When our class took a group tour to Montparnasse, we went to see the view from the top of the highest building in the area, the Montparnasse Tower. As we came back down and were waiting for the rest of the class outside, I looked around and was shocked to see another Galeries Lafayette only a few feet away from me. It looked so different from Galeries Lafayette Haussmann that I would not have noticed the other location if I had not seen the iconic cursive lettering on the building of the department store. Although the department store is not in proximity to where we are focusing on our walking tour, I thought it would be interesting to write a smaller story on the alterative location. Thus, I went back to explore Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse and was extremely surprised with what I found.
To begin, Montparnasse, or the 14th arrondissement, is a much different area than that of the flagship store in the 9th arrondissement. Montparnasse is not nearly as aesthetically pleasing, and the beautiful buildings, resulting from Haussmannization, that are so prevalent on Boulevard Haussmann rarely exist in the area around the Montparnasse location. The area seemed run-down compared to the 9th arrondissement, so much so that I questioned why they would put a second Galeries Lafayette in that location, especially when the first location is so incredibly grand. When I went back to explore the Montparnasse department store, I quickly realized that the quality of the store aligned with the somewhat run-down feel of the neighborhood. For starters, the building of Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse lacks any sort of charm. I would compare its looks to that of an American mall of mediocre quality. The building is a sliver of the size of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, as it only has one floor located on the ground level. The architecture of the department store is extremely rectangular and boring, contrasting greatly from the round building and intricate details of the flagship store.
The interior of the building is very underwhelming and could be compared to a Nordstrom or Dillard’s located in the United States. The products that Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse offers are known for not being nearly as nice as those that the flagship store prides itself on. Everything you find in the Montparnasse location, you would be able to find in the flagship store, but not the reverse, as the high end designers are exclusive to the Boulevard Haussmann location. The Montparnasse store definitely attracts a different type of customer. Because everyone across the globe desires to see the beautiful dome and architecture of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse does not have nearly as many tourists. In fact, although it does not provide as much of an experience as the flagship store, the Montparnasse location is a lot less crowded, making it easier to find what you need. Further, unlike Galeries Lafayette Haussmann which provides you with multiple food options during your shopping expeditions, Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse does not, which could diminish the customers’ overall experience in the store. Ultimately, similar to the façade of the department store, the interior of Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse is far from memorable.
In addition to exploring Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse, itself, I also looked around the other parts of the building. There, you can find other stores and some restaurants and a set of stairs that lead you to even more restaurants and stores. The entire structure of the building was so confusing that I was unable to discern whether these stores and restaurants were considered part of Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse or not. There are signs for Galeries Lafayette directly outside of some of these amenities, which only added to my confusion. In the end, I was not in any way impressed with the Montparnasse location nor confident in my total understanding of the site, and it became immediately evident that if I wanted to buy anything from a Galeries Lafayette location, I would gladly face the multitude of tourists at the flagship store to make my purchase.