The Bon Marché
By: Maggie Barker
The food court at the Bon Marché is truly a spectacle. There is a whole separate, multi floor building right across the street from the main building dedicated to food. The separate building, called La Grande Épicerie de Paris Rive Gauche, sells anything and everything related to food. There are several sit down restaurants as well as food stands where people can get food to go. However, most of the food court area acts as a grocery store. Overall, the food court matches the high end vibe of the rest of the department store.
In total there are nine sit down restaurants throughout the Bon Marché, several of which are located in the food court. Even the restaurants located inside La Grande Épicerie de Paris are very nice. When exploring the food court, we decided to eat at Iovine’s which is a traditional Italian pizzeria located on the lower ground floor of La Grande Épicerie. The food was incredible, and the restaurant was sleekly decorated. Other restaurants inside the food court include La Table which serves French food, La Marée which serves fish, Maison de la Truffe which has a menu centered around truffles, Monte Nevado which serves meat, and the Juicerie which is known for its juice and healthy menu. Despite the many restaurants found inside Le Grande Épicerie, the restaurants are not the main focus of the building.
The main attraction of the building can be found on the ground floor where the food stands and grocery store area are located. There are so many different stands with countless different kinds of foods. They had Italian food, Asian food, cheese, charcuterie, pastries, Spanish food, and much more. There was even a little stand that was entirely devoted to different kinds of olives. The strange thing about these food stands, however, is that there is not a little area with tables and chairs inside La Grande Épicerie to eat the food from the stands. All the food looked so delicious, but we were deterred when we had nowhere to eat it. Between all this food, there is practically an entire grocery store. As we were wandering through the aisles, we were all truly amazed at the abundance of food. Even though the food was just displayed on shelves, it still looked delicious. There was every type of food imaginable in the grocery store. It was incredible to see an entire grocery store located in a department store.
Overall, the feeling and look of La Grande Épicerie matched that of the main building. The grocery store feels similar to high-end grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Everything is neatly displayed on shelves, and it is not overcrowded. Furthermore, the food stands all had several workers behind them waiting to help the consumer and serve the food. The food was pristinely displayed behind glass which made it feel high-end and expensive. La Grande Épicerie is incredible and on-brand with the Bon Marché as a whole.
The Galeries Lafayette
By: Eliza Spratt
Inside one of Paris’s most famous department stores, Galeries Lafayette, you can find just about anything that you could possibly need. From expensive makeup to high end clothing and accessories, you can only thoroughly explore the seven floor building if you dedicate a multitude of hours to the process. Most importantly, while doing so, the department store offers its customers a variety of dining services to satisfy their hunger after a hard day’s work of shopping. In the building dedicated to women’s fashion, located on Boulevard Haussmann, you can find multiple restaurants, all of which tend to be on the fancier side. What I found surprising is that all of them were very busy, going to show just how many people Galeries Lafayette attracts on an everyday basis. To make sure that I got a good look at every food option in the department store, I worked my way up floor by floor.
On the first floor dedicated to women’s luxury fashion, jewelry, perfume, and accessories, you can find a multitude of options. Right in the midst of handbags belonging to couture designers, like Alexander McQueen, there is a caviar bar and restaurant with the name of Le Bar Kaspia. Around the corner, you can find the sections of the floor that are set aside for designers like Chloe, Céline, and Gucci. Le Bar Kaspia was very busy, and after looking at the menu, it looked extremely expensive. Yet, the consumers with large shopping bags with names like Hermès and Louis Vuitton on them enjoyed their expensive meal after dropping thousands of dollars on couture. Around the corner, you can find a Pierre Hermé stand that sells chocolates and macaroons, which in my opinion do not compare to those of Ladurée. If you continue to walk, you come across Angelina, a French café and tea house, well known for its incredible hot chocolate. There were a multiple of people sitting behind the regal ropes of the café to enjoy tea and the restaurant’s breakfast-styled menu. Ultimately, the first floor of Galeries Lafayette had many great options.
