Les Soldes + Galeries Lafayette - A shopper's paradise!
It’s that time of year again in Paris – Les Soldes! The glorious sales in Paris where you find people taking the day off to go shopping and waiting in ridiculous queues to get in past the security that lines some stores. Les Soldes is sort of like Black Friday in the US – but it lasts for about a month.
Of all the iconic places in Paris you can pass les soldes, Galeries Lafayette is certainly among the best! I tend to spend a lot of time in this fabulous department store because of my brilliant friend, Azaa Incerto. Azaa and I have known each other for many years and she always keeps me in the loop as to what is happening in the store and better yet – what exciting things I can offer my clients. Azaa manages to spend an afternoon here and there bringing me up to speed on all things Galeries Lafayette (which is terrific as I am technically out of her ‘territory’). Azaa heads up the international marketing for more of the Russia and Mongolia parts of the globe – hence her five languages come in pretty handy!
Azaa tells me that during les soldes over 200,000 people a day come through their doors… and a normal day sees around 100,000 people. It’s an insane number of clientele by any capacity when you consider the Louvre had 8.5 million people last year and I think that’s a crazy number!
So, how did Galeries Lafayette get so big? The history is quite impressive when you consider that it is still owned by a private family. In fact, it was founded by two cousins: Théophile Bader and Alphonse Kahn who opened the doors in 1893 as a novelty shop. In 1912 the five floor atrium was officially inaugurated with its stunning 33-metre high glass dome that causes mass chaos trying to navigate the cosmetics between hundreds of cameras all pointing up, of course. Throw in the 100,000 people a day and you get the picture!
A store like Galeries Lafayette does not grow solely on people walking through the door. The one thing this store does best is get out there and get people talking about it. In 1919 aviator Jules Védrines was awarded a promised 25,000 Francs for landing his plane on the roof. Surviving through two world wars the store celebrated economic recovery in 1948 by again having a plane flown by André Labarthe land on the roof. In 1950 Edith Piaf sang La Vie en Rose at Galeries Lafayette to bring some happiness back into daily Parisian life as well…it goes on and on.
There are so many facets to this department store it is utterly mind boggling. If you enjoy art there is always an exhibition in Galerie des Galereis – the in house art gallery. Wine tasting…done – in fact Galeries Lafayette has Bordeauxthèque which is a netherworld of what else, Bordeaux wine (bottles price from €7.00 to €25,000.00). Home décor, check. Fashion show – yep! Food – don’t even get me started from Angelina’s to some of the finest sushi in Paris! Luxury shopping – off the charts ridiculous in La Suite, the private top floor apartment overlooking Paris with gorgeous views of the Sacré Couer from the massive private terrace (There is also a rooftop terrace for the general public who visit the store as well.) – throw in champagne and catered in lunch and you have yourself one fab girl’s day out! …and did I mention the newly redesigned lingerie department that makes you feel as if you are engulfed in the most elegant boudoir on the 4th floor? And, last but not least, souvenirs – they have these too and actually have some of the best and most unique souvenirs you can find in Paris (6th floor so you can hit it on your way to take in the view from the roof!).
The sky seems to be pretty much the limit for Galeries Lafayette with recent openings in Beijing, Dubai and Jakarta. 2014 will see a new store opening in Doha and after that is anybody’s guess for this truly dynamic family business!
Photos courtesy of Galeries Lafayette