Right next to Galleries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann is Au Printemps. Printemps (French for “Spring,” as in the season) was founded in 1865, by Jules Jaluzot and Jean-Alfred Duclos. The store was designed by noted architects Jules and Paul Sédille and opened at the corner of Le Havre and Boulevard Haussmann, in Paris France on 3 November 1865. The building was greatly expanded in 1874, and elevators (then a great novelty) from the 1867 Universal Exposition were installed. Rebuilt after a fire in 1881, the store became the first to use electric lighting, in 1888. Jaluzot was replaced as owner in 1900 by Gustave Laguionie, after the business came close to collapse. In the early 20th century, the building was then extended along the Boulevard Haussmann by architect René Binet in an art nouveau style. The building burned down, and its interior was rebuilt in the 1920s. The figures of the Four Seasons on the façade were sculpted by French sculptor Henri Chapu.
This is another huge building with the lovely detailing on each corner. Printemps was one of the first department stores with direct subway access, the Metro being connected in 1904 to Havre-Caumartin, line 9. The policies of Printemps revolutionized retail business practices. The store marked items with set prices and abandoned the haggling that had previously been standard in retail shopping. Like other grand magasins (literally “big store,” department store) Printemps used the economies of scale to provide high quality goods at prices that the expanding middle-classes could afford. They also pioneered the idea discount sales to clear out dated stocks, and later the use of window models to display the latest fashions.
Here are some examples of their latest fabulous window displays. You can see from these examples why they are so well known for the window displays. The concepts are totally cool and the execution must have taken months (click on the picture to enlarge).
The famous towers house stairs which are now not used. Beautiful marble bouquets flank the stairs.
Here is their latest ad campaign, you have to admit, they really make great advertising.
The store itself is just as elegant, marble floors and beautiful fixtures with the merchandise displayed in uncrowded simplicity. This store reminds me of a Neiman-Marcus or Saks but more upscale. Also it looks very contemporary as opposed to Galeries Lafayette, due in part to the numerous renovations starting with the 1920’s fire, which destroyed the store.
Around the escalators, they have these charming displays.
In the basement they have lingerie, accessories and the metro access. Not quite a whole floor of lingerie but still more than enough selection. This store is a little confusing since it is actually two buildings connected by walkways.
On the second floor they have an entire floor of watches. If you are looking for a watch as a fashion accessory or just to tell time, this is the place. Watches for every budget with all the top brands.
On the second and third floors they have women’s fashions.
They have a program in which they develop special relationships with designers and feature them on these floors. Here you will find designers and collections which are specifically for Printemps and its patrons.
On the fifth floor they have an entire floor of shoes.
Finally on the sixth floor are designer fashions and the famous domed Printemps restaurant. This is a very different sort of department store from Galeries Lafayette. This is a curated collection and while the major brands are in both stores, it seems Printemps makes a major effort to be fashion forward with featured designers and exclusive products. Like Galeries Lafayette they also have separate buildings for men and for the home. Since they are located side by side on Boulevard Hauseman, you can judge for yourself which you like best. If you love shopping, you really should visit.
Printemps Site in English: http://departmentstoreparis.printemps.com/