Is Diptyque Cheaper in Paris? is part 2 in an ongoing investigation. Please also see Is Sézane Cheaper in Paris?
Short answer: absolutely yes. Here’s by how much.
Diptyque candles come in two primary sizes: small and Classic. Something that will make this article fairly brief is that each size has an equally standard price, wherever you purchase your luxury candles: Small Diptyque candles are 70 grams, with a burning time of around 20 hours, and cost $42 USD and 38€. Classic-sized Diptyque candles are 190 grams, with a burn time of around 50 hours, and they’re $74 or 58€.
Is Diptyque Cheaper in Paris? Yes! But Also in the US
So let’s do some math. Just to start with, these are not cheap candles. Per gram, a Classic Diptyque Feu de Bois, for example, costs 38 cents. A small Diptyque Feu de Bois costs 60 cents per gram! That’s already a sizable difference — you can save 37% just by splurging on the larger candle. And of course, the savings are more pronounced if you buy the largest-format available: I’m not sure the day will come when I spend $430 on the very large format, 1500 gram Feu de Bois, but if I do, I’ll only (“only,” lol) be spending 28 cents per gram and saving 53% versus the small Diptyque or 26% versus the Classic. (TBH, I thought the savings at that size would be even greater.)
And Now We Go to Paris
Now, to dig into the France-USA shopping divide. As we know that the euro has been “worth” more than the dollar for a while now, it’s plain to see that they’re cheaper in France — you don’t need to do heavy math to see that 58€ will be cheaper than $74. But let’s dig in. At this very moment, 58€ is $61 (with an exchange rate of 1€ = $1.07 (a rather low euro!)). So from this baseline, you’re saving about $13 per Classic candle, or about 17%. (For the small candle, it’s closer — 38€ is $40, or about 4.8%. Again, it’s clear from the numbers without doing much math, but it’s interesting how much more of savings you’ll see buying the Classic size (again, 17%) in France versus the small (just under 5%).
One thing we haven’t accounted for is fees. If you’re using an American credit card (or euros pulled from an ATM and an American bank), you’re most likely paying fees for foreign transactions. These will usually add about 3% to your purchases — so when you pay for a candle costing 58€, you’re not paying exactly that amount in dollars but that plus three percent — so in this case, not $61 but an extra $1.83. Factoring that in, you’ll still save money buying this candle in Paris, just not quite as much as we originally calculated: 14.86%.
Of course, there’s one more wrinkle to consider here, and that’s the refund of the value added tax, which permanent residents of non-EU countries are eligible for. The amount of the refund varies depending on the category, but the standard rate is 20%. Diptyque runs their VAT refund scheme through Global Blue — you just need to spend a minimum of 101€ at the shop, request a Tax Free Form in the shop, and validate it at the airport. Depending on how much you’ve spent it may or may not be a good use of time. In this case, you’d need to buy two Classic candles to meet the spending threshold — here’s how it all shakes down for a US consumer paying with an American credit card charging three percent transaction fees, and with today’s exchange rate:
Worst case scenario for two Diptyque candles in US: $148, plus 9.29% state/local sales tax (that’s the highest possible rate in the US, in Washington state). This comes to $161.74.
Average case scenario for two Diptyque candles in France: 104€ + 3% transaction fees – 20% VAT refund = 91.37€, or about $97.
Which is a very substantial savings of 40%!
One big note: I used “average case” here because the credit card fee can go all over the place, and I’m writing this while the euro is quite low relative to the dollar. Let’s take another look at the math, with a hypothetically weak dollar. If we rdo the math but the euro’s now at its five-year high of $1 USD = 1.23€, the savings would drop, to 31%, with a total expenditure on two Classic-sized candles of about $111.
And thus resolves our investigation of Is Diptyque Cheaper in Paris? The answer, clearly, is yes.