After you’ve seen the sites and are ready for some serious shopping, head for Galeries Lafayette for a total experience. Not only are all the top designers represented but added value includes jeweled architecture, gourmet food and one of the best rooftop views in Paris.
The flagship Galeries Lafayette store was unveiled in all its glory at its inauguration in October 1912. Théophile Bader dreamed of creating a “luxury bazaar” where the sheer abundance and luxury of the merchandise on offer would wow the crowds. Golden light, filtered through the domed roof, would flood the grand hall and set the products aglow. The gamble paid off.
Ferdinand Chanut called upon great artists from the École de Nancy to decorate this magnificent building in the style of Paris Art Nouveau. The banister of the magnificent staircase, inspired by the Paris Opera House, was designed by Louis Majorelle, who is also credited with the ironwork featured on the balconies. The dome, rising to a height of 43 metres, soon became the iconic symbol of Galeries Lafayette. Master glass-maker Jacques Gruber was responsible for designing the Neo-byzantine style stained glass windows.
The sales floor had suddenly doubled in size, but the innovations didn’t stop there. A tea room, reading room and smoking room were then added to complement the 96 existing departments. As more department stores began to appear, shopping was becoming a leisure activity. At the very top of the building, the rooftop terrace offered a panoramic view of Paris. The store began organising special events much to the delight of an entertainment-hungry clientèle, including the now famous rooftop landing by Jules Védrines in 1919. The aviator was fined for flying too low over Paris, but gained lifelong notoriety as the first ever rebel in aviation history.
The window displays have always been instrumental in setting the scene in the sales departments, with aspirational designs to tempt customers into the store. A vocation which has stood the test of time.
The Haussmann department store is the second top tourist attraction, after the Eiffel Tower. In the early sixties, young designers began launching their ready-to-wear lines, sitting between haute couture and traditional tailoring. Each season Galeries Lafayette would showcase these new talents by providing them with small boutiques or concessions in the store. The first designer to hit the big-time was Laura, in 1962, which later went on to become Sonia Rykiel. Then it was the turn of Daniel Hechter, Pierre Cardin, Cacharel, Yves Saint-Laurent and Dorothée Bis.
Discover over a century of history with their guided tours. These 45-minute tours are free of charge and arranged upon request, for parties of 10 to 20 people. To make a reservation contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org and leave your name, surname, contact details and the number of people interested in attending a tour.
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
40, Boulevard Haussmann
Monday to Saturday: 9.30am – 8pm
Late-night opening on Thursdays until 9pm
Special opening hours, from 10.30am to 8pm on:
Saturday 1st November / Tuesday 11th November