Monday, July 7, 2014

A Rooftop with a View

Lundi, 7 juin.

Let's play a game. It's called "Guess where Elisabeth went today?!" Here's your first clue.

Don't know yet? Okay, I'll give you a hint. I was on top of a pretty famous building in Paris that's been providing great views of the city -- and a whole lot of other things -- for the past 100 years. This is what the inside looks like...

Is it ... a cathedral? A palace? A famous opera house? Nope, nope, and nope. In a city where castles are now museums and palaces were built for world exhibitions, this gorgeous building is actually a DEPARTMENT STORE.

Galeries Lafayette, to be specific.
Though it's a now a global chain of luxury department stores, les Galeries Lafayette began as a tiny haberdashery shop, opened in Paris in 1893 by two Alsacien cousins. The original store was located on the corner of rue de la Chaussée d’Antin and, fittingly, rue La Fayette. You can read about the fascinating history of the store here, but suffice it to say that the entrepreneuring cousins did quite well for themselves. The department store, which is among the most well-known in Paris, has since moved locations and now takes up several city blocks on the Boulevard Haussmann. (In addition to this MASSIVE flagship store in Paris, the company has stores around the world, from Berlin to Beijing.)

Because of its beautiful location and top-notch shopping, Galeries Lafayette is constantly packed with tourists and Parisians alike, who arrive at the store for a unique mix of shopping and sightseeing. The rooftop of the building has been turned into a terrace, complete with benches, artificial turf, and cafes! After reading this blog post about the gorgeous store and its fabulous rooftop views, I knew that I simply had to check it out! And let me tell you ... WOW.

The large building just across the way? The back of the Opera Garnier. Casual.

Does this location seem strangely ... familiar ... to you? Let me help you figure it out. Add a couple sepia filters and some music, take away the tourists, and what have you got? Oh, just the location of Taylor Swift's "Begin Again" music video.

Because if anything could make Paris better, it's a Taylor Swift music video. And although it sadly didn't make the cut for the TSwift video, the inside of Galeries Lafayette isn't too shabby either...


The main store, which opened in 1912 and then expanded in the 1950s, features nine levels (including a basement and roof terrace) that sell everything from designer clothes to freshly-made sushi. The levels are divided by them -- for example, the ground floor focuses on jewelry, perfume, and accessories while the fifth floor is devoted to children's clothes and toys. Throughout the store, there are restaurants, cafes, and lounges ... for when shopping gets so tiring that you simply have to have a coffee. Or a bottle of champagne. (Don't worry, the Starbucks sells both!)

You can check out the map -- yes, there's a map -- here.


Because of Galeries Lafayette's origins as a haberdashery store, selling primarily fabric and sewing materials, the arches above the store's upper floors feature the crests of French cities important to the textile trade. Of course, the true show-stopper is what sits ABOVE the arches... a 43-meter stained glass coupole!



  1. Wow! How did we miss this when we were long ago!

  2. Missed it too... and we used to stay so close to it with PanAm!

  3. Watched the video... loved it... and like that you had your Wednesday in a cafe too :)