Improve your French: Click to hear a short text read on the Grands Magasins (opens with QuickTime Player and Windows Media Player
Public transportation: Line 7 and 9 at Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette
Hours: Printemps is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 8pm and are open until 9pm on Thursdays. Galleries Lafayette is open Monday through Saturday from 9:35am to 8pm and is open until 10pm on Thursdays. Prior to the holidays both stores are also open on Sundays.
Websites: www.galerieslafayette.com and www.printemps.com
In Paris, shopping is fashionable, but it is also historical. In an easy afternoon walk, you can stroll through the history of French commerce from outdoor markets to arcades to the department stores. The first department store in Paris, the Bon Marché, opened in 1838 on the left bank of the city. Within fifty years, the cities fashion and commerce were monopolized by numerous grands magasins where shoppers could find everything they needed under one roof.
Today, Boulevard Haussmann in the Paris 9th is still dominated by two large department stores, Printemps (spring in French) and Galleries Lafayette. Printemps opened in 1865. Its lovely stain glass cupola was installed in 1923, dismantled in 1939 to avoid being destroyed during the war and reinstalled in 1973. The Galleries Lafayette opened in 1895. Named after its original location on rue La Fayette, the store relocated to its current location in 1896 and its glass and steel dome was finished in 1912. Both department stores are veritable institutions with tens of thousands of square feet of merchandise.
To help you prepare for your visit to les grands magasins in the Paris 9th, here’s a short text and the vocabulary in French:
Les Grands Magasins, une nouvelle conception du commerce :
Créés dans les années 1850, les grands magasins sont des centres d’innovations perpétuelles. A l’époque, ils modifient les relations entre les clients et les fournisseurs : prix fixes, libre accès, échange de marchandise, animations (soldes, promotions, expositions, concours…)
Avec le large choix d’articles proposés par ces magasins, les femmes ont la possibilité de rivaliser à moindre prix avec les bourgeoises parisiennes.
Les grands magasins s’adressent aux classes moyennes : grâce à eux, la consommation se démocratise.
Un fournisseur = supplier
Un libre accès = free access
Rivaliser = to compete
Se démocratiser = to become more accessible
Paris is our classroom! Whenever possible, French As You Like It’s teachers enjoy organizing and building lessons around interesting sites in Paris. Call us or contact us here to organize a private French lesson les grands magasins or at another site “off the beaten path” in Paris.
Photo 1 by Wouter Pinkhof, 2005. Photo 2 from Parisinfo. Photo 3 of Galleries Lafayette department store, Christmas 2004 by Jean-Noël Lafargue.