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My textbook has a sentence which reads,

Le samedi matin vers onze heures, j'adore retrouver mes amies pour visiter les magasins et les boutiques de notre centre-ville.

On Saturday mornings, around eleven o'clock, I like getting together with my friends to visit the shops and boutiques in our downtown.

Is a boutique just a more upscale version of a magasin? Is it the same distinction that we have here in America between shops and boutiques?

5

Magasin has several meanings and is generic when referring to shops while boutique is more about small and often specialized shops.

Technically, the magasin is more the back-end storage area while the boutique is the front-end store on the street. The magasin of a shop is still sometimes called its arrière-boutique.

Note that these words come from foreign words both originally meaning "storage area":

  • Boutique comes from the greek ἀποθήκη "apotheke" so boutiquier and apothicaire are related.

  • Magasin comes from the arabic مَخَازِن‏ "makazin"

  • Je comprends. Merci! – ktm5124 Sep 27 '17 at 21:03

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