Paris Tips: Summertime Window-Shopping at Printemps

Sale on at Printemps! Photos by Theadora Brack

Four Seasons by French sculptor Henri Chapu

By Theadora Brack

It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that Bling! So let’s hoof it to Printemps Haussmann in Paris for a little label-gazing!

But first, let’s look to Oscar Wilde for a little inspiration. After all, our favorite writer and clotheshorse was also the editor of  The Woman’s World magazine way back in the original New Romantic 1880s.

Wearing a puffy shirt and breeches (he dismissed trousers as “boring tubes”), along with a smoking jacket and one green carnation, he quipped, “It is only the shallow people who do not judge by appearances.” Touché, Monsieur Wilde!


And speaking of keeping up appearances, les Musées de Paris aren’t the only ones in the city getting “a little work done” these days. Following suit, even Printemps has been in the final phase of an extreme makeover.

Now sporting a chic-sleek modern look that nevertheless manages to pay homage to her expansive Belle Epoché days, the grand magasin’s new three-level atrium is worth a peek. In step with other department stores and shops worldwide, Printemps wears her starkness well!

Dream Team

On the case is the Canadian architectural firm Yabu Pushelberg. (Toronto duo George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg were also responsible for New York’s Tiffany & Co., Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman’s recent re-do’s.)  No holds were barred, as beaucoup euros have been poured into the historic monument’s extensive interior and exterior revamping.

Just like heaven at Printemps

Shine on

Inside you’ll also be dazzled by the recently installed super-cool (and eco-friendly) LED lighting system that illuminates and opens up the heart of the store: the central atrium. Resembling an over-sized Lucite jewelry box, this pleasing eye candy is decked out in slick marble, sleek bands of iced chrome, and live trees that sprout multi-colored handbags. Ma joie!

Jutting out between the bustling, zigzagging escalators are towering cubbyholes (three stories high) stuffed with shiny fab accessories and fragrances, just enough out of reach to tantalize. Oh, la la. Heads-up! Featured collections rotate.

Tips: Looking for discounts? Shop during the two annual Big Sale periods in either January or June. This year’s summer sales launch on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.

Also, the grand magasins often coordinate free art exhibits. Recently the Cracking Art Group’s Bunnies and Mr. Brainwash ‘s King Kong rocked at Printemps, while Dior held court at Bon Marché.

Don’t skip the loo

While browsing, check out “the first luxury public toilets” by Point WC (as touted on their website). One euro buys you private seating in a water closet lit by rose-colored lights, and stocked with  fluorescent toilet tissues in pinks, greens, and blues.

You can’t miss the €1800 price tag for the commode, but happily you don’t have to buy it to experience it! Cosmetics for touch-ups, souvenir rolls of toilet tissue, and even beverages are available at the Point WC welcome desk. Yes, life is good–and with flattering lighting to boot!

Need a break?

Feeling all peckish? I’ve got the spot! Located in between Gare Saint-Lazare and Printemps Homme, Café Triadou has been open since 1935. So what’s on the menu? I recommend going with the baguette jambon beurre Gruyère! It’s hearty and oh so satisfying without costing an arm and a leg! Café Triadou’s terrace is a prime people-watching spot. So come with a journal or sketchbook in hand. In the words of dapper Wilde, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

Happy Hunting! Et Bon Appétit!


59 thoughts on “Paris Tips: Summertime Window-Shopping at Printemps

    • Thank you! I’ve always enjoyed window-shopping along Boulevard Haussmann—especially during the annual big sales! Also, the rooftops at Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are two of my favorite spots in the city! Both have spectacular views of the city. You’re able to spy the Tour Eiffel, the Opéra Garnier, and Sacré Coeur. I could go on and on. . .Enjoy the weekend!! Theadora


    • Thanks, Brigitte!! I’m hooked on sandwiches. Individually wrapped, often in beautifully illustrated bags, they’re delectable, affordable, and oh so portable!! T.


  1. I am salivating… It has been too long since I visited Paris (and Printemps – department stores are different in Paris!) One of your best yet, T AND lovely words from the incomparable Mr Wilde! 🙂


  2. “Either the wallpaper goes, or I do”. Oscar Wilde’s dying words would NEVER be uttered in the dashing Printemps. Everything is perfect. Larger the life. More enticing than afternoon tryst. Virginia


    • Thanks, Virginia!! Hands-down, the “Either the wallpaper goes, or I do” is one of my all-time favorite Wilde quotes. I also like, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Enjoy the weekend! T.


  3. Love the summer sales!! We we there last year and missed the Hermès vente privée by a week 😦 But our shopping haul from Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché was awesome!! Will have to check out Printemps this year when we get back.


    • I’m with you, Vivien!! I love the Big Summer Sales. I usually create a map and a plan of attack. What did you score at Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché? Any treasures? Rue de Rennes is another favorite shopping district. There’s a Galeries Lafayette in the Montparnasse Tower! Theadora (Did you make it to GL’s new shoe department?)


