Most of you are too young to remember this, but back in the twentieth century it was customary for department stores to consist of – departments.
If you were looking for, say, men’s trousers, all you had to do was take a deep breath, enter the store, find your way through a maze of perfume and jewelry counters, and then somewhere near the escalators you would find a big sign with a list of ‘departments’, all with generic names. With any luck, there would even be a department called ‘men’s trousers’ on one of the upper floors, and when you got up there you would find some floor space where they were indeed selling men’s trousers of various sorts and sizes.
Of course in the twenty-first century no self-respecting store would want to be organized in such an anachronistic way, certainly not the Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann behind the Opéra Garnier in Paris.
To start with, at the Galeries Lafayette they don’t sell clothing, they sell fashions.
In the main building there are several huge floors devoted entirely to women’s fashions. Each floor has a name, like Mode Créative (Creative Fashions), Mode Tendence (Contemporary Fashions), Mode Séduction (Seductive Fashions) or Mode Évasion (which they translate as Leisure Fashions).
The one about Évasion sounds funny to us English speakers, since evasion is one of those words that have negative connotations in English but mainly positive ones in French. In English we tend to think of tax evasion or breaking out of prison or finding some devious way to avoid answering an embarrassing question. But to the French the same word can also mean being entertained, relaxing, traveling, having a change of scene.
The seduction floor is also interesting, because it implies that we men are extremely hard to seduce, so they need a whole floor of seductive fashions just to get us into the mood.
Under each floor name there is a list of brand names, about twenty per floor. These are no doubt prestigious and awe-inspiring brands that make any true shopper’s heart beat faster in anticipation. Of course it is assumed that everyone knows what sorts of products are sold under each brand name.
Men’s fashions, by the way, are relegated to a separate (smaller) building across the street. This is presumably to get us out of the way, so we won’t interfere with the serious shoppers. But in the men’s store everything is also strictly organized by brand names. You won’t find a ‘department’ called ‘men’s trousers’ – although there is a Jeannerie, where they sell jeans, on the floor called Mode Sport.
Second photo: Corner view of the main building. On the left you can see an enclosed pedestrian bridge leading across the street (Rue de Mogador) to the smaller building for men’s fashions. Inside the pedestrian bridge they have expensive watches for sale.
Third photo: Inside the main building of Galeries Lafayette is a stunning art deco rotunda from the year 1912, under an equally stunning glass cupola.
Fourth photo: Looking up at the cupola.
Fifth photo: The upper balconies under the cupola.
Next review from July 2013: Roof of Galeries Lafayette
Quite a few people ask about being in fashion in Paris. Paris, like any large city, covers all possibilities of fashion from baggy jeans on teen boys to Chanel suits on women "of a certain age" and everything between.
Keep in mind that in Paris people are usually going to work or are tourists and those are two different wardrobes. Another thing to consider is the time of year. Paris definitely has four seasons and plenty of rain. You will be taking public transportation and doing a lot of walking so my first suggestion is comfortable shoes, even if you don't think they are truly stylish. When you are in pain from pointy-toe high heels, you won't care about style. If you have to be stylish, get cute little ballet flats for spring and summer and flat-heeled boots for fall and winter.
I have no department store photos so will substitute a clothing boutique in Nice and a restaurant in Paris for photos. You will have to eat lunch . . .
BTW, one of my favorite places to shop when I've forgotten something is the Marché St. Germain, a covered shopping market with everything from food to clothes to pharmacies. We often stay near there and it's very convenient . . . and has clothing boutiques if you're looking for clothes.
What to buy: Clothing: Best suggestion is don't worry about it. Take something to get you through a couple days and plan to buy your clothing in Paris. If you buy it there, it is in style there. Not only that but you have some marvelous souvenirs and wonderful conversation pieces when you get home.
Here are two really fun department stores where you can see what everyone is wearing and hopefully find something in your budget. The Galleries Lafayette is worth a visit just to see the inside of the store. It is soooooo French and just beautiful.
Galeries Lafayette Department Store
Printemps Department Store
For the truly budget minded there is Monoprix or Tati but that's another Tip.
What to pay: You can find choices in nearly any price range. If you are buying in Paris, I'd recommend buying something very classic and paying as much as you can. You will be able to wear it forever . . . and will see some Paris matrons wearing their 1960 Chanel suits that look as though they were purchased yesterday. Classic is classic.
On the roof of the big department store Galeries Lafayette (main building) there is a popular observation deck where you can look out over the rooftops of Paris and of course see the Eiffel Tower. Just in front of the Eiffel Tower you might recognize the greenish roof of La Madeleine and slightly off to the right the big glass roof of the Grand Palais.
Since the store is only slightly higher than the surrounding buildings, the views are not spectacular, but they are still interesting and they are free. Anybody can go up there and have a look around, even non-shoppers like me. There is a guy selling coffee in cardboard cups and a young lady selling frozen yogurt with various kinds of fresh fruit.
