christmas dome galeries lafayette paris france opener

Shopping in Paris | Galeries Lafayette | iconic department store

Cool, understated elegance that belies inner sparkle and sizzle.

Art vs shopping ? Tough call. If you had just one day in Paris …

The Paris shopping playground that is Galeries Lafayette came to Sydney this week to spruik its “nouveau chic” makeover and new customer treats over pastries and smoked salmon at the Sofitel Wentworth.

In the hands of one family group for more than 120 years (it was founded in 1894 by Théophile Bader), the flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann has gone from being a 70 sq m haberdashery store to a 70,000 sq m space that attracts 100,000 visitors every day; up there for pulling power with the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Disneyland. There are 60 stores in France alone plus outposts in Dubai, Casablanca, Beijing and Jakarta, and Galeries Lafayette is soon to open in Istanbul, Milan, Doha, and on the Champs-Elysees.

While there are no plans to open in Australia, it seems travellers from Down Under to France are increasing in number every year. According to French tourism development agency Atout France, 1.2 million Australians visited France last year. Many make a beeline to the iconic Paris store. Especially around Christmas, when big department stores tend to go into snow, sparkle and diorama overdrive, irresistible for southern hemisphere travellers used to celebrating the festive season with sand and sunscreen. This year’s family drawcard at Galeries Lafayette is Léon the robot and his clan, from the planet Scopi.

The Galeries Lafayette HQ on Boulevard Haussmann comprises Lafayette Coupole, for women’s and children’s fashion; the upgraded Lafayette Homme (fashion brands across the two number a staggering 3500) and a gastronomy and lifestyle emporium, Lafayette Maison. The latter was completed a year ago, curating gourmet goods and homewares under the one roof as a celebration of the “art of living”. There’s even a cellar, La Cave, which holds more than 20,000 bottles of wine. After all that Christmas shopping, you’d probably need every one of them.

galeries lafayette paris france facade haussmann nouveau logo septembre 2015

Galeries Lafayette flagship store in Paris

Innovations of late have included private perfume and makeup workshops, guided tours of the store, weekly fashion shows, personal shoppers, private tax refund desks, an English speaking concierge, a salon for foot-weary male shoppers who like jazz – and a new graphic portfolio to mark a fresh urban campaign dubbed Le Nouveau Chic, which features everyone from ballerinas and hip-hop choreographers to musicians, models and chefs. To move things right along into the 21st century, Sunday openings are being explored!

One of the hottest tickets in town earlier this year was the opportunity to sleep over in the store, under the historic 33m high Neo Byzantine glass dome, which dates to 1912, ahead of the momentous January sales, and select, with the help of a personal shopper, the wardrobe of your choice. The competition (with six fashionista entrants victorious) was a clever partnership between Galeries Lafayette and Airbnb.

Galeries Lafayette Paris gourmet and lifestyle space2

Front row seat for food and lifestyle inspiration

Following the opening of its first outlet store near Paris a while ago, Galeries Lafayette is launching two new off-price locations, one in western France in Marques Avenue Centre in la Séguinière later this year, and in southern France at the Nailloux Outlet Village in early 2016. Both stores, ranging from 800 to 1000 sq m, will carry merchandise from the previous season across men’s, women’s and children’s clothing at discounts from between 30 and 70 per cent.

More are in the pipeline, reports Luxury Daily, as the new strategy aims to optimise stock management, and join those department stores expanding their retail outlet footprints to capture discount sales from aspirational consumers. But the experience of the flagship Paris establishment is hard to beat.

Related stories: Cool Sydney shopping; A Rare Paris Treat; Paris Perfumeries


Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab.

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Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.