Galeries Lafayette: The Art of Living

Monday, February 13

The humongous building of Galeries Lafayette is just as emblematic of Paris as the Eiffel Tower. With its main entrance located on the corner of boulevard Haussmann, it attracts thousands of people every day who stroll along the extravagant window displays, discover new perfumes and up-and-coming fashion brands under the majestic Art Nouveau dome or even look for souvenirs that will remind them of a vacation spent in the heart of France.

Although my linear mind has always found Galeries Lafayette a bit tricky to shop at, every time I come to Paris I make sure to stop by this splendid building, which is located just a few steps from Opéra, and pick up something - even if it's just a new Kure Bazaar nail polish or a Paperchase notebook or a last-minute gift for a friend who's having a birthday party (I even found a Star Wars-themed lamp for my friend here last summer which is probably the cheesiest present I've ever given to anyone).

In a way, Galeries Lafayette is like a Tim Walker's editorial among the photoshoots inspired by the recently popular 1990's aesthetics: it brings back the joy, the memorable experience, which is at the core of shopping and is the reason why so many people are addicted to browsing and trying on. With its mix of expensive and accessible, classic and contemporary - all under the roof of a century-old building - it is indeed a celebration of the French "art of living" which we all find so difficult to define. As much as the advertisements try to force us to believe a swipe of red lipstick will instantly make us feel Parisian, it's much more about being open-minded, slowing down and enjoying the moment. Isn't it nicer to pick up a cashmere sweater at Galeries Lafayette before meeting up with a friend for a few glasses of rouge - than to order the same jumper online during the commercial break?

I especially love the accessories and the beauty departments located on the ground floor of the flagship store - they are always very crowded, but it's a brilliant opportunity to discover all new collections at once (besides, you can find a huge variety or gloves, scarves and bags at a very reasonable price right by the main entrance). My second favourite is the 6th floor: a paradise for all the bookworms, as well as those who are obsessed with stationary and such novelty items as cute posters and canvas totes with funny slogans. Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, I highly recommend stopping by Pierre Hermé (on the lower ground floor of the main building) or Sadaharu Aoki (Lafayette Gourmet, 35 boulevard Haussmann) - the latter is perfect for those who are a little bit tired of traditional flavours, as they always have on offer wasabi and matcha macarons.

Also, if you're not planning to spend any money at all, the delicate ironwork of the balconies on the upper floors, the iconic 43 metres high dome and the rooftop terrace with a panoramic view over Paris (7th floor, from 9:30AM to 7:30PM) make Galeries Lafayette still worth a visit. There's truly something for everyone in this department store.

What is your preferred way of shopping? Do you "follow the list" and order everything you need online to avoid crowds and distractions or do you like spending an afternoon wandering around and trying on different things? What are your favourite places to shop at in Paris - or in your hometown?

PS The window displays and the installation that are pictured above were created for the department store last summer by the duo behind the art magazine TOILETPAPER.

Photos by me. Editing by Sergey Povoroznyuk

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  1. I like shopping both ways. Sometimes the easiness of ordering something online just makes it so hassle free, but then again sometimes I really enjoy touching and feeling the product before buying it. However, I am not a huge shopping centre fan and much prefer having a stroll outside when shopping. Although you did make this place sound wonderful and the next time I visit Paris I will try and visit it as well :)


    1. Lii, I'm really happy I managed to translate just how passionate I feel about this place! :-) Since I study art and work in fashion, I suppose I was destined to fall in love with the building and the atmosphere, hehe.

      And I understand your shopping preferences very well! Shopping online does fit our busy lifestyles better and also gives us access to a bigger variety of brands and products. But every now and again it's nice stroll around, mingle with other people and generally have a few hours of fun as far away from the laptop as possible :-)

      Also, I would highly recommend visiting Galeries Lafayette (and Printemps which I'll talk about later!) in late November/December - the Christmas windows and the tree inside are just magical! Here's a little photo I took back in 2014 if you're interested ;)


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