5pm: It’s for the female citizens of Ashrafieh, the time for shopping that coincides with the one when all workers leave their offices!
Between the tiny streets and ancient stairs that provide ingenious shortcuts, it's a real pleasure to shop and to have a quick look at shop windows.
The most striking phenomenon is perhaps the variety of stores and shops along these lines in the area. Looking at the windows of big brands that are practically numerous over here, one might think that Ashrafieh is one of the world capitals of fashion such as Paris, New York or Milan.
Rita, 43 years old in charge of communication, lives near Sodeco
"What I love about this neighborhood is looking for oriental jewelry I can offer to my foreign friends. I can find in the area charming little boutiques that sell necklaces and rings at affordable prices that suit all budgets.
For a memorable gift, I went with my husband to the shop of a well-known Lebanese jeweler, also installed in the neighborhood. It was to offer a jewel to my daughter for her 18 years old birthday. "
This contrast between big brands and smaller boutiques presents a practical undeniable aspect for shopping: everyone will find necessarily what suits both his taste and budget. It also gives the area an unsurpassed charm in the capital.
Sandra, 19 years old is living in Karm el Zeitoun, "What I love about shopping in Achrafieh is that I can dream, while looking to dresses of great designers, completely unaffordable to me ... and rush into cheaper shops, where I can find some nice items at affordable prices!"
Another great place for shopping: is the mighty ABC. This shopping mall has decided to open its doors in Achrafieh in a new branch, after its first branch in Dbayeh. It attracts tourists from around the world including Arabs who come to Lebanon to enjoy a holiday of shopping.
On the 60 000 m2 surface, there are over 200 shops dedicated to international and local brands, as well as to entertainment and leisure centers for youngsters and adults.
In Sodeco, Tabaris, near Sassine or even near the Sofil center, you can spoil yourself with a tasty dessert entering luxury pastries that have settled there.
Lina, 48 years old, housewife living in Sioufi said, "When my husband and I decide to have dinner at my friend’s place, I always buy desserts. Patisseries in the district offer all sorts of temptations, but I'm a fan of the Strawberry cake! And of the Ashta ice cream as well. What I like here is the chance to get the food delivered home, thus avoiding endless queues in case of busy schedule.”
In Accaoui, the Lebanese Artisanat offers a wide choice of gifts for Lebanese and tourists seeking souvenirs to their friends abroad. Items combine the expertise of artisans to the creativity of designers, enabling the perpetuation of traditions (with contemporary hookahs, abayas, the embroidered linen, or even coasters containing prints of cement tile used in traditional Lebanese houses ...)
Lovers of art and antiques can also find what they like: going from Sodeco reaching Tabaris, "the antiques district" has stories to tell, paintings and furniture to reveal. It owes its name simply to the number of antique dealers who came to settle there since the 50s until today.
It gathers everything that can satisfy lovers of artworks. Some antique dealers, who have established their shops just below their homes, admit that the antique shop is the place for meditation.
Ladies can have a glimpse on the latest ready to wear collections of the season. Or even hit a small photography shop, where they can buy a highly refined camera, performing on their way in few minutes time, photos of identities that can still be used for unexpected administrative papers.
It is also in this area that we can find whatever we want in terms of culinary art utensils, or find wonderful treasures hidden in the antique shops that evoke names of the past.
In the streets of Ashrafieh, you can also take a look at the latest collections of fine lingerie, children's wear or wedding dresses.
As for literature, bookshops are also part of the commercial activity of Achrafieh, here small bookstores open alongside great modern ones. Next to Sassine Square, you can spend the whole afternoon going from one bookstore to another and skim through the latest novels of the greatest writers in all literary styles. The latest editions of all major international or local publishers are distributed here. You can find the biggest classic Western novels or even some chef d’oeuvre of Arabic literature. This company is more specialized in works of art. Others for example, go for school books or even children's literature. These are also bookshops where you can find local and international press.
Michel, a 40 years old engineer says, "Every morning, I have the same ritual, I go to the bookshop on my way from home near Sassine Square to buy a newspaper which I’d read later with a cup of coffee in hand for a break during my day."