The store has been undergoing a massive renovation programme of late, with the opening of Espace Luxe on the first floor, featuring luxury prêt-à-porter and accessories and nine avant-garde designers. They also unveiled a vast new shoe department in the basement featuring some 150 brands. The men’s fashion space on the third floor, Lafayette Homme, has natty designer corners and a ‘Club’ area with internet access. On the first floor, Lafayette Gourmet has exotic foods galore, plus a vast wine cellar including its own Bordeauxthèque from 2010. Now that’s how to shop in style.
The city's oldest department store, opened in 1848, is also its most swish and user-friendly, thanks to an extensive redesign by LVMH. Luxury boutiques, Dior and Chanel among them, take pride of place on the ground floor; escalators designed by Andrée Putman take you up to the fashion floor, which has an excellent selection of global designer labels, from Lanvin to Claudie Pierlot. Designer names also abound in Balthazar, the prestigious men's section.
In the magnificently appointed Printemps you'll find everything you didn't even know you wanted and English-speaking assistants to help you find it. But fashion is where it really excels; an entire floor is devoted to shoes, and the beauty department stocks more than 200 brands. In all, there are six floors of men's and women's fashion. In Printemps de la Mode, French designers sit alongside all the big international designers. The Fashion Loft offers a younger but equally stylish take on current trends. Along with furnishings, Printemps de la Maison stocks everything from tableware to design classics. For fast refuelling, Printemps has a tearoom, sushi bar and Café Be, an Alain Ducasse bakery. Or head up to Le Déli-cieux, on the ninth floor of Printemps Maison, for a drink on the terrace with wonderful views across Paris.
Unless you’re after a space suit or a pair of parabolic skis, you’ll find pretty much everything worth looking for at BHV MARAIS: fashion, beds, sneakers, door knobs, pressure cookers, vintage dresses, Campbell’s soup, oil paint, suitcases, cushions, gluten-free waffles, earrings, toys, hats, laptops, foie gras. (Breathe.) Detergent, foreign novels, coffee, candy, washing machines, gourmet pâtisseries, postcards, craft beer, lipstick, designer chairs, wrist-watches, sake, perfume or the last issue of Monocle. (Aaand breathe again.) Since its major renovation in 2014, Paris’s six-storey department store has even made room for cooking classes provided by three-star chef Alain Ducasse’s staff and a Kure Bazaar « nail bar » in case madame suddenly endures an acute manicure attack.
People queuing in the rain for Marks and Spencer’s? Has the world gone mad? Or is George Clooney giving away free luxury hampers? As odd as it may seem to Brits (for whom M&S is as about as exotic as its signature multi-packs of pants) queuing outside is business as usual for M&S since the chain opened its new flagship Paris store in November 2011.