Saturday, December 13, 2008

me, gawking at Galeries Lafayette

Two nights in Paris are insanely short. But opportunities like the one I had in the summer of 2004 don’t come frequently so there I was, living in a singular suitcase, skimming through Bergen, Haugesun, Oslo (Norway), Copenhagen (Denmark) and finally, Paris.

There are a lot of things one can say about Paris – expensive, aloof, proud, chic, delightful – but boring is not one of them.

Take Galeries Lafayette.

Probably the most famous of all stores in Paris, it puts the oomph in shopping long before malls sprouted all over the world. Galeries Lafayette started as a small garments accessory store in 1890 and in less than 10 years became so successful that the company purchased the buildings around it. In 1912, the glass and steel dome and Art Nouveau staircases were built and an icon was born.

Galeries Lafayette dome, dieux

Finding my way to Galeries Lafayette was easy. I took the metro and alighted at the Havre-Caumartin, Opéra stop. The 10-storey building was instantly recognizable with its giant and spectacularly loud window displays. Inside, the shopping choices were astounding. Money seemed to be spilling as people elbowed each other to purchase anything. Signs of soldes were everywhere. I barely attempted to peer what were on sale for I knew I could not afford them anyway.

Art Nouveau dome

I headed to the cosmetics section and there it was, the dramatic glass dome. Too bad my point and shoot could not take it all in – the curlicued ironwork, the stained glass angels, the carved cornices, the almost delicate pillars – as no angle was wide enough to fully capture its magnificence. The Art Nouveau staircases and cast-iron balconies framed the gigantic sphere like skirt trimmings under a Christmas tree.

dome of Galeries Lafayette

Lest you forget, take the time to climb unto the popular roof terrace which offers a breathtaking view of Paris. It is free and open and you can enjoy the scenery as long as you want. There was Eiffel Tower, tall and distinctly lording over the wonderfully. Sacre Coeur stands robust and solid at the other side. Suddenly, Paris can be quiet from above, even meditative.

Some of the best things in life can well be free.

Galeries Lafayette
40, boulevard Haussmann, 9th Arrondissement

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Anonymous said...

Incredible architectural dome!
Great photography, the detail is fantastic...they don't build them like this anymore!
Great work.

Farl said...

ESP- so true! it will be bloody expensive to even build something like it.

thanks for the comment.