The Ultimate Guide to the Galeries Lafayette
When I think about the place I frequent most in Paris, many would be surprised. It’s not what most people would guess, like the Louvre, Tour Eiffel, or Champs Elysees. Nor the magical gardens and the winding streets of Montemartre. The place I visit most is the Galeries Lafayette on Haussmann boulevard, in the 9th district. I consider this to be the best shopping mall in Paris! Keep reading for an in depth and ultimate guide to the Galeries Lafayette. I’ll include shopping tips and information on what you can find there.
This 19th century structure looks less like a mall and more like a palace. Paris is the city where the concept of department stores were born.
Paris actually has four flagship department stores. The Bon Marché, Printemps, The BHV Marais, and the Galeries Lafayette. They aren’t simply a place to shop. These department stores offer art exhibitions, window displays, rooftop restaurants, cooking classes, DYI workshops, and pop-ups throughout the year.
The most popular and most impressive being Galleries Lafayette. Clothes, shoes, accessories, lingerie, cosmetics, perfumes, jewelry, luxury brands, more affordable brands – Galeries Lafayette has it all!
Where to start?
Enter on Boulevard Haussmann and Rue de Mogador. You’ll enter the first level, which is the accessories and beauty section. Here you’ll find purses, both luxury and at more affordable prices. Walk towards the center of the floor and you’ll be met with every beauty blogger’s dream. Hundreds of beauty brands to choose from, like Lancome, Tom Ford, Chanel, M.A.C., Saint Laurent, Geurlain, etc. It’s hard not to spend hours here trying out makeup and perfume. Just be aware that this is the most crowded of floors and it is quite hard to move around during the busiest hours of the day! Other things you can find on this floor are jewelry, luxury watches, leather, and all kinds of accessories.
Looking for footwear?
Head downstairs to the shoe section. Though you’ll find some footwear at individual brands, the majority of the selection is on the lower level. The brands range from designer like Versace to affordable footwear like Vejas, Nike, and Aldo. If you visit during the months of January/February and June/July, you’ll be greeted with incredible sales on most brands. For example, I was just eyeing a pair of Adidas running shoes originally priced at 110 euros on sale for 50 euros. Unfortunately I was too late and they were out of my size. (Go early to get first dibs!)
Head upstairs to floor 1 through 4 for all things fashion. Curious as to why you aren’t seeing anything for men? The Galeries Lafayette has its own entire store for men, right next door. You can get there from a glass walled walkway on floors 1 and 2. The men’s store is smaller, with only 4 floors as opposed to the main store of 9 floors. The floors are separated in what I assume to be luxury and then casual brands. The luxury brand floor is more of a window-shopping experience for most visitors, with clothes by Chanel, Gucci, Valentino, Saint-Laurent–pretty much every designer you could think of has a a home in Galeries Lafayette.
I tend to frequent floor 2 mostly. There you’ll find brands such as Kooples, Sandro, Maje, Ba&sh, TopShop, Kenzo, and Galeries Lafayette’s own department store brand. Sure, these brands aren’t extremely wallet friendly, but compared to the rest of the store, they are. Plus, these brands are known to sell items of good quality and if you spend a bit more, you’ll be sure to own these items for many years.
Food & Drink
The Galelries Lafayette actually has dozens of food options. I recommend on of the cafes or restaurants, rather than the food court on the 9th floor. It is a bit over-priced for such mediocre quality. When I get hungry from the fast paced shopping and trying on clothes, I head over to Joe & the Juice, the new snack bar that replaced what was once a Starbucks.
On the first floor (luxury fashion area), you’ll find Angelina. Just like the famous tearoom on Rue de Rivoli, this sophisticated and cozy setting, with its marbled walls and gilding, makes the best known house classics such as the Mont-Blanc and Angelina’s famous hot chocolate.
The Galeries Lafayette L’homme has a new salad bar on the ground floor called Jour, serving up healthy options with juices and more.
If you haven’t seen the view from the top of the Galeries Lafayete building, you are missing out on what many call the best rooftop view in all of Paris.
During the summer months, the department store turns part of the rooftop terrace into a restaurant. Last summer was the extremely popular “Créatures” vegetarian restaurant. In the winter months, you’ll find a free ice-rink (I will point out that the ice rink is mostly for kids, as it not made of real ice, and is quite small). Still festive, though!
For many, the winter months are the best time to visit the Galeries Lafyette. Until mid January, the department store is adorned in holiday lights, art displays, and festive decor that puts every other shopping mall to shame.
The outside window displays and the interior are really something to see, even if you’re not a huge fan of shopping. In 2014, they even had an upside down Christmas tree in the middle of the mall! This past winter, they had a floating tree, with sparking lights and stunning decorations. The tree and outdoor displays are extremely festive and picture-worthy. Don’t forget to enjoy the famous Glass Walk of the Galeries Lafayette to enjoy an unobstructed view of the tree, and during the normal months you’ll get the perfect view of the famous glass ceiling.
More than just shopping…
There’s more to the Galeries Lafaytte than just shopping and dining. The mall also offers many activities. From macaron baking, to wine tasting, to even a historic tour, you’ll be sure to find something to suit your mood!
I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide to the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris. Make sure to add this to your itinerary during your stay!