Guide Tour of Printemps Haussmann, Paris, France

Printemps Haussmann is a department store owned by the Printemps Group located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris and where the main fashion, beauty and home decoration brands are distributed. They are distributed by theme in the store’s three buildings (27 levels and 45,500 m² in total). The facades and roofs (except the modern elevation) of the old stores (current Printemps de l’Homme) are listed as historical monuments by order of theJanuary 15, 1975.

Founded in 1865 by Jules Jaluzot, Printemps is one of the French leaders in fashion, luxury, lifestyle and beauty with 17 fully owned and operated department stores in France. As trendsetters, the 3,000 Printemps employees welcome 60 million visitors each year with a unique sense of service.

Since its creation in 1865 by Jules Jaluzot, helped by his wife Augustine, Printemps has never stopped reinventing itself. Anticipating major societal changes, putting ourselves at the service of all, sublimating beauty by favoring more responsible consumption and offering a feeling of perpetual surprise.

Printemps benefits from a remarkable cultural and artistic heritage. In 2015, the flagship store located on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris celebrated its 150th anniversary. Printemps continues to look serenely towards the future and boldly celebrates its renewal, because more than ever, everything starts in Printemps! New visual identity, new color codes, new spaces, new services, new concepts and hundreds of new products, all exclusive and original.

As an authentic Art Deco architectural masterpiece, Printemps Haussmann is definitely the most beautiful Parisian building dedicated to retail. Covering more than 50,000m², the Group’s flagship gathers together the most outstanding fashion, luxury and beauty labels. The store also offers exclusive concepts (Le Sneaker, L’Endroit…) and personalised services in order to provide an exceptional shopping experience to over 22 million French and international visitors each year.

The store’s façade has been declared a historical monument and the panoramic rooftop view of the Paris skyline is quite simply glorious. After a short elevator ride and a few steps up the escalator, you’ll be treated to a beautiful 360-degree view of Paris. Take a break for lunch at the Brasserie Printemps, both for the food and to admire the exquisite stained glass dome overhead.

The department store brings together luxury, homeware, fashion, the largest beauty department in the world, a space dedicated to circular fashion on the 7th floor under the splendid Binet dome, an entire floor dedicated to shoes, plus a food section that includes some of the biggest names in fine produce and gastronomy. The range on offer is vast.

Across its three stores on Boulevard Haussmann shoppers can find hundreds of luxury brands, from the biggest names to the latest, in-the-know designers. Labels include Dior, Chanel, Saint Laurent Paris, Hermès, Jérome Dreyfuss, Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno and Erès. From fashion to beauty, wedding lists, lingerie, accessories, perfumes and home decor, each department boasts a carefully curated selection of current and future trends.

Printemps is open 7 days a week, the customer service is exceptional. To make your shopping as pleasurable an experience as possible, customer service options include personal shoppers, a tailoring service, hands-free shopping and express delivery. If you come from abroad, you can take advantage of personalised services, such as a bilingual guide to help with your purchases, delivery to your hotel or home address anywhere in the world and tax refunds.

In 1865, the young entrepreneur Jules Jaluzot and his wife, Augustine, established the “Printemps Department Store”, with the ambition of creating a new temple of fashion and the avant-garde in a rapidly changing Paris. Jaluzot had its first store built at the crossroads of Boulevard Haussmann and Rue du Havre, despite its distance, at the time, from the living heart of Paris. He may foresee the development of this district and the opportunity offered by the proximity of the Saint Lazare train station.

It was the beginning of an exciting adventure, marked by a century of societal, technical and architectural revolutions. The crowds rushed to discover the latest innovations: from the first hydraulic lifts to iron and glass architecture to electric lighting, just four years after Edison’s patent. Ravaged by fire, threatened by wars, Printemps has witnessed many events and has been the showcase for the inventions of its time.

Incredible design details, including an immense glass dome on the sixth floor of the Mode (Fashion) building, an Art Déco masterpiece that is now a listed historic monument. Fully renovated, the dome has regained all the luminosity of its original blue tint with touches of green. It caps the largest restaurant room in the capital, allowing visitors to enjoy a unique culinary and artistic experience in an atmosphere of understated elegance.

Built at the end of the 19th century, the visionary founders of the original Printemps building on Boulevard Haussmann wanted it to be a monument to be visited. So, the greatest artists of the era, including many who had worked on the Opéra Garnier and the Expositions Universelles, were employed to decorate it.

The inauguration takes place on November 3, 1865, in the presence of the parish priest of Saint-Louis d’Antin who comes to bless the store at the request of Jaluzot. This very first Printemps store has large windows that reveal vast galleries and seems to form a kind of large covered market supported by columns. Printemps then had 17 counters and a complete assortment for clothing and home.

