Galeries Lafayette in Paris is an EXPERIENCE. The afternoon of our second day in Paris was spent at the world famous Galeries Lafayette department store which was founded in 1895. It is a STUNNING 10 story masterpiece in the middle of Paris on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
A little background:
In 1895, Théophile Bader and his cousin Alphonse Kahn opened a fashion store in a small haberdasher’s shop at the corner of rue La Fayette and the Chaussée d’Antin, in Paris. In 1896, their company purchased the entire building at n°1 rue La Fayette; in 1905 they acquired the buildings at n°38, 40 and 42, boulevard Haussmann and n°15 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. Bader commissioned the architect Georges Chedanne and his pupil Ferdinand Chanut to design the store at the Haussmann location, where a glass and steel dome and Art Nouveau staircases were finished in 1912.
This is one of the most amazing department stores in the world and rivals Barney’s, Saks, Bergdorf’s but dwarfs them by size alone. The Hausmann location which is the flagship store is a glittering 10 story with a glorious stained glass dome called the ‘Chrysalide’ which just turned 100 years old. In collaboration with architect Djuric Tardio, Yann Kersalé created the ‘Chrysalide’, a lighting installation covering the façade of the Haussmann store, designed to evolve over time and change with the seasons. The artist has complemented his work by creating a permanent installation in the Lafayette Coupole.
After walking around (and when you do so, you can’t help but look UP) – We spent time with several brands inside the store and got a birds eye view into what goes into preparations for guests of the store. Many of the items they carry ranged from affordable to VERY expensive. However, all of the sales people were focused on one thing….client services. They treat every person that walks through the door (which by the way is the second most visited destination in Paris right behind the Louvre) as a potential client and that is what sets them apart.
First up was Dior…we saw all of the Private Collection fragrances (including ones that are only available in Paris) and learned how they help clients choose a fragrance that suite them by finding out what notes they like from a box of…you guessed it – fragrance notes. It’s an interesting way to choose a fragrance, one that not many pay attention to.
They also had something brand new called Elixir Precieux which was ABSOLUTELY DIVINE…. I circled back to sniff several times and almost lost my tour group (OOOPS!)
Next up was Sisley Paris which is a brand that I am not too familiar with but I learned that it is family owned and operated and only 30 years old which is very young considering most beauty brands have been around for eons. The skincare is plant based and has some pretty phenomenal items including my personal favorite that I have been trying called Hydra Global. It kind of tingles when it goes on which is always a good sign for me. Barbara helped us navigate the world of Sisley and gave us some goodies…
Next up was YSL – which is obviously available here in the US but what you may not know is that not all items (especially the darker shades of foundation) are not available in Paris. Why? Because in America we are obsessed with makeup and in France they are obsessed with skincare. The counter manager Juliette emphasized that the skin should be prepped first and she proceeded to do a minimal smokey eye look in less than 10 minutes on our friend Kenya that could take you from the office to drinks. Key word – MINIMAL I will be honest, when I am in France I wear way less makeup. Hell, I only really wore a tinted moisturizer and sometimes not even that. Most women there don’t do all of that….they just don’t.
Next was L’artisan Parfumeur a niche perfumerie founded in 1976 by perfumer-chemist Jean Laporte and was one of the first of a movement of exclusive niche fragrance houses inspired by nature and a desire to do things a little differently. They had the most AMAZING scents AND this fabulous Amber Ball that radiates the most amazing scent..
The finely carved terracotta Amber Balls by L’Artisan Parfumeur are unique objects. Handcrafted by mother and daughter artisans in the historic French département of L’Oise, one of the original eighty three departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. Hidden in the heart of each Amber Ball is a solid version of the warm, golden amber scent. Intense and exotic, the scent is carried by currents of air and magnified by heat in the room. It will radiate through rooms over a long period of time, trailing the mysteries of the orient into your dreams. Amber refills for the balls are available. Each Amber Ball is beautifully presented in a black box lined with paper, an unusual fragrant gift or something just for you, a singular objet parfumé to enhance any living space.
The scent will last for years and when the scent is gone….you have a beautiful object d’Art…
Our last stop for the day (besides lunch because I was STARVING! French people don’t eat on the same schedule as Americans do) was the Galeries des Galleries. An actual art Gallery on site at the store (amazing!) This is a dedicated space with exhibitions that change quarterly.
Galerie des Galeries is the cultural space of Galeries Lafayettes in Paris. Located on the 1st floor, the space was designed to encourage visitors of the boulevard Haussmann store to discover talented young artists of today and tomorrow. Galerie des Galeries’ program, organized around four exhibitions per year devoted to both French and international artists, aims to highlight the interdisciplinarity that exists between different domains of art including fashion, the visual arts and design which have always inspired Galeries Lafayette.
The walkway to the gallery is a darkened tubular hallway that opens up into a bright and airy space. There is also an area where you can purchase art books and other gallery items.
Currently, there is an exhibition called Grand Magasin. In this project, Philippe Jarrigeon creates an ideal department store and illustrates 25 years of fashion history in a festive and unique setting.
Our last stop (and a most magnificent one I might add..) was the rooftop that has arguably one one of the best views of the city. It was a beautiful day and I had the best time.
If you haven’t made it to Les Galeries Lafayette Haussmann yet, make sure it is at the top of your list for your trip. You can also get a VAT refund right there in the store as long as you spend more than €175 and have your passport with you.
40 Boulevard Haussmann
75009 Paris France
+33 1 42 82 34 56