This post is brought to you by Galeries Lafayette.

Freedom and Independence

The white t-shirt with the breezy blue script reading “j’♥ Paris” was a staple in my wardrobe for many years, a souvenir of my very first trip abroad, the first time I tasted freedom and independence from my parents. (Ironically aided by the bit of spending money my parents gave me for souvenirs and gifts, but still.) I had bought it in a Paris department store – no street vendors for me. I wanted to shop like a grown-up French woman!

France taught the United States everything we needed to know about freedom and independence back in the 1700s, and I felt it on that trip.

For me, as a teenager, that meant shopping.

As an adult, I know that it’s more than a little crass to liken consumer choice to the essential liberties for which our forebears fought, but bear with me.

Americans in Paris

Today, shopping in Paris means many different things, from combing the flea markets at St. Ouen, to pampering in the ultra-luxury shops in the Place Vendôme. But nothing compares to the experience of shopping in the grand department stores of Paris.

This month, one of the largest of those, Galeries Lafayette, is offering American shoppers special deals in their flagship store in Paris to celebrate the American Independence Day.

Galeries Lafayette has been home to Paris fashion since 1912, when its soaring art deco cupola first sheltered the 45,000 square meters of retail floor space below. Now encompassing more than 75,000 square meters, the Galeries Lafayette Hausmann offers shoppers thousands of choices, all arranged with a certain Parisian style.

Galeries Lafayette remains home to cutting edge fashion for both men and women, with fashion shows every Friday. Personal stylists are available, as are VIP lounges. The men’s store at Galeries Lafayette is among the largest dedicated menswear spaces in the city.

The store has always been a home to gourmet food and wine. Today you can choose from more than 20 restaurants within the store, from caviar and macarons to dim sum and, yes, hamburgers. Lest you think that is too American, the Bordeauxthèque will bring you back to France with a collection of historic vintages next to affordable current offerings.

You can’t get much more French than this: in 1951 Edith Piaf performed a concert in front of the store.

The rooftop terrace at Galeries Lafayette, from which visitors can view the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre, is a cherry on top for visitors. Or is it a strawberry? Also on the rooftop: a strawberry garden, because why not?

Celebrate American Independence in French Style

For the Fourth of July, and all throughout the month, Galeries Lafayette offers a curated selection of patriotic gifts for Americans in Paris. Their shop windows feature animations that all visitors will want to see.
Right now, American citizens who visit the store receive a 10% discount just for showing their passport at the Concierge Desk.

In addition, with certain minimum spending, American shoppers not only gain access to the Express Tax Refund Desk and Lounge Area, but also a cruise on the Seine River!

Wherever you do your shopping, if you live outside of Europe, be sure to stop by the tax refund counter in the store to receive a refund of the 12% VAT that is charged on purchases. You will need to show your passport and your receipts, and there is usually a minimum purchase amount, but you may be able to receive the refund on the day of your purchase in the store. If not, you may receive it at the airport, before you go through security.

This post is brought to you by Galeries Lafayette, 40, boulevard Haussman, 9e arrondissement.