We all know there are many shopping capitals of the world, London, Tokyo, Dubai, New York, Milan… Today, I am here to give a firsthand account of shopping in Paris.
I knew my 3 month adventure in Paris would fall right in the middle of winter and I wanted to come prepared. Unfortunately, winter in Europe corresponds to summer in Brisbane and I was hard-pressed to find anything vaguely warm before leaving. I finally discovered that the outdoor gear shops stocked clothing for all kinds of weather so I went along and bought myself a wind and waterproof jacket. I didn’t think much of the fact that it was an unattractive sky blue with nothing feminine about it (save the label which claimed it was for females), and only focussed on that fact that it would protect me from the Parisian elements. It’s been 2 weeks. I simply cannot bring myself to wear that jacket here!
We’ve always heard that the Parisians are stylish and I didn’t expect it to be true but believe me, it is. The reason of course is the incredible range of shopping. I can’t believe I struggled so hard to find scarves and boots in Brisbane because over here, every colour, fabric and style imaginable is available! Besides the amazing Champs-Élysées which I wrote about last week, all kinds of shopping malls exist in Paris and I will only scratch the surface of the booming fashion industry.
First stop: Galeries Lafayette
Having been instructed by almost every guide book I consulted to make sure this legendary department store was visited, I went there last week. One word – WOW!
The store went up for 7 floors, but also had a level 0 and level -1 making it an impressive 9 storeys. The mall was filled with all kinds of things imaginable – clothing, jewellery, food section, shoes… And of course, everything was the best that money could buy. Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, and Jimmy Choo are just drops in the big bucket of designer fame to be found within. Those who have seen pictures of the store might have seen something like this:
This is the current decoration which is found towards the centre of the store reaching up several (but not all) storeys. For the full experience, I did of course traverse all 9 floors and came across amazing items. A deli selling products from a range of suppliers was on one floor.
To help convey the range available at the store, the following picture is of the pepper section. The entire stand is covered (on both sides) with different types of pepper.
Once again in the food section (yes, I spend a lot of time in these areas!) was the gift section. This one looks like fun:
They also had chocolate Scrabble. This is a surefire way to beat my family since they are big chocolate lovers and I’m not! Not that I need that kind of advantage right, brothers?
Another very impressive section was that of baby fashion. I didn’t even know names like Armani, Burberry and Hugo Boss made baby clothes. But since they do, you can of course expect Lafayette to stock it!
You’ll probably notice that all these pictures display the current winter lines. Another interesting point – how does one winter-proof babies in Europe? Many children I’ve seen wear spacesuit-like outfits which I guess must be well insulated.
This keeps them warm, but what keeps them dry? Clingwrap of course! Well, something close anyway.
To all mums with troublesome babies, I highly recommend Europe in winter. The cold seems to have some kind of pacifying effect on children because I swear despite having seen many, many children, I’ve only seen 2 crying! They just sit swaddled up in their prams with dummies in their mouths, not so much as a murmur! Good point to justify a trip overseas in case you need it.
Back to Galeries Lafayette – after covering the whole store, I noticed something odd – I hadn’t passed a mens clothing section. After stepping outside the store, I discovered why – I had only walked through the Main Store. There was still the Men’s Store (4 storeys) and Home Store (5 storeys) to go! Not being a well-practiced shopper (likely to change after my stay here!), I couldn’t bring myself to walk another 9 floors of mind-boggling shopping. I walked along the outside of the Main Store where the windows were filled with Christmas displays. Toys (marionettes, teddybears etc) seemed to be the basis for many and I took a picture of just this one:
It’s not the best picture but it’s a scene from the movie Mamma Mia performed here by… Teddybears. Interestingly, the lyrics were all in French except for words that formed the title of the song. This happy moment concluded my first (of many) visits to the Galeries Lafayette, next time I will make sure to be warmed up enough to hit all 3 sections!
Since then I have seen a few other shopping centres including Châtelet Les Halles and Les Quatre Temps but I have to say they are not as impressive as Lafayette. In my humble opinion, it even tops Harrods of Knightsbridge, but not everyone would agree with me on that. Nonetheless, I can now safely conclude that Paris is MY shopping capital of the world (opinion subject to change if I visit New York, Tokyo or Milan!) and I happily await the sales which I hope will follow Christmas!