Paris: Smooth Sailing at the Department Stores

Smooth Sailing: “First fashion show held in the air” Lord & Taylor, 1931 (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

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.

O, My Deer: Schedule your shopping sprees during one of the citywide sale periods (Image: T. Brack)

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.

Printemps, Bon Marché, and Galeries Lafayette are located along the Métro 12 line (Image: T. Brack)

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.

Work it, Dasher! Bon Marché is also located along the 12 Métro line (Image: T. Brack)

Work it, Dasher! Bon Marché is also located along the 12 Métro line (Image: T. Brack)

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.

La Vie en Rose: Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann (Image: T. Brack)

La Vie en Rose: Don’t miss the Au Printemps house marque (Image: T. Brack)

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.”

Flawless: Brummell is the name of the house brand for men at Printemps (Image: T. Brack)

5. Free Fashion Shows

Galeries Lafayette offers free fashion shows on Friday afternoons. Prior to your trip, book a seat at fashionshow@galerieslafayette.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.”

Galeries Lafayette offers free fashion shows on Friday afternoons (Image: T. Brack)

Galeries Lafayette offers free fashion shows on Friday afternoons (Image: T. Brack)

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.

I can see your halo: View of L'église de la Madeleine from the rooftop café at Printemps (T. Brack)

I can see your halo: View of L’église de la Madeleine from the rooftop café at Printemps (T. Brack)

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!”

Santé!

Bliss: The wine is affordable and the view of the Eiffel Tower is free at Printemps (Image: T. Brack)

Purple Haze: View of the Eiffel Tower from Printemps (Image: T. Brack)

Upside Down, Boy, you turn me: Location:  Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann (Image: T. Brack)

 

 

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51 thoughts on “Paris: Smooth Sailing at the Department Stores

    • Thanks, Violet! The grand magasins in Paris are worth a peek and gander—even if you’re not a shopper.

      They often coordinate free art exhibits. A few years ago, Printemps featured Mr. Brainwash’s King Kong. The original Wild Thing was made of recycled tires and was two stories tall. The Cracking Art Group’s Bunnies have also held court along Boulevard Haussmann. Also, Dior was recently celebrated at Bon Marché with multi-media show.

      All three exhibitions were fantastical!
      T.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love it. I want to go to there!! I love love love shopping (especially sales), but have been trying to control myself since don’t want to pack my closet full of maternity garb that I may never again wear… but after this baby comes out and I get my figure back (hopefully), I’m going on a spree!! 😉

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    • Again, Bravo!! How exciting!! Enjoy every moment. Have you found any maternity garb treasures? Your secret is safe here. 😉

      (Have you shopped in Paris during the Big Sales? Any tips?)

      Enjoy the weekend,
      T.

      Like

  2. It must be an adventure just to gaze in at those window displays with all those details. I love the thought of rooftop terraces with views like that too. It would be impossible to have to get up and leave!

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    • Yes, Sheila! You’d love it. It is often impossible to leave the rooftop terraces—especially at sunset with a drink and a book in hand. I’m looking forward to visiting BHV’s terrace. The wine list looks very interesting.

      I’ll post another dispatch!
      T.

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    • Merci! You’d love the bookstore at Galeries Lafayette. Great views and a fabulous selection! Chairs, also. Located on the 6th floor, I’ve spied sketchbooks, along with fiction and non-fiction reads. It’s another favorite haven.

      Enjoy the week!
      T.

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    • Merci! Did you visit any of the department stores during your recent jaunt to Paris?
      Theadora

      (Is Sadie still cat napping in her paper bag? What a cutie!)

      Like

  3. Sounds totally fab, dearest Theadora; however, The Tin Man must decline. On Bastille Day, Tinny will be celebrating his 60th birthday and is off to The Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC, and after…….drumroll please……off to visit the illustrious Virginia in her country home!!!! Yes…..she is feeling strong enough for guests and we will invade her Paris in Canada home and bask in her love. You, my dear, shall be in all our conversations!

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    • Wow. Wow. Wow. I am pea green with envy, Monsieur Tin Man. Your birthday is just around the corner. And Oh, my! Celebrating with Virginia. I am thrilled. As she would say, “I am over the moon.” What fun you will have: Chitchat, food and wine. Ah, I’m already looking forward to your dispatches and photographs from the cuisine.

      Bon Anniversaire! Et Bon Voyage!
      T.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How lovely….the “vitrines” of Paris are hard to beat. As for the summer sales – alas, not for me this year, but who knows what is ahead in 2016? Thanks for the rooftop tips – I may just flit from elevated bar to elevated bar on my next visit!

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    • Ha! I love your “flitting from elevated bar to elevated bar” line. Yes, I’m looking forward to spending time on BHV’s rooftop. I’ve always loved their café, located on the top floor, especially at sunset. It’s a fabulous place for people-watching. (I usually trek it there after seeing an exposition at Hôtel de Ville or shopping for hardware supplies on the basement level. It’s an amazing department. They’ve got it all.)

      Cheers!
      T.

      Like

    • Thanks, Alexander! It was hazy day. The cloud cover was thick as pea soup.

      (Here’s a question for you. Did you take any interesting self-portraits while you were in Paris?)

      Enjoy the week!
      T.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely post- I remember the first time I saw the grand magasins of Paris! Wow… I was definitely impressed. In addition to these department stores I was big a fan of La Samaritaine- I am curious to see what it will look like after the makeover. Wish I could hop on the metro right now and find a few things at “Les Soldes d’Eté”. 🙂

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    • Thanks for sweet words, Tieshka! I was also a big time fan of La Samaritaine. Another lovely rooftop. And a fabulous train exhibition during the holidays. My last purchase was a pair of mustard colored socks. I still have them. Do you have a favorite department store in Paris?

