The department store concept was invented in Paris, and although Galeries Lafayette wasn’t the first, it is synonymous with shopping in Paris. As with Macy’s in New York City and Harrods in London, Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is much more than a place to exercise your credit card; it’s a destination in and of itself. Making the most of your time in Paris as a visitor is important, and there are plenty of ways to do that while at the city’s most iconic department store. Here are some things you probably don’t know about visiting Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
Visiting Galeries Lafayette
Enjoy the Best View of Paris
The place with the best view of Paris is debatable, but if the rooftop terrace of Galeries Lafayette isn’t on the list, that list isn’t valid. Head to the 7th floor of Coupole store to La Terrasse and soak up the 360-degree view of the city for free. Palais Garnier is so close you’ll feel like you can touch it. Madame Eiffel, Sacré-Cœur, La Défense, Les Invalides, and the Grand Palais are just a few of the iconic landmarks seen from the rooftop. Take a peek through the Timescopes for a virtual reality view of Paris in 1912 or enjoy a coupe de Champagne and a bite to eat at La Paillote and the Cube Bar.
The view on La Terrasse is only rivaled by the view inside. Galeries Lafayette is arguably the most beautiful store in the world, and you don’t have to be an architectural addict to appreciate it. The luxurious bazaar was created in the art nouveau style, with a Louis Majorelle-designed staircase banister inspired by the nearby Palais Garnier. The 43-meter high Neo-Byzantine stained glass cupola is the most emblematic aspect of the store, followed by the series of golden, arched alcoves that feel more like a theater than a department store. If you’re interested in learning more, take an hour-long tour of this 125-year old family business.
Get your Food Fix
Whether you’re in the Coupole store or across the street at the Gourmet store, there is no shortage of things and places to eat. The restaurant list is like the United Nations of food: Petrossian Caviar, Panasia, 5 Jotas, La Maison de la Truffe, Steak Point, Fish Point, Angélina, and Vue sur Coupole are just a few of the restaurants throughout the two stores. And don’t forget about La Paillote and the Cube Bar on the rooftop terrace! Sweet treats are aplenty, with outlets such as Pierre Hermé, L’Éclair de Génie, Dalloyau, and Alain Ducasse Chocolate, to choose from. Head to the ground floor, where you’ll find the fine food deli and market place. Whether you’re looking for something to eat in the moment or for souvenirs, you’ll find plenty of French chocolate, tea, oils, mustards, and spices. Also, head to the beautiful cave for a huge selection of French wines and spirits.
Aspirational and Affordable Shopping
As you’d expect, visiting Galeries Lafayette is a lesson in restraint. With so many beautiful items for sale, you’ll have to use every ounce of willpower not to max out your credit card. In fact, you’ll find the world’s largest fashion collection located on 161,000-square feet featuring more than 320 French brands, as well as international brands from more than 15 different countries. Iconic French luxury brands can all be found here. Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, Chopard, and Louis Vuitton are just a few with boutiques in Galeries Lafayette. However, many people don’t realize that there’re also plenty of affordable brands. Not only does Galeries Lafayette have its own private labels, but also carries brands like Zara, Topshop, Caroll, Massimo Dutti, Sessùn, and Sinequnone. Look for pop-up shops and exclusive designs made in collaboration between Galeries Lafayette and designers. And, believe it or not, there’s even a boutique to rent and buy designer luxury accessories, such as handbags.
Even if you don’t know a lick of French, visiting Galeries Lafayette is a piece of cake. The multi-lingual staff is ready to help. Enjoy their VIP experience, which services include a style consultation, express alternations, hands-free shopping, and express delivery. Book a Parisian Shopping Experience, and for €49 you’ll receive access to Le Concierge. This private lounge features concierge service, express payment and tax refund service, delivery of purchases in Paris, drinks, snacks, and private toilets. If you’d rather be on your own, just use the free Wi-Fi to download the in-store geolocation app. Find brands and plan your shopping routes in 14 different languages. If Paris isn’t your last stop or if you don’t want to be weighed down, Galeries Lafayette will ship your purchases home. One of the newest and most convenient services is in-store tax refund. No need to wait in line at the airport anymore. Read all about getting your VAT back on purchases of more than €175 at Galeries Lafayette.
French Cultural Experiences
Last, but not least, one of the things you probably don’t know about visiting Galeries Lafayette is that they offer a library of French cultural experiences. Learn from an expert about French wine and cheese at a tasting in their L’Appartement Lafayette, a private area in the Coupole store. Master the art of makeup in the 1.5-hour class featuring luxurious beauty brands. Take a baking class, where you’ll learn to make your own macarons. Finally, fulfill that dream of attending a Paris fashion show on Fridays and Saturdays on the on the 4th floor of the Coupole store. Read more about these exclusive experiences.
This post is brought to you by Galeries Lafayette.