How to Shop the Grand Department Stores of Paris

The legends that are Les Grands Magasins department stores, allure in many more ways than just the stock they keep. As treasured as the Tour d’Eiffel, this elite collection of the largest retail experiences hold charm, architecture and a great deal of Parisian heritage. Meet the glamorous household names that coined the concept of the department store way back in the 19th century. 

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche 

The cool Grand­ma of retail ther­a­py, Le Bon Marché is the old­est depart­ment store, birthed in 1838. An oldie but goldie, it’s all about style. Act­ing as the main inspi­ra­tion for Emile Zola’s renowned nov­el « Au Bon­heur des Dames », the ladies flocked to Le Bon Marché on its arrival: 

« The most del­i­cate flower colours radi­at­ed from a dis­play of silks, satins and vel­vet in a flu­id, shim­mer­ing range of tones… in the cen­tre, a vel­vet coat trimmed with sil­ver fox… on one side, a silk cloak lined with squir­rel… there was some­thing for every taste. » 

Its lega­cy lies firm­ly root­ed in Paris’s his­to­ry, with engi­neer Gus­tave Eif­fel (you guessed it, the Eif­fel Tow­er design­er), assist­ing with its expan­sion in 1852. Home to lux­u­ry fash­ion and home­ware alike, why not fur­ther indulge with a blow out at La Bar à Coif­fure 365c. If you’re look­ing for a trip down mem­o­ry lane, head to Le Bon Marché for a true Parisian expe­ri­ence. Go shake your tail feath­ers ladies!

ADDRESS: 24 Rue de Sèvres (7th arr.)

MÉTRO: Sèvres-Baby­lone (Line 10, 12)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sèvres-Baby­lone

PRICE: €€€

MOOD: Under­stat­ed ele­gance, Parisian to its core.

INSTAGRAM: @lebonmarcherivegauche

WEBSITE

Le BHV Marais 

La cœur de Paris, the OG depart­ment store is sit­u­at­ed in a trendy dis­trict where you can find tru­ly authen­tic French style. Orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed by shop-keep­er Xavier Ruel, the pros­per­i­ty that lies with Le BHV Marais is thanks to a reward giv­en by Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon 111 in 1855. Home to over 2000 fash­ion and lifestyle brands, it’s recog­nised across the world for its vast vari­ety and acces­si­bil­i­ty. Plus, for a bou­jee break, why not feast your eyes on gourmet burg­ers at Big Fer­nand, or will you be tempt­ed with truf­fle inspired dish­es at l’Artisan de la Truffe? Grab your sweet treat from Pierre Mar­col­i­ni, one of the finest choco­latiers on your way out.  You won’t be able to enter with­out walk­ing away with a lit­tle some­thing extra. 

ADDRESS: 52 rue de Riv­o­li (4th arr.) / 36 rue de la Ver­rerie (4th arr.) /  La Niche 42 rue de la Ver­rerie (4th arr.) / Le BHV Par­ly 2 Cen­tre Com­mer­cial (18th arr.) 

NEIGHBORHOOD: Le Marais

PRICE: €€€

MOOD: Like a kid enter­ing a can­dy shop and not know­ing where to begin

INSTAGRAM: @le_bhv_marais

WEBSITE

Le Printemps

Scat­tered across the city, Le Print­emps is a leg­endary group con­sis­tent­ly filled with an admirable hus­tle and bus­tle style. A shop­ping expe­ri­ence at Le Print­emps is no short of mag­i­cal, serv­ing fresh styles and high qual­i­ty fab­rics galore. Lit­er­al­ly trans­lat­ing to Spring time in French, Le Print­emps is deca­dent with jew­ellery, high-end beau­ty prod­ucts, fur­ni­ture and more more more. The orig­i­nal store, Le Print­emps Hauss­mann, is home to Ladurée, AKA one of the best mac­arons in the world (tried and test­ed bien sûr). More­over, its panoram­ic roof ter­race, where you can see spec­tac­u­lar views across the cap­i­tal, includ­ing Palais Gar­nier and the Eif­fel Tow­er. What are you wait­ing for?

ADDRESS: 64 Boule­vard Hauss­mann (9th arr.) /  Print­emps Nation 21–25 Cours de Vin­cennes (20th arr.)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Opéra Gar­nier / Grands Boulevards

PRICE: €€€

MOOD: The big boss of retail in Paris, a field of sun­flow­ers in bloom

INSTAGRAM: @print­emps

WEBSITE

Les Galeries Lafayette 

Beau­ty and fash­ion enthu­si­asts alike swarm the trea­sured gem that is Les Galeries Lafayette. You only have to look up on enter­ing the Hauss­mann branch to be amazed by the Art Nou­veau dome ceil­ing, dec­o­rat­ed with elab­o­rate orna­ments dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Galeries Lafayette claims it’s spot as the most vis­it­ed of Les Grands Mag­a­sins, and for good rea­son too. Cut­ting edge style is dis­played in the form of the per­fect pair of sun­nies from Loewe, seduc­tive scents of Aqua Di Par­ma, exclu­sive pieces from Jacque­mus and Mach & Mach stilet­tos that slay all day… must we go on? More than just a retail expe­ri­ence, it wel­comes art lovers, cul­ture enthu­si­asts and lux­u­ry-long­ing food­ies. Trust us when we say, you won’t want to leave.

P.S. avoid the crowds by vis­it­ing in peak sum­mer time, when native Parisians flee the city. 

ADDRESS: 40 Boule­vard Hausse­mann (9th arr.) /  60 Avenue des Champs-Elysées (8th arr.) / 7 rue Linois, Cen­tre com­mer­cial Beau­grenelle (15th arr.)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Opéra Gar­nier / Grands Boule­vardsArc de Tri­om­phe / Champs Elysées / Concorde

PRICE: €€€

MOOD: Becom­ing roy­al­ty for the day

INSTAGRAM: @galeries­lafayette

WEBSITE

La Samaritaine

A true French’s favourite, Samar­i­taine has recent­ly returned with a revamped look, giv­ing a fresh feel to its his­toric pil­lars. Art lovers can find gold hues in the revived oak stair­way — think dra­mat­ic like the meet­ing of Jack and Rose on the stairs in Titan­ic (per­haps we can even pre­tend we’re part of Bridger­ton for the day.) Else­where, pea­cock murals can be found across the walls, a per­fect accom­pa­ni­ment to the grand dis­play of fash­ion. Enjoy over 650 lux­u­ry brands set across 7 floors: you name it, and Samar­i­taine will prob­a­bly have it. Not for­get­ting it hosts Europe’s largest beau­ty space. Feel­ing zen? Check out Cinq Mon­des Spa for a mani-pedi or a quick head mas­sage. When hunger kicks in, get wined and dined by Miche­lin-starred chefs at Voy­age, or opt for a good old fash­ioned French del­i­ca­cy at The Ernest Bak­ery. Let’s face it, crois­sants are always a good idea.

ADDRESS: 9 rue de la Mon­naie (1st arr.)

MÉTRO: Châtelet-Les Halles (lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14)

NEIGBORHOOD: Les Halles

PRICE: €€€

INSTAGRAM: @samaritaineparis

WEBSITE

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