Include Galerie Lafayette in Your Paris Itinerary
It was my birthday February 14th. The winter day was beautiful and sunny, even warm. And we were going to visit the flagship store of Galeries Lafayette. This was my first visit to the worldwide famous shopping center in spite of my numerous trips to Paris. I guess I just didn’t consider a shopping mall worth of spending fraction of my precious time in Paris. Oh, I was so wrong!
The beautiful architecture fascinates me. Even more – old architecture makes me imagine the times and the way of life people had in this past years.
That’s why it was no surprise that I felt in love with Galerie Lafayette instantly, vigorously and forever. I like shopping but I’m not addicted to it. I get quickly tired of entering shop after shop, looking at the beautifully displayed goods and trying to decide either I need this beautiful blouse or not. It is really exhausting!
Not in Galerie Lafayette. I hear you asking ‘why’? Well, the answer is that Galerie Lafayette is not just a shopping center. It is an institution, an artistically designed space that enchants with its architecture.
The first thing you see after entering the store is “Miss Dior”. Oh la la! It is so French! Everything in this place smells, looks and feels so French! The amazing architectural details and the abundance of shopping treasures make you feel like a small girl in a candy shop – you want to have it all!!!
The domed roof of Galerie Lafayette in the 9th arrondissement in Paris looks like inside of the box for jewelry. The decoration in style Art Nouveau still enchants the myriads of visitors. Opened in October 1912, the idea behind this store was to create a ‘luxury bazaar’ that “wows the crowds”.
More than one hundred years later, this store still makes you stop breathing. The stained glass windows are in Neo-byzantine style and give the whole place a unique look. There are so many decorative details in the gallery, each of them with its beautiful uniqueness. A lot of floral decoration but also patriotic elements lay on the dome. The coats of arms that you can see are representing the ten cities that had an important place in the textile production one century ago.
The idea of these amazing arched balconies probably came from the opera. Looked from the first floor, the gallery looks like opera house, not a merchandise store.
Universe of Colors and Scents
At the moment you enter Galerie Lafayette, you will find yourself in a universe of colors, glitters and scents. The ground floor is a home to all perfume and beauty products brands that we connect with the French style. Dior, Chanel and others are sharing the place with their main competitors – the Italian Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.
On the next floors you will find clothing and accessories so elegant and well arranged that it will look as you are in a museum, not in a shopping store.
Although I didn’t like the chaotic layout of the shops, the overall look was exactly what the initial idea was – a luxury bazaar, a place where you find too much temptation.
Galerie Lafayette is known as an upmarket store. That means that it is expensive and many visitors are just window-shopping, not really spending money in its premises.
However, this is not always true. Often you will find discounts and you can buy a beautiful garment with a very good quality on an absolutely acceptable price.
Galerie Lafayette – Past and Future
The success of Galeries Lafayette is due to two things – its location and the audacity to keep updating the business at every moment. As you will see, the gallery is located in a proximity to the Opera. It is a busy region of Paris and easy to reach by metro.
From the beginning, the owners of the store understood that in order to make an impression on the clients and have distinctive value, they need control on the products they sell. Like that was created the private label, Galeries Lafayette. Soon after that they started to sell ‘fashion for the masses’ with huge success.
From 1958 till now another big success among the clients is the 3J day when discounts up to -50% are offered.
For five generations now the Galeries Lafayette is a family business. Probably this is the reason that makes it different and sustains its initial ideals to keep the fashion trends accessible to all. They also try to preserve the architectural heritage of the group Galeries Lafayette by creating Heritage Department. You can take the chance to participate in the guided tours of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann by contacting the department. The tour’s duration is 45 minutes and is organized for 10 to 20 people. To make a reservation send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, surname, contact details, the number of people interested in taking the tour and the period of your availability.
In the past one hundred years, Galeries Lafayette became much more than an upscale department store. It is expanding and developing with every year. There are few more galleries now – in Berlin, Dubai, Milan, Casablanca, Beijing, and Jakarta. And although they don’t have the glamorous look of the department store in the 9th arrondissement in Paris, you surely can get the initial idea behind the brand – promoting the novelties in the upscale fashion design and making it accessible to the masses.
I loved the time spent in Galerie Lafayette. It is a remarkable place, soaked with history, elegance and bourgeois feel. An important part of the French business and fashion culture, there is no doubt why it is named as the second most popular tourist attraction in Paris.
ADD TO PINTEREST
Have you been to other special shopping stores that are not only about business but also interesting as an artistic and historical site?