      I loved seeing your recent shots of Paris!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Theadora- it was fun to put together that post after watching the French Open on television daily for two weeks! I really like Galeries Lafayette myself and the whole area around the Opera…..When I daydream I daydream about Paris. Luckily my Italian husband is a fan of Pairs as well. The last 12 years I’ve become a bigger fan of Italy as well- especially Florence, but no where in Europe will ever be as special to me as Paris. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Tieshka! I also love the area around the Opéra. So many interesting little shops and restaurants. Here I have a favorite sewing supply boutique. It’s been there for years.

        Italy? Lucky you! I’m also a fan: Rome, Florence, and Venice . . . Sigh. Now I’m daydreaming . . . 🙂

        Happy travels!
        Theadora

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    • Thanks, Richard! I also dig the surreal upside down Paris. Tom Haugomat is the name of the illustrator. Very talented! I love his work.

      Have a great weekend!
      T.

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  6. It is a well known fact that I dislike paying full retail. What fun is that? It is the thrill of the hunt. The excitement of discovery. The incredible rush when you find THE ultimate bargain. I will joyful admit my daughter and I spent an incredible amount time on the 4th floor of Galeries Lafayette scoring outrageously beautiful, lace and be-ribboned and just a tad scandalous lingerie and all on sale. Exhausted we had to revive ourselves early in the day with a little wine and nibbles so we could continue our bargain hunting safari to other shops. Meanwhile back on The Farm the kitchen blackboard is covered with lists and possible menu’s to celebrate the arrival of The Tin Man and Augustine. The only thing missing from this is Theadora. XX V.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Virgina, I love your Galeries Lafayette story. Yes, the entire floor is dedicated to lingerie. It’s also one of my favorite havens in the city.
      I’ve spent entire late afternoons, browsing. And speaking of exquisite mid-shopping nibbles and wine, G.L.’s food department recently re-opened. They always pack the wine in a gorgeous ruby red-colored boxes, even the inexpensive bottles. And they’re always very friendly. Handsome, too!

      Another favorite nook in Paris!
      Theadora

      (And I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming dispatches from The Farm!)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I lived in Paris for several years and I do confirm that your addresses are excellent… 🙂 btw, if you ever come down to Toulouse, I’ll take you to Andorra(2h-drive) for summer or winter sales with NO taxes(duty free!) – deal?! 😉 I’ve been in Andorra for this weekend, but not for shopping, just for des super-randonnées pyrénéennnes…
    * * *
    friendly thoughts and mille merci pour ta présence à mon modeste blog… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merci, Mélanie! As always, thanks for your sweet words. And thanks for the shopping tour guide offer. I appreciate it. It’s a deal! Toulouse is on my must-see list.

      Enjoy the week!
      Theadora

      (Do you have a favorite grand magasin in Paris?)

      Like

  8. Theadora– you’ve done it again. Made me long to come to Paris– even if just for the summer sales! But my favorite lure is the roof top views with a glass of wine– and reading through the comments/your responses gave me more places to put on my list. Great post again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, thanks for your thoughtful words, Rhonda! I agree. Rooftop + glass of wine = Bliss. You would also love Galeries Lafayette’s bookshop. Great reads! The macarons on the third floor are also pretty wonderful. A fabulous view of the store from the balcony.

      Enjoy the weekend!
      Theadora

      Like

  9. Amazing, amazing, amazing! You never cease to amaze me, T! Yet another fabulous, fabulous Paris post!

    Like

  10. Wow, the idea of doing vintage shopping at a department store in Paris is stunning; at least I’m stunned! What fabulous pictures by the way–I love your rooftop series! Take a sip for us ahd shop, shop, shop ’til you drop!

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    • Dear Kathy and Deb,

      Oh, you’d love the vintage clothing shop in BHV. I was quite surprised to spot the boutique. My eye spied more than a few bargains. As always, thanks for your swell words! I’m already looking forward to your nifty Friday dispatches from the thrift shops.

      Enjoy your weekly hunt!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Shopping the sales, rooftop view of the tower and wine…it sounds wonderful. I hope you have been a savvy shopper and made some great buys.

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    • Thanks, Karen! At the department stores, I usually window-shop and test beaucoup fragrances. Then I head to the rooftop at Printemps. With a glass of wine in hand (no plastic cups, here!), I never fail to get weepy.

      My favorite haven in Paris!
      Theadora

      Like

  12. Chérie, je te suivent depuis longtemps, vos articles sont toujours intéressante et belle, talentueuse.
    Carissima, ti seguo da tanto tempo, i tuoi articoli sono sempre belli e interessanti, bravissima.
    Ciao Vanni 🙂

    Like

    • Oh, Vanni. What sweet words! As you know, I’m a big time fan of your photography. 🙂

      I’ve been enjoying your recent “Pin Up Fashion” series at the Vintage Roots Festival in Inzago, Milan. Fantastical! I love the clothesline in the background. Your shots of the pin-up beauties are timeless.

      Flawless, too!
      Theadora

      Here’s a link to Vanni’s “Pin Up Fashion” series: https://offphoto.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/beauty-will-save-the-world/

      Like

      • Grazie Theadora, I appreciate what I have written, I also really love the last shots that I did, but I also love your blog so full of beautiful pictures and lots of information about a city that I love.
        Ciao Vanni 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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