Shopping in Paris: Galeries Lafayette Pampers Travel Advisors

Galeries Lafayette  is a shopping mecca for Paris locals and visitors.
Galeries Lafayette is a shopping mecca for Paris locals and visitors.

The euro-dollar exchange rate hasn’t been this favorable in over a decade, meaning U.S. travelers to France are scoring major bargains on designer handbags and other luxury goods. (A big perk is the 12 percent tax refund.) The place to go on a shopping spree in Paris is Galeries Lafayette, the fashion mecca that’s a true one-stop shop for both ultra-chic labels and more affordable finds.

Since its debut in 1894, Galeries Lafayette has established itself as one of the world’s great monuments to shopping. Adorned with a striking stained-glass dome, the iconic department store on Boulevard Haussmann is also a major tourist destination in the City of Light. Though this grand magasin is a historic landmark, it continues to lead the pack with cutting-edge innovations (like the exclusive new Apple Watch corner).

The Department Store (Top) is known for its historic architecture as well as for its très haute couture.
The Department Store (Top) is known for its historic architecture as well as for its très haute couture.

A buzzworthy enticement is the exclusive shopping service available to Virtuoso clients. On a recent stop by Galeries Lafayette, Luxury Travel Advisor scoped out what’s in store for these lucky guests. After arriving at the VIP welcome desk (located through the store entrance on rue Mogador), you’ll be whisked to the private, second-floor Virtuoso Premium Lounge for a complimentary glass of champagne. Designed with plush couches and coffee table books, the lounge is a peaceful respite from the bustling store, where you can try on clothes or surf the Internet while the multilingual staff takes care of the tax refund forms. The team is also a wealth of information about the city of Paris and can act like a hotel concierge in securing restaurant reservations and the like.

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You’ll get a 10 percent discount card with a welcome kit and a Paris Guide. If you’re staying in a Virtuoso hotel, you’ll get a roundtrip transfer to the store with a private driver. Best part of all? Access to a personal shopper who has the inside scoop on all the latest fashion trends and knows the store inside-and-out, hence saving you time in tracking down that perfect find. For requests and reservations, send an e-mail to [email protected]

Note to travel advisors: This offer can also be extended to non-Virtuoso members, if you make a direct booking with Galeries Lafayette.

The Department Store (Top) is known for its historic architecture as well as for its très haute couture.

For the crème de la crème of shopping experiences, Galeries Lafayette boasts La Suite, a private sanctuary on the top floor reserved for VIP guests (it’s also offered for the Virtuoso Reserve program). Decorated with contemporary art and furniture conceived by renowned designer India Mahdavi, this sky-high aerie is like your own private apartment with terraces overlooking the Paris rooftops and Montmartre. La Suite can be booked with a two- or four-hour personal shopper session, or the entire sprawling space can be privatized for a half day.

Tip: After scoring some fashionable finds, we highly recommend a stroll through Lafayette Gourmet, the magnificent food hall that was newly unveiled last fall. Now located in a separate building across the street from the men’s and women’s stores, this gourmet emporium showcases some of France’s finest epicurean delights. There’s chocolate by Alain Ducasse, pastries by the trendiest pâtissiers in town (like Christophe Adam of L’éclair de Genie), a spice market and not to mention the glorious wine cellar.

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