Thursday, December 19, 2013
Christmas Shopping in Paris
When I told my mom that I was going to Paris last weekend, she replied, "It sounds so luxurious - pre-Christmas shopping in Paris!" And I hadn't thought about it too much (of course, I'd thought about shopping, just not specifically about what it'd be like to shop in Paris right before Christmas), so I wasn't quite prepared for the spectacle that is Paris department stores at Christmas time. Simply ah-maz-ing.
The tree above is from Galeries Lafayette, one of the three major (luxury) department stores in Paris. The displays in these stores really put Selfridges and certainly Nordstrom to shame. I've never seen anything quite like it. Classy, elegant, yet completely over-the-top, the artistry found in these visual merchandising masterpieces was utterly impressive. Outside, the lines to simply look at the interactive window displays (which were really, really delightful, I must admit) snaked around the corners. My French co-worker, who, like many others in my office, is a native Parisienne, admitted to me in an email that she makes a "pilgrimage" each year to see the Christmas windows. Aside from its impressive collection of designer goods (for example, the store has two separate Longchamp concessions on different floors), the domed, stained glass ceiling of Galeries Lafayette (which you can see a part of in the photo above) is its main attraction. It's for this reason that the store has become more of a tourist attraction than a shopping destination.
We then made our way to Printemps, and I will refrain from re-telling our traumatic story of how one security guard managed to ruin our visit and possibly our day (except to say that you should never take the stairs as an alternative to the overcrowded escalators, unless you would like to be physically assaulted and verbally threatened by the guards), where I took in the gorgeous display at Prada, which included two mock elevators that "opened" to reveal rotating mannequins and their luxuriously distinctive leather bags.
And of course, the Chanel perfume counter looked appealing, as it does in every city, but particularly so in Paris (though this photo is from Galeries Lafayette, rather than Printemps):
After we had our fill of jostling elbows and I grew tired of cooing over YSL heels and Celine handbags, we wandered over to the Marais for smaller boutiques (with similarly jaw-dropping prices). And would you believe it? I left Paris empty handed, save for a small box of macarons from Pierre Herme and a beautiful silk scarf for my mom.
There's always next time.