The flagship store of the biggest upscale department store chain in Europe is located in one of the most stunning buildings in Paris.
The Galeries Lafayette in the French capital is just one of 65 branches of this popular store and is definitely the most impressive one.
You don’t have to actually buy stuff to enjoy the beautiful architecture in one of the most remarkable stores you’ll ever come across.
Here are some facts about the Galeries Lafayette and its history, as well as more details about the beautiful building of this popular store.
1. It’s located just north of one of Paris’ most opulent buildings
The Galeries Lafayette is the name of a chain of department stores of which the main store can be found in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
The store takes up several blocks along Boulevard Haussmann. This is a major thoroughfare in this part of the city that was established during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III in the 19th century.
The buildings are located just north of the Palais Garnier, the main opera house in Paris and one of the most opulent buildings in the city.
The store is also easily reachable because the metro station called Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette is located right next to it.
2. It was established by two French businessmen in the late 19th century
What has become the huge chain of stores today was established in 1894 on the corner of the rue La Fayette and the Chaussée d’Antin.
Back then, the store was nothing more than a so-called haberdasher, a small fashion store that sells items related to sewing, dressmaking, and knitting.
The founders were the French businessmen Théophile Bader (1864-1942) and his cousin Alphonse Kahn (1864-1927).
3. Galeries Lafayette started expanding after 2 years in 1896
Both Bader and Kahn were very ambitious and acquired the entire building located at 1 Rue La Fayette in 1896. Before that, the store only occupied a small space inside this building.
This was a pivotal moment in the history of the Galeries Lafayette department store because of its success.
It not only resulted in the expansion of the main branch in Paris but also the expansion to other cities in France and Europe.
Today, the chain of department stores can be found in 65 locations and it generates an annual revenue that exceeds 5 billion euros.
4. It was designed in the popular architectural style of the early 20th century
The expansion continued in 1905 when they acquired the buildings at 38, 40, and 42 boulevard Haussmann and 15 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin.
This was just over a decade after their first small store was established and less than a decade after they acquired the first main building.
These newly acquired properties were completely redesigned and became the epitome of Art Nouveau architecture in Paris.
This distinctive style first emerged in Brussels with the buildings designed by Victor Horta and quickly spread to Paris. The entrances of the metro stations were designed in this style as well.
5. The most prominent feature of the building is the stunning glass dome
The entire floor space of the flagship store in Paris is 70,000 square meters (750,000 square feet), a huge area that is divided among several buildings.
One of the most fascinating facts about the Galeries Lafayette is that the original store in 1894 only had a floor space of 70 square meters (750 square feet), just 0.1% of what it is today.
The Art Nouveau staircases that lead up to the upper levels of the department store are beautiful but pale in comparison to the amazing dome of the Galeries Lafayette.
This beautiful feat of architecture stands 43 meters (141 feet) tall and also incorporates neo-Byzantine elements.
6. The store’s buildings were renovated in a new style in the early 1930s
The building was completely renovated in the early 1930s and this transformed the various structures of the store in Paris into remarkable Art Deco Buildings.
The buildings were renovated once again following the Second World War and they remain a popular attraction in Paris today.
7. The rooftop features a bar and restaurant that offer amazing views of Paris
Apart from shopping and admiring the building’s architecture, you can also enjoy a drink or meal inside this large shopping and entertainment complex.
The Galeries Lafayette also has the option to visit the rooftop of the building which features amazing views of the nearby Palais Garnier and other landmarks in Paris.
The view towards the Eiffel Tower is dominated by the green roof of the La Madeleine church, a prominent Neoclassical building in the city.
8. The best time to visit this amazing structure in Paris is at night
The main store of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris is decorated with a massive Christmas tree that dominates the entire interior of the store during the holidays.
It’s no exaggeration when I say that the exterior of the store is definitely just as impressive at night because it’s illuminated with thousands of lights.
It definitely adds a lot of flair to the nickname of Paris, “La Ville Lumière” or “The City of Light,” don’t you think?