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.
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!
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 finestchocolatiers 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.)
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.)
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.
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)