Much like the USA, there are department stores in Paris selling everything from dumbbells to doll houses, hammers to handbags and lipstick to lampshades. But, they do one thing very differently. They have entire floors dedicated to food. Food you can eat at the counter, food you can take away, even fine cuisine with white tablecloths are options for your dining pleasure. In addition to ready to eat items there are literally thousands of specialty products and gift items. On top of THAT, there is often an everyday grocery section. Seriously, you can do your daily shopping for paper towels, cereal and milk at one of the finest stores in the world. Crazy! You’ve got to love the French and their obsession with easily available quality foods for everyone.
There are now 5 “Grands magasins”, department stores in Paris to explore. Each has it’s own personality and clientele.
The best part of the vintage Printemps (founded in 1865) is the modern dining spot on the top floor. Sweeping views of Paris and the gilded domes of the facade are to die for. Set up like a chic food court, you must decide between champagne and canapés or coffee and patisserie (tough choice, I know 😉).
This department store located on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris has been bringing it’s “A game” since 1912. This is where you will find the often Instagrammed stained glass copula soaring over four floors of luxury shopping. The latest addition is an incredible gourmet food hall on the first floor of its central building (of three). Everyone who is anyone has a spot in this coveted space. Pierre Herme, Philippe Conticini, L’eclair de Genie and many more all have outposts in this space. And downstairs, yep, a grocery store for the locals.
Recently reopened after a 16 year hiatus. Samaritaine is an Art Nouveau lover’s dream. Brought back to life after years of painstaking restoration work, the self-proclaimed “Parisians department store” is a golden gem on the Seine. Although the there is not much of a gourmet grocery area, there are several lovely dining options throughout the store. The largest is Voyage, located on the top floor, the best vantage point for the incredible art nouveau paintings around the glass ceiling. And, If you have shopped til you drop, you can always get a room at the attached ultra-luxe hotel, Cheval Blanc. Ooh la la for sure!!
As the most pragmatic of all the department stores in Paris, BHV house the largest collection of hardware, housewares, and home improvement items in the city. But on a more fun note, they have an entire floor dedicated to hobby and crafts, scrapbooking, notebooks and stationary, pens and pencils and pen books in English. There is also a floor for cookware and linens and so many French specialty food items. There is a cooking demonstration area and place to get a bite or a full meal. BHV was once the only spot in Paris to get “everything under one roof” now, it is the most central. Right on the Rue de Rivoli next to the Hotel De Ville with it’s own (indoor) metro stop…nothing could be easier.
Ok. I have to say, I have a soft spot for the Bon Marche. For a long time this was the BEST and only place to scope out luxury, specialty French food items. Over the years, the other Grand Department Stores in Paris have joined the party but this one remains my favorite. Covering 3 city blocks the entire store is massive. But, on one particular corner is the entrance to a foodie’s paradise. The Grand Epicerie is a food hall with gourmet items from across France and the world. Little counters offer products to be eaten on site while others offer food to go (a emporter). And, as far as gifts go, you will find the perfect culinary treat for everyone on your list.
France is known as a shoppers’ mecca and these department stores in Paris are no exception. What sets them apart from stores in the US is the abundance of culinary options alongside the fashion and cosmetics. I would love to help you plan your ultimate Parisian Holiday discovering all Paris has to offer. To get started or learn more about visiting Paris, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a call with me here.
At Gourmet Adventures Travel Co., I craft culinary getaways for travelers who love to eat well and yearn to truly savor the authentic side of their destination. From a river cruise through Provencal wine country to a journey through the heady spice markets and medinas of Morocco, you'll taste your way through the world's most enchanting landscapes.