The roof is covered by a sort of green spongy carpet that feels vaguely like a lawn, so people feel comfortable sitting on it or walking around to look at the views.
The folks in my first photo are sitting in the shade because it was quite a hot day when I took the pictures.
Second photo: As you can see, the roof is fairly large, so there is plenty of space for everybody to sit around or walk around.
At the west side of the observation deck there is a plaque explaining that in the early twentieth century the Galeries Lafayette promised to pay 25,000 francs to the first pilot who managed to land a plane on their roof. In 1919 a pilot named Jules Védrines succeeded in doing this. He was given the 25,000 francs but only could keep 24,984 because he had to pay a 16-franc fine for flying over Paris, which was illegal, and for landing in a forbidden area.
Third photo: The back of the Opéra Garnier, which is right across the street from the Galeries Lafayette.
Fourth photo: Looking down at the staff entrance of the Opéra Garnier. The little traffic circle in the foreground is called Place Diaghilev, named after the Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929), founder of the Ballets Russes.
The street to the right of the opera house is Rue Scribe, named after the French dramatist and librettist Eugène Scribe (1791–1861). He was the author or co-author of the libretti (the text) of numerous then-famous operas such as Auber's Fra Diavolo and Meyerbeer's Robert le diable, which I had occasion to mention in one of my Brugge tips. Scribe was also the co-author of the text to Les vêpres siciliennes by Giuseppe Verdi, which I have recently seen twice in Frankfurt.
The street to the left of the opera house is Rue Gluck, named after the German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787). I once saw Gluck’s opera Iphigénie in Aulis in Nürnberg, and later his Iphigénie en Tauride right here at the Opéra Garnier with the American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role.
Fifth photo: The outside of the cupola, as seen from the observation deck.
Next review from July 2013: Au Printemps
the epitome of coming to France by many, high capital of fashion if for me a bit pricey. knowing Paris well. It is here since 1912 th its cupola or dome and the store since 1894.
HOwever, there is no denying this is tops, and a visit at least to the gourmet area and the top floor restaurant is a must.
a bit of history
The store open in 1894 at the corner of streets or rue La Fayette and rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin. The store is close to the Opera, grands boulevards, gare Saint-Lazare.
In 1896, the company purchase the building at 1, rue La Fayette ,and 1903, purchase the building 38, 40 ,and 42, boulevard Haussmann , and ,15, rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin. In 1908, the first store is boulevard Haussmannt.
In October 1912, a new store is open compose of 96 ailes, one salon de thé, and one library, and a beauty salon. It has five floors, balcons and a great dome of 33 meter high, In
1969,a new store for men's clothing was opened at the other side of rue de Mogador.
In the story continues in a symbol of Paris and France in fashion to the world.
What to buy: clothing and more, wait for promotions or summer and winter sales
What to pay: prices for quality top brands
After seeing photo's and reading about this huge Department store, it was put on my 'see' list in Paris. I wasn't going there to shop, I was going to see a fantastic Department Store.
As I entered the building, I was gobsmacked, wow! what a beautiful shopping centre this was. A look around, and I realized this is an upmarket centre, I thought it would be. Open balconies on each floor, and a stunning Dome ceiling. It really was worth coming here for a look.
Monday through Saturday from 09:30 am to 08:00 pm
Late night opening every Thursday until 09:00 pm
Closed on Sundays
I love, love, love the Galeries Lafayette...its such a wonderful place to shop, especially during the Christmas holiday season.
Galeries Lafayette is a department store that sells everything you could possibly want. From jewelry and accesories, handbags, shoes, women and men's designer clothing, children's clothing, home and house goods, furnishings and anything else you could imagine.
If you happen to be in Paris right before Christmas you'll get to enjoy all the wonderful holiday lights that decorate the store inside and out.
During my last visit I was able to snatch up some excellent children's clothing for my grandchildren. They have adorable stuff and the prices were excellent.
What to buy: Anything, I have purchased some scarves, a hat and some socks (lol). My recent trip had me purchasing children's clothing. I got an excellent sweather and turtle neck for my grandson and an adorable dress for my grand daughter along with matching stockings and sweather. Sweet.
I got 70% off the original price :)
What to pay: Anywhere from inexpensive to expensive
Galeries Lafayette is a department store with old building and nice architecture of the ceiling. All the branded thing are here, from perfumes, bags, cloths, ect. And the best season to buy goods here is when winter sale or summer sale...:)
I like to come here just to admired the architecture of this building.
A man gets a map from Printemps; Gets another one from Galeries La Fayette, and becomes ready to be dragged from one place to the other with 2763 stops in between by his shopaholic wife.
He tries to remember the places, their differences, but... no way. The building is wonderful and it seems to sell everything, but in such a bustle even breeding is hard. And in a couple of weeks I will be back.
