“I love Paris when it sizzles.” —– Cole Porter
This morning we toured the Opera Garnier…. fabulous architecture, marble columns, cherubs painted on the ceilings….. Blah, blah, blah!
Sure, the Opera was pretty cool, but before that, we saw something that took my breath away. Yes, friends, sisters, and especially Kate and Emily, I’m referring to the Galeries Lafayette, the grand magazin, the swankiest department store of Paris.
We Chicagoans love our State Street Marshall Field’s, but compared to GL, it’s a Kohl’s. Glitz and glamour are surrounded by gilded balconies under a gorgeous Belle Époque dome. This retail nirvana features boutiques of THE designers: Tiffany, Cartier, Yves St. Laurent, Diane Von Furstenburg, Chanel, Burberry, and lots that this Talbots shopper has never heard of.
Feeling like Elly May and Jethro Clampett, we shuffled along, gawking, while slinky, snooty-looking salespersons dressed in black hovered over their merchandise in fear we might put our grubby mitts on something. I ogled luscious handbags, but I dared not approach them or stroke their supple leather. Surely alarms would sound if I got close. “Non, non, Madame. Ce n’est pas pour vous.”
Chic dresses, couture coats in artful styles and rich colors taunted me. “You in the denim skirt… What the hell are you doing here?”
Just like the shlumpy tourists we are, we took pictures of the dome and the balconies. I wanted photos of the eye-popping displays, but we knew our place and skulked along, camera in check. The likes of us were not going to be allowed to besmirch the garments by snapping pictures to show our tacky friends back home.
We rode the escalator all the way to the top, and the higher we went, the less expensive the merchandise. Cashmere sweaters for 100 euros, a sale on pantalons for 60 euros. I could have browsed around, but Mike? Not so much. The rooftop deck offered us a good view of the city, and then we were on our frumpy way.