this trip again any time soon, I figured I would at least try. If it doesn't work, c'est la vie. If it does, great.

I might get to a shop and decide not to buy, or not even make it to a shop since I'm not in control of all my time there. I would hate to go all the distance, an not even try.
post #22 of 27

I've long complained about lack of winter stock in shops over here between, say, Easter and end of summer. Have to say, though, the situation wasn't that much better in the NY area last week. 

post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Thanks for all the replies/info. I understand the low odds due to the logistics of this, it being during the summer months and what I expected (earlier post). Since I don't see me making this trip again any time soon, I figured I would at least try. If it doesn't work, c'est la vie. If it does, great.

I might get to a shop and decide not to buy, or not even make it to a shop since I'm not in control of all my time there. I would hate to go all the distance, an not even try.


When I've traveled in Europe, it's always seemed a significant hassle to locate specific stores and to get to them -- and that's with a car.  

 

If I were you, traveling alone, it would be worth the hassle. But since you're not traveling alone, but with your ski widow — I mean, wife — it might be best to leave it up to chance encounter (one husband to another).  

 

(Of course, you can stack chance with prior research, and "stumble across" the right shop when you're out and about:  "Oh, look, Hon, there's a Paradis du Ski, right next to the Arc de Triomphe.  Do you mind if I pop in there a sec?  It's right there, next to l'Occitane.  Take me five minutes.  Why don't you pick out some soap while I'm in there."  And then, if your wife is like mine, you can say, "Wow, I just got this Norrona Lofoten Anorak Gore-Tex shell, which Backcountry had on sale for $412.50, for only $230!)

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lakespapa View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Thanks for all the replies/info. I understand the low odds due to the logistics of this, it being during the summer months and what I expected (earlier post). Since I don't see me making this trip again any time soon, I figured I would at least try. If it doesn't work, c'est la vie. If it does, great.

I might get to a shop and decide not to buy, or not even make it to a shop since I'm not in control of all my time there. I would hate to go all the distance, an not even try.


When I've traveled in Europe, it's always seemed a significant hassle to locate specific stores and to get to them -- and that's with a car.  

 

If I were you, traveling alone, it would be worth the hassle. But since you're not traveling alone, but with your ski widow — I mean, wife — it might be best to leave it up to chance encounter (one husband to another).  

 

(Of course, you can stack chance with prior research, and "stumble across" the right shop when you're out and about:  "Oh, look, Hon, there's a Paradis du Ski, right next to the Arc de Triomphe.  Do you mind if I pop in there a sec?  It's right there, next to l'Occitane.  Take me five minutes.  Why don't you pick out some soap while I'm in there."  And then, if your wife is like mine, you can say, "Wow, I just got this Norrona Lofoten Anorak Gore-Tex shell, which Backcountry had on sale for $412.50, for only $230!)

One of the best days I've had traveling was spent trying to track down all the Caravaggios in Rome--not so much for the paintings, although I'm a big fan--but because of the journey through the center of Rome. You could have the same sort of experience trying to track down ski shops. Mind you, this was on foot in a small area.  And on the subject of the Arc d'Triumphe --the cool thing is to stand on top and watch the cars negotiating the traffic circle--in France the default right of way is priorite a droit--priority to the right-- which means that unlike here (or at least unlike truckee) cars entering the traffic circle have right of way over those already in it.The French seem to manage it without crashing but I wouldn't try it myself.

 

And for those who are reading this and are foolish enough to rent a car to drive through the countryside of France--some key points--1) if you are driving on a major highway chances are the priorite a droit will be suspended for the small intersecting roads, but you have to look for signs that tell you that 2) if you see an enormous red sign with white print--all in French of course--and a big slash through the whole thing, good luck figuring out what the sign says but most likely it means you are about to die 3) Renault's were not designed to drive 130 kph but they do anyway 4) you don't understand the meaning of tailgating until you have driven in France, and that's in the slow lane 5) a Viking goes to Valhalla if he dies with a sword in his hand, a Muslim goes to heaven if he is martyred in jihad, a Frenchman goes to heaven if he dies behind the wheel of a car, and finally 6) Belgium is worse  


Edited by oldgoat - 4/21/15 at 9:32am
post #25 of 27

Back in the day I found a pair of Rossi B3's at a great price in a shop in Plovdiv, Bulgaria of all places. But we were travelling by train, thumb and taxi at the time, how was I going to get them home? 

post #26 of 27

I was a lecturer so my skiing was restricted to College holidays. I want at Easter most years and would always tour the ski shops in the resort towards the end of the week looking for the signs saying "Liquidation total"  or "Chiusura vendita". I got some amazing bargains with 90+% reductions.

 

 I am still skiing in a Goretex jacket marked down by about 90%

 

But the best find of all was a stash of Authier skis which were supposedly factory GS skis and all black topsides.  "Too long, too stiff and no colour so we never sell them" the shop owner said.

 

10 yes ten euros a pair. I was travelling by train and had a big ski bag so bought 4 pairs.

 

It is also worth visiting the large chain supermarkets early in the season as they often have ski stuff at prices that are a fraction of the resort prices. This was back in the 80s and I don't remember the exact prices but I bought a pair of knock off moonboots at a tiny fraction of the price of a genuine pair in the resort. They lasted for years.

 

BTW am Scottish.

post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Scccoooooooooooorrrrrrrrre!

In Italy, we were never in a place that had ski gear that I could tell.

In Lucerne Switzerland, we got there on the weekend and close to us was a mountaineering store but it was closed. Didn't help that it was August 1st which is there equivalent to America's July 4th. Besides, Lucerne charges you for everything and I mean everything! Highly doubt I would get a deal in a tourist trap.

In Paris we drove by by the Au Vieux Campeur, but I never had time t get back there.

First day in London we go to Little Dubai, I mean Harrods (I do NOT belong in that store). I did find find some Canada Goose (Timberline) that looked great but there was no way I was paying 600 GBP (about $900 U.S. ) for it. Figured I give them a look when I got back to the States. Day two in London my brilliant daughter finds a Designer Outlet about 45 minutes away. Because of the Strike for the Tube it was a full hour away but they had a Helly Hansen Outlet. We got an Uber car and headed out.

They had the HH Mountain Odin which was in my top 3 jackets to get for only 200 GBP!!! It's usually $600 U.S. And I've only seen it down to $475. $300 is less than the Pro deal that you can't get for this jacket (seems to always be out of stock:dunno). I checked every which way to make sure it was a defect or made for the "Outlet" Stores and it is legit. The fit is great and I even got the insulator that is from the same line. That too was less than half the price. I would have gotten the shell pants too but they only had 2L and I need 3L.

We're heading back home tomorrow and I'm one happy camper yahoo.gif They even threw in a pair of HH Sunglasses (not my style) which are way over priced but will work well for cutting the grass and throwing snow.

Life is good,

Ken
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