Paris: Smooth Sailing at the Department Stores
By Theadora Brack
Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away! Calling all bargain hunters: It’s that most wonderful time of the year in Paris. “Les Soldes d’Eté” launch today (Wednesday, June 24, 2015). I look forward to the “Sales of Summer” all year long.
In celebration, here are a few new tips for scoring big at the centuries-old grand magasins during this sizzling five-week affair to remember.
You know the thrill, so crank up the printer.
1. Timing is key
Schedule your shopping sprees during one of the citywide sale periods. The “Soldes d’été” typically launch in June, while “Les Soldes d’hiver” (winter sales) kick-off in January.
Also, the department stores unveil their “Vitrines de Noël” (holiday windows) sometime during the first two weeks in November. As soon as the exact 2015 date is announced, I will post it.
2. Getting there
Bon Marché, Printemps, and Galeries Lafayette are conveniently located along the Métro 12 line, while Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV) is sitting pretty, right next to the Hôtel de Ville Métro stop.
Buy your Métro tickets by the 10-pack. “Un carnet, s’il vous plait!” are your magic words. Avoid the masses by shopping during the weekday mornings or afternoons.
3. Tourist Discount Cards
Two of the four big stores offer tourist discount cards: BHV and Galeries Lafayette. You’ll save 10 percent on selected items throughout the stores.
To score G.L.’s “Exceptional 10% Discount” card, present your passport at the information desk, located on the store’s ground floor near the rue Mogador entrance.
You’ll find BHV’s “-10% offer*” discount voucher on their website. Prior to your trip, print it, and then present it at the welcome desk, along with your passport.
It’s just that easy. The process takes about five minutes. Just do it.
4. House Brands
Don’t miss the house brands. Affordable, well-made, and sporting souvenir-worthy labels, the collections feature handbags, scarves, tops, and sweaters. During the two big annual sale periods, price tags are slashed by 20 to 50 percent.
Plus, Galeries Lafayette and BHV’s house brands are often eligible for the tourist discount. So do request your card. As my grandmother put it, “It all adds up.”
5. Free Fashion Shows
Galeries Lafayette offers free fashion shows on Friday afternoons. Prior to your trip, book a seat at email@example.com. They’ll send you a voucher, along with directions. The shows takes place in the “Salon Opéra,” located on the 7th floor in the main store. Dress code is “smart casual.”
6. Fine Vintage at BHV
Dear Second-hand Roses, BHV now boasts a new “Vintage Clothing” department. Here you’ll find retro garb, along with bags, scarves, hats, and shoes. During one of my recent sleuthing trips to the shop, I spied more than a few big name trench coats, but without their usual exorbitant price tags.
7. Rooftop Views
For years now, I’ve carried on a torrid love affair with the rooftop paradise at Printemps. Here, the wine is affordable and the panoramic view of the Tour Eiffel, the Opéra Garnier, and Sacré Coeur is free. Galeries Lafayette also sweetly tempts me with its faux green grass and funky red plastic chairs and outdoor sofas.
But now, there’s a new roof in town. Not to be outdone in the potted plant department, this summer, Le BHV Marais is now flaunting its very own rooftop terrace. Inspired by the Greek islands, BHV’s “Perchoir Marais” opens each night after the main store closes. Through October 31st, 2015.
I’ve just requested the wine menu. Pinching from the “Happy” tune by Pharrell Williams, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof!”