Haussmann & Co: shopping in the department stores of Paris
Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Bon Marché, La Samaritaine, BHV Marais… Each one of these establishments has become much more than just a shop. Heaven for fashion lovers and shopping fans, they never cease to attract fashionistas from across the world
Les Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
As an icon of French fashion, Galeries Lafayette in the 9th arrondissement attracts around a hundred thousand customers every day. The establishment extends across 65,000 m², which makes it the second largest shop in the world after Macy’s Herald Square in New York. But while the Americans can compete in terms of scale, in the hearts of fashion addicts they are no match for Paris.
Within the walls of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, anything seems possible. Beneath the impressive Art Déco dome, customers search to and fro for that unique item. In this history-steeped setting, the ballet of sales staff makes the shop look like fashion’s answer to opera. Galeries Lafayette features 3 buildings and a selection from over 2,500 brands ranging from affordable to luxury. It also boasts the biggest shoe department to be found in Europe.
After creating the Go for Good label in a move towards more fairtrade and sustainable products, Galeries Lafayette has launched its (Re)Store. Located on the 3rd floor of the main building, this section specialises in vintage, second-hand and responsible fashion items. So treat yourself without the guilt!
Paris is proud of its reputation as the fashion capital. The city is also a worthy representative of French gastronomy. Which is why Galeries Lafayette Haussmann also has a selection of restaurants. You’ll be spoilt for choice among their classic dishes, gourmet meals, brunches and quick snacks.
Fun fact: In 1919, Galeries Lafayette Haussmann challenged the pilots of France to land a plane on the store’s roof. Jules Védrines rose to that crazy challenge. He succeeded, and won the generous sum of 25,000 francs. Enough for quite a shopping spree.
Le Printemps Haussmann
Let’s stay in the 9th arrondissement. Not far from Galeries Lafayette stands its main rival, Printemps. The building is a listed historical monument and houses the great names in luxury such as Givenchy, Vuitton, Chanel, Isabel Marant and Balenciaga. For fashion enthusiasts, the shop also offers a selection of brands to follow such as Mossi, Bao Bao Issey Miyake and YCH.
At Printemps Haussmann, shoppers will find 45,000 m² of elegance. In addition, there are sections for menswear, homeware, perfume and cosmetics and the very popular 7e ciel. As you’ve guessed, this section of Printemps is on the 7th floor. It is the biggest section devoted to luxury vintage items and fashion designers that you’ll ever find in a department store.
Not forgetting French gastronomy which takes pride of place in the Printemps du Goût section, with its fine foods displays and famous chefs corners.
Fun fact: in 1866, the founder of Printemps, Jules Jaluzot, decided to sell off some old stock at reduced prices. He announced that this principle would apply every year at the turn of the season. The sales were invented!
Les Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées
The Galeries Lafayette spirit can also be found on the world’s most beautiful avenue, just a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe.
With its specialist selection of brands from leading names, small fashion houses, upcoming designers and original capsule collections, Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées promises you a shopping experience of a different kind. Smaller than the shop on Boulevard Haussmann — although it’s the biggest on the Champs-Elysées — Galeries des Champs-Elysées takes a more intimist and local approach. It offers a customised service and the sales staff are much more than that. They are real enthusiasts each with their own freely-expressed individual style that makes you want to change your entire wardrobe. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the precious advice they have to offer.
And don’t leave without visiting the extremely mouthwatering food court. Chocolates by Alain Ducasse, sweet treats by pastry-chef Stohrer, seafood from Kaspia’s and many more culinary delights to keep fine gourmets happy!
Fun fact: at Galeries Lafayette des Champs-Elysées, you’ll discover a whole new shopping experience. The store is designed for ease of movement and a harmonious customer experience. Result? The different brands come together, and so do the genders. Neither menswear nor womenswear, but both. After all, when you’re mad about fashion it’s the style that counts.
Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche
The Bon Marché Rive Gauche store can be found in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district of the 7th arrondissement. It was Paris’ first department store to open its doors, in 1852. With the vintage charm of its glorious past, it still oozes elegance and sophistication.
Walking through the different departments - luxury, womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, homeware and beauty - between the specialist and selective ranges is a whole experience in itself. All year round, the store gives free rein to artists and designers to create their own space here. An artistic touch that adds to the uniqueness of this building designed by architect Louis-Charles Boileau and the engineer, Gustave Eiffel. The latter, who was already showing great talent, had not yet designed the tour Eiffel.
Inside the Bon Marché department store you’ll also find La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the uncontested temple of good food where the shelves are packed with sweet and savoury delights from across the world.
Fun fact: Aristide and Marguerite Boucicaut, the couple behind the shop’s spectacular development, are well known for having revolutionised the marketing practices of their era. Among other innovations, they introduced the ‘satisfied or your money back’ guarantee. A particularly new idea that is now among the basics of marketing.
The historical La Samaritaine shop is once again part of the Parisian scene, much to the delight of fashion addicts.
In the heart of Paris, this shop on 8 levels in the 1st arrondissement overlooks the Pont Neuf bridge. Behind the Art Déco façade, past and present unite. The super-contemporary glass architecture blends with the enamelled lavastone Art Nouveau décor.
Since its refurbishment, Samaritaine has gone beyond being merely a shop. It has found its former glory and resumed its place among the department stores of Paris. This key store from the Paris of the Belle Epoque gives pride of place to French brands in luxury names ranging from Dior to Louis Vuitton and lesser-known brands like The Frankie Shop, Maison Kitsuné and In the mood for love.
Samaritaine is a whole experience. Besides shopping, you can sleep there too. The hotel, run by Cheval Blanc, welcomes visitors in search of a 5-star Parisian experience. Within the store’s walls, epicureans can also sample a few culinary delights. The first floor places gastronomy under the spotlight. There are two other restaurants on the top floor terrace. So you can enjoy lunch with the Seine and the Eiffel Tower for company.
Fun fact: Samaritaine is especially well known for its highly original advertisements. Such as the one where a man asks for a pink elephant, “parce qu’on trouve tout à la Samaritaine” (“because you can find anything at Samaritaine”). This quickly became a cult slogan in France.
At an ideal location next to the City Hall, in the heart of one of the capital’s most lively historical districts, BHV Marais has become with the passage of time the ultimate lifestyle brand name and the favourite store of Parisians.
It is loved for its casual, welcoming atmosphere, its lovely homeware section, the strong presence of French brands and the legendary and oh-so-inspiring DIY department. And for the men, head for BHV Marais Homme where all floors are devoted entirely to men’s fashion with everything from streetwear and designer collections to suits and accessories.
For even more shopping ideas, check out our guides!
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- Copyright image: matthieu_Salvaing