On the second floor, which is dedicated to more contemporary fashion, there is a French café with the name of “Vue sur Coupole.” There, they sell French desserts and pastries, as well as sandwiches and other options. A lot of the table options overlook the lower levels of the department store, so customers can observe the multitude of shoppers as they eat their croissant. On the next floor, also dedicated to women’s fashion, you can find a Starbucks as well as a museum like restaurant dedicated entirely to Chanel. On the fourth floor, which contains swimwear, gifts, and luggage, shoppers looking for a quick bite to eat can go to the McDonald’s that Galeries Lafayette provides. Finally, on the 6th floor, dedicated entirely to books and stationary, you can find a cafeteria styled area, where all kinds of cuisines are provided, including sushi, desserts, French dishes, and pizza. Maggie and I enjoyed 2 scoops of delicious gelato while sitting at a table that overlooks Paris while we were here. This was the most crowded food area in the Galeries Lafayette because I feel as if it provided the most options for shoppers. The 7th and final floor has an amazing rooftop bar and restaurant that overlooks the entire city, where shoppers observe a picturesque view of the Eiffel Tower.
Across the street from Galeries Lafayette, also on Boulevard Haussmann, is Lafayette Maison and Gourmet, a section of the department store dedicated entirely to home and food products. On the -1 floor, there is an incredible luxury food items market that has bright and beautiful colored produce, in addition to a butcher, a fishmonger, and everything else you could possibly imagine. This area was extremely busy, with shoppers collecting their fresh produce for the week. On the second floor, there were areas where you enjoy French cuisine, in addition to utterly delectable pastries, macaroons, and bread. The fine pastries were the colors of the rainbow, and everything about this floor was very aesthetically pleasing. On the first floor, you can find cooking utensils and appliances, as well as champagne, wine, and spirits to enjoy with the macaroon you buy from the floor below. The top two floors were dedicated more to home products, as they did not have any type of food options here.
The Bon Marché vs. The Galeries Lafayette
By: Eliza Spratt and Maggie Barker
To begin, both the Bon Marché and the Galeries Lafayette have entirely separate buildings devoted to food. Beyond this, the first similarity we noticed is that both department stores sell kitchenware and appliances as well as items like china and glassware. These products range from everyday, average priced items to the more luxurious and expensive commodities. In addition, both department stores have sections where consumers can purchase groceries, ranging from fresh produce to meat and pasta. Although both department stores offer kitchenware items and have grocery sections, it seems as if the shoppers are more so there for the restaurants and the grab and go food. We noticed that the grocery sections were not over crowded with people doing their grocery shopping and not too many people were browsing for a mixer or set of china. But instead, the main attraction of these buildings seemed to be the freshly prepared, ready-to-eat food.
When it comes to the grab and go food, we noticed two main differences. One of these differences was the contrasting style between the two. In the Bon Marché, there were a lot of options to choose from, ranging from delicious looking Asian food to authentic French cuisine. People hovered around the stands trying to decide what exactly would satisfy their hunger. Once the consumer decides what they want, an employee places the selected food into plastic to-go containers, and the consumer pays at the stand. However, at the Galeries Lafayette, it is more like a cafeteria. The consumer picks up a tray and moves across the different windows which offer varying types of food. There is a soda fountain where the consumer can select what drink they want. The last window is dedicated to desserts, so the consumer can finish the meal with something sweet. The second main difference we noticed is that unlike the grab-and-go styled Bon Marché, the food court of the Galeries Lafayette is designed for consumers to sit and eat. There are plenty of tables to seat the all of the customers who have just gotten their food. This was a serious advantage because at the Bon Marché, there was not anywhere to sit after you grabbed your food, which could potentially deter a lot of customers.
Another difference between the Bon Marché and the Galeries Lafayette is that the Galeries Lafayette has a significantly larger amount of restaurants than the Bon Marché. In both the food hall and the actual department store, the Galeries Lafayette has restaurants ranging from fine dining to McDonald’s. On the other hand, while the Bon Marché does have restaurants, it does not offer as many options as the Galeries Lafayette. The department store itself does not have many dining options, and the food hall of the Bon Marché only contains around four restaurants.
Ultimately, it seems as if the Bon Marché, with its minimal number of restaurants and lack of seating, is designed for customers to grab-and-go, while the Galeries Lafayette provides for more of a sit-down experience. Also, these differences seem to fit the different vibes of the departments stores with the Bon Marché being more exclusive and the Galeries Lafayette being more welcoming. In the end, the way in which both department stores have separate buildings dedicated solely to food is a very interesting concept that is not seen very often in America.