Saturday, August 6, 2011

Le Grand Magasin

Today was the day of Le Grand Magasin - the department store.  Paris does not mess around when it comes to department stores.  There are three primary grand magasins - Bon Marche, Printemps, and Galerie Lafayette.  All are ridiculous in their own special way.

We started off at Le Bon Marche, which is over in the 7th.  Our nominal objective was to look for an outfit for Baby Oil to wear to Uncle Oil's wedding next month.  Mission impossible, as it turns out.   The baby clothes section was full of baby Burberry, baby Dior, and the like.  Not exactly our speed.  After striking out there, we thought we would check out the "clothes for the weekend" section.  Strike two - unless you want to pay 130 euros (roughly $170) for a shirt.

And then we found ourselves at the topmost level, which is a throwback to department stores of bygone days.  Ribbons, string, fabric, buttons - anything you would need to sew or repair your own clothes or even make your own curtains.  For instance:

Accepting the truth that we will never purchase anything other than a button or perhaps a lovely tassel at a Parisian department store, we set off for Galerie Lafayette.  Where I discovered another important aspect of Le Grand Magasin - the food.  These department stores have at least one cafe or restaurant on every level of the store.  Of course, if you want to wear any of the clothes, you can never eat a meal - but for those of us mere humans who simply want to take in the scene, and pay through the nose for a cappuccino, it is pretty great.

Galerie Lafayette takes it one step further with the food court to end all food courts.  Have you ever seen a department store with produce like this?

Which brings me to my continuing lessons in macarons.  Conveniently, both Sadaharu Aoki and Pierre Herme have locations within the store.  At Sadaharu Aoki, I tried the coffee-flavored macaron and at Pierre Herme I went with reglisse et violette - which is turns out is licorice and violet.  Both were delicious.  I'm definitely looking forward to sampling more flavors - both have traditional chocolate, caramel, vanilla as well as more unique flavors like wasabi (Aoki) and olive oil & mandarin (Herme).  Yum.  The other chocolates and patisseries at Aoki looked amazing as well:

Paris department stores are also, of course, not simply located in large commercial buildings. Oh no.  All of them are in gorgeous old buildings - Printemps has a gorgeous exterior:

while Galerie Lafayette boasts an incredible interior:

Suffice to say, Paris takes window shopping to the next level. Please note that I am not including the photo Mr. Oil took, which is of a large advertisement featuring a virtually naked woman on the side of Galerie Lafayette.

And finally, I would just like to take a minute to discuss the conspiracy against baby boy dress clothes.  This city is filled with adorable, lovely, and not so-expensive-that-you-just-have-to-laugh baby girl dresses.  But try finding one wedding-appropriate outfit for a 7 month old boy.  Even baby Gucci had nothing to offer (aside from a 165 euro romper that reads: "Baby's First Gucci). 

Finally we spied a small store across the street that featured formal event attire for baby boys and girls.  And as much as my mother-in-law has asked that Baby Oil wear something blue, we simply cannot bring ourselves to put him in this:

The non-blue options were yet more absurd and I don't even have a photo of the one that looked like the puffy pirate shirt from that Seinfeld episode. Here's another winner:

Baby Oil of course slept through most of our shopping trip for him so he doesn't know that we either a) don't love him enough to buy baby Gucci or b) love him too much to make him look like a sissy.