      • I scored a Burberry trench for half price, and hubby scored some shirts, pants and ties from Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna and shoes from Tod’s. (I think he bought more than I did, LOL. He was like a kid in a candy store and I guess Asian sizes are the odd sizes in Europe so he found loads of stuff in his size.) I did better in Milan with MaxMara although hubby did get a Zegna suit there too. I will have to check out rue de Rennes this trip and no, did not make it to the shoe department at GL. We got there but took one look at the swarms of people and decided to call it a day… That and we had hardly any room left in our luggage… Next year, I’m hoping to plan our trip to coincide with the Hermes vente privee sale and I’m travelling there with an empty suitcase… haha


      • Vivien! Wow!! I’m impressed. That’s quite a fabulous haul. And trip! Paris + Milano = Bliss!! The empty suitcase strategy is a great plan. I always “nest” my suitcases! You’ll avoid paying a fee for the second (empty bag). Saint-Germain-des-Prés is another favorite shopping district. Here you’ll find Agnès B and Annick Goutal, located near Saint-Sulpice. Enjoy the week! Theadora (I really enjoyed your recent Mariage Frerès post. I loved the historical tidbits!)


      • Love the ‘nesting suitcase’ idea. Will have to use it for this trip. Yes, looking forward to discovering St. Germain. (We only stopped by briefly on our last visit) We’re staying at an apartment in rue St. Andres des Arts. Annick Goutal is already on my list and so is Les Salon du Palais Royal. I’m looking forward to stocking up on some french scents 🙂 Will look out for Agnes B. By the way, I’ve included the market at Porte de Vanves in our plans as per your advice. So looking forward to it and I’ve started counting down the days – just a little over 3 months. Excited!


  4. Such fascinating posts you have! ‘Tis a pleasure to peruse them.
    Because I am feeling a bit Wilde, I would love the black shoes to the left and the sleek low black boots to the right in the shoe&purse display (I am too taken with the shoes to fawn over the purses, but I imagine both bright colours and the blacks would show off my new black shoes… 🙂 Thanks Theadora. It’s been fun! ~ Lily


    • It’s always fun window-shopping with you, Lily!! I also dig the sleek black shoes. I think I’m spotting a little pompom action at the top! I also like the red clutch below them. And speaking of shoes, Galeries Lafayette recently opened their shoe “temple.” Have you been there? Located on the basement level, it’s shines on with 12,000 designer shoes and comfy chairs. It’s worth a sneak peek!! But pack a candy bar and bottle of water. The place is huge!! Theadora


    • Oh. Yes. That’s why I patiently wait until the Big Sales in June and January. From time to time, I’m able to score pieces from the Printemps house collection at the Sympa bargain bins in Montmartre for a few euros a pop. Happy days! T.


  5. You always make me feel as if you are leading me you through all the shopping realms of Paris. What a wonderful guide and companion! Thanks for taking me along on your tours if only vicariously. Alas, if only they were real, but I’m stuck at home for the time being . . . through your magical words and images, however, I escape!


  6. Stunning as usual. I think the ‘four seasons’ is absolutely beautiful.
    I’ve been meaning to stop by and thank you for visiting so much lately. I always love seeing your little “gigi-like” gravatar under one of my posts! Thanks


      • Thanks T…little soggy but washing the pollen away, so it’s all good. Can’t wait to see what you do next!


  7. Beautiful, as always! Love the giant lipstick and the man behind it, looking at the car. As always, I’m off to eat after reading your blog and looking at pictures of delicious food!


    • Thanks!! I guess the “accessories” exhibit included a little something for everyone. His expression is quite intense! It was interesting to watch folks stare at the over-sized cosmetics. A powder puff compact completed the set! T.


    • Ah, thanks, Karen! By the way, I’ve been enjoying following your Sancerre watercolor series. So lovely!! “Le Chat Sancerre” and “Looking Down on Sancerre” are favorites. Love the cat! Theadora


  8. What lovely photos, Theadora! Looking at this, I can’t help but think of the Samaritaine and wish with all my heart I was connected with the right people to get get one of the rent controlled apartments available after its renovation. Thanks for a beautiful post!


    • Thanks, Paul! Oh, La Samaritaine. I still shop at Zara and Sephora (located on the ground level) but it’s not the same experience. Living there in a rent controlled flat would be a dream come true. At this point, they’re not touching the façade. Thank goodness. Are you going to give it a shot? T.


  9. every woman must have that giant black bag! …ok, the lipstick, too! …maybe somewhere there’s a giant pair of shoes? …that way they might not be needing more than one of each! 🙂


    • Ha! Funny!! But even if I “supersized” my accessories, I’d need a backup bag, lipstick and powder puff. As my grandmother used to say, be prepared!! T.


  10. Hi Teddy

    Printemps sold my designs for years………..paper goods… goods…….placemats. I am an artist, designing for lots of Manufacturers. My photo BLOG is for fun…… Tom Cathey


    • Bonjour, Monsieur Cathey!! Well, your “Tom’s Eye View” site is fun and witty, to boot. I’ve been digging your New York City posts. Printemps? Impressive! Where can shopping and design fanatics currently find your wares? T.


    • Oh, yes!! Oh, no. So you missed Printemps. I love Boulevard Haussmann. It’s one of my favorite hoods in the city. Did you check out Galerie Lafayette’s dome? It’s a stunner. Again, I’m looking forward to your Paris reports!! T.


      • Alas I am not much of a shopper and have failed in such duties……I saw a nice photo of the Galerie and had all intentions of going there…just didnt actually go there though! 😉


    • Merci!! I feel the same way about your “The World According to Mitzie Mee” site. Your shot of the waterfall in Dubai Mall was a beauty. Lovely post!! Theadora


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