With the same stores, and thousands more, because this time we will stay a week. I promise that the 6 visits planned to these galleries will allow me to see, at last, the Invalides and Sainte Chapelle. Well, let's not be optimist: at least one of them!
Hurrah! I DID see both, in my return to Paris. And the galleries once more. Of course!
you can email for info and reservation or phone when in Paris. Its a popular venue so I am told.
the correct email for a response to all question is the customer service at
tel/fax numbers +33
Tél :(0) 220.127.116.11.56
Fax : (0) 18.104.22.168.51
this is for the Haussmann where I shop and cardholder, you have the name on the site of the director Mme Agnès VIGNERON
hope it helps
What to buy: the works, the above is for the Fashion shows on Fridays, reservation required;
What to pay: best brand at good prices if wait for specials days
One of the two major luxury malls in Paris, the other being Printemps. The scarves sold at the shops at the metro station level are cheaper than those right outside the dept store. The place to get cheap nice scarves are at the shops at opera metro station.
What to buy: For one stop luxury brand shopping, so that it is easy to process your tax refund. You can do the administrative work at the detaxe counter at basement (-1 floor) as long as you spend a total of over 175 in a day.
Be warned though, the tax refund will not be in full as Lafayette uses a service by Global Blue which eats up half of the tax refund. If you're buying big-ticket branded stuff that easily amount to over 175euro, suggest you buy it elsewhere and get a better detaxe rate, unless they are using global blue as well.
Get the customs stamp on the forms at the customs detax counter in the departure hall before checking in your luggage. Once past into the transit area, head for the travelex/money exchange/detaxe counter. they will refund you in cash (if indicated on the form that you want refund in cash)
What to pay: Some stuff like cognac eiffel tower souvenir or pop champagne are decidedly a few euros more expensive than what you can get elsewhere. Ditto for the miniature houses by Gault. At 30+euro, it was more expensive than the 20+ euro at other street stores.
Alone the architecture of the building is worth the visit. The goods and the salesmanship of the staff will entice you to buy some stuffs. In the past, I had lunch in one of the restaurants on the 6th floor (I think). Atmosphere was nice.
What to buy: Fashionable clothes, jewelries, accessories, perfumes, shoes, bags, anything you can think of as wedding gift, office supplies. Please check their Website.
What to pay: If you're looking for t-shirts to bring back home as souvenirs, they cost more but the quality is far better than those you can find outside.
I think this is the most expensive department store in Paris.
I liked it because it’s so expensive you don’t even think to buy anything here so there’s no stress :) We actually visited this huge store just because it was near the theatre we would go later.
Ok, what we really liked here was the beautiful building, most of the customers try to take pictures of the building instead of shopping, check pic 1 :) There is also view for free at 7th floor.
If you have Paris Visite card you’ll get 10% discount, of course the final price will still be expensive but just in case you are interested about it.
This is not just another mall. Galeries Lafayette is a beautifully decorated building with decorative glass dome. This is a 10-story department store located at 40, Boulevard Haussmann. The floors are dedicated to fashion and beauty products. I'm not so much into shopping but this world's famous departmental store is a must visit when in Paris. The store stocks all the best designer labels, perfumes, accessories and other products.
What to buy: Men and women's designer collections.
The decor of course, is the first thing you notice in Galeries Lafayette. this is fairytale stuff. The theatre like design on the main floors and of course the spectacular glass domed ceiling. I went there just to see it but then could not resist the urge to have one of those famous red shopping bags to show off, so using the excuse that my first grandchild (a little girl) is due in January, I proceeded to the 5th Floor and had a wonderful time picking out the perfect little designer outfit for her. We had a mouthwatering Tart Tartin and Coffee at the roof top cafe which cost an arm and a leg but hey, how often do I go to Paris? (Only three times this trip, so hang the expense, give the canary another seed!)
What to buy: On my second visit on my last day in Paris, I was lucky to go to Galeries Lafayette when BabyGap was having a 50% off sale, so once again I had a wonderful time on the 5th floor. I also discovered the Gourmet Food Hall which also had me walking around wide eyed and drooling. After consuming a wonderful Ciabatta with Prosciutto and Cheese sandwich, I loaded up with chocolates for the folks at home and sadly headed back to the hotel and the Air France Shuttle to CDG.
What to pay: LOts, but if you're lucky you may find some bargains.
What to buy:
I always visit this store when in Paris just to see what's new....and I always also eat at its nice Cafe on the sixth floor which has the great views of Paris.
Before you buy, get a copy of those brochures about the mall which gives you a $10 discount, on top of the VAT refund. So, that's a good 30% off total!
When I see the inside of this mall, I know I am in Paris. They have nice couches where you can sit and I just dropped on one of them while my 3 year old twins ran around and my wife got lost in the "soldes"...hehehe!
What to pay: depends on what you buy