Eating in Galeries Lafayette (9th arrondissement)
Going to the huge department store, the Galeries Lafayette along Blvd. Haussmann, is an event in itself, a tourist attraction in its own right. Built in 1898, it sprawls over three buildings and takes up whole city blocks. Go there to do shopping, as thousands do, or just to gawk at all the merchandise, at the throngs of shoppers, and especially at the lovely architecture with the gorgeous belle-epoque dome. You can get a good look at the dome from any of the lower floors.
You can also go up onto the roof (walk up stairs from the 6th floor) for a wonderful view out towards Opera Garnier and over the city and a meal at the café up there (in season). Many people sit and enjoy the sun and fresh air, bring a sack lunch or a sandwich.
It’s also fun to eat at one of the café-restaurants on the 6th floor. We especially like the self-service Lafayette Café, with a bank of windows facing the Opera. They have a very large selection, from pastas, a salad bar, cooked food, a dessert bar, pre-prepared plates, breads, and plenty of drinks. It’s a good, easy system, as you take a tray, choose what you want, pay and find a seat. It’s perfect if you’re shopping, but also great just to go there to eat, as we did. Even though it’s cafeteria-style, the food is excellent and always fresh, and it’s very well used, by tourists and locals alike. It’s a similar style to the upper-floor cafeteria in BHV (Bazaar Hotel de Ville), another big department store next to the Hotel de Ville (we’ve eaten there a couple of times too, and enjoy sitting with a view of the massive Eglise de St-Gervais).
Walking around the Opera Garnier area is also a lot of fun—to look at the actual building and its ornate architecture, but again also to watch the people, as this is a must-do place in the city and all the city sightseeing buses come by here. Opera is also a big metro stop and the Roissy bus from Charles de Gaulle Airport terminates here. It certainly is a magnificent building and on a sunny day the shiny gold bits are even more shiny. ***More on Opera later.