In 1866, Printemps innovated and launched the principle of sales as we know them today: rather than hiding outdated or faded products, they were sold at bargain prices every year. This principle seduced the crowds and, although the economic recession was spreading. But in July 1870, the Franco-Prussian war was declared and a large majority of Printemps’ 250 employees had to join the National Guard, considerably slowing down the store’s activity untilseptember 1873. The stocks kept allow the trade to resume its activity immediately.

April 1874, Printemps Haussmann is expanding: not only is its development taking place in height, with the rental of new floors, but its surface area now also extends to two houses on rue de Provence, close to boulevard Haussmann. Iron bridges connect the buildings to each other, and Jaluzot innovates by integrating two elevators into its buildings (created by Léon Edoux and presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1867), instruments that were totally new and unheard of in stores at the time; in the press, one can even read “lifts of Vienna, great success”. They will advertise Printemps Haussmann and will be a great attraction for children.

The department store gradually absorbed the neighboring buildings of the initial building and continued its development in 1881: it now has a fourth facade on rue de Caumartin. The Old building eventually collapses cause a fire broke out on March 9, 1881, Only the buildings recently acquired rue de Caumartin escaped the disaster.

At the start of 1882, the architect Paul Sédille erected the structures of the new building, which would be completed in 1883, notably installing the electricity and using the first compressed air foundations for a civil building (a technique used for the construction of bridges). The burnt part is rebuilt, and the old surviving buildings are also demolished, in order to ensure the harmony and complete modernity of the new neo-classical style building.

The curtain walls are stone veneers on an iron frame. The 10,000 m 2 retail space is spread over the first three of the eight floors. They are comprised between four rotundasin cut stone located at the corners, Sédille taking inspiration for these structures from fortified castles. Their domes are crowned with gazebo-shaped lanterns above which sits a weather vane in the shape of a caduceus, a symbol of prosperous commercial success.

The central nave rising to 24 meters is overhung by a huge glass roof that lets the light filter through. A convinced supporter of polychromy and the benefits of the cooperation of the decorative arts with architecture, Sédille involved artists in most of the buildings he built: Carrier-Belleuse was in charge of the sculptures of the rotunda, including the domes are decorated with Art Nouveau mosaics by Facchinawhich reveal the Au Printemps sign in gold leaf enclosed between two glass tesserae, which makes them shine in the sun; leaves carved in stone or wrought iron, monumental columns adorned with women’s faces, statues of women in a row, allegories of the four seasons due to Henri Chapu.

The two semicircular wings of the main facade are adorned with large Corinthian pilasters. Customers can admire the inauguration day theMarch 5, 1883the architectural and technical innovations of the new store: a layout ensuring a functional space, still recognized today by art and architecture historians as the prototype of the department store and the modern industrial building, the appearance of iron as a visible element of decoration (beams, stairs) and no longer as the only frame of the building, and a brand new reassuring lighting (Jablochkoff hearths, arc lamps and incandescent lamps which replace gas lighting), highlighting the products on sale.

To improve the presentation of items for sale, the new director Laguionie is convinced that the store needs more space so that a maximum of goods can be seen by customers. The enlargements took place under the direction of René Binet who had a large central staircase with four revolutions installed in the main hall, which symbolized an ascent: it was not only more functional, but also decorative. At the same time, Laguionie is also opening a new room in the basement,rue Joubert, rue de Mogador and rue de Rochechouart, and the acquisition of new locations rue de Caumartin and rue de Provence.

In 1907, Laguionie launched the construction of a new building which, from 1908, opened several of its new galleries at the corner of rue Caumartin and rue de Provence. It is connected to the older store by a basement. April 1910 the inauguration o the New Stores takes place. At the time they occupied about half of the surface of the current Printemps de la Femme. The style of the new building, topped with a dome and a terrace, is close enough to that of the Sédille store to retain a certain homogeneity. The architectural innovations do not go unnoticed: the new octagonal hall is perceived as daring, the ironwork of the balconies and stair railings is an achievement in the art nouveau style, the lighting of the new building astonishes, and the new panoramic elevators amaze the visitors.

In 1912, with the birth of the new arts, then of the decorative arts, Printemps offered catalogs of furniture and crockery: it was the art workshop Primavera, whose pieces were made in two workshops in Montreuil. The first mannequins arrived in Printemps windows during the First World War. Mannequins are specially created for Printemps: their original style sets them apart from mass-produced models.

In 1923, the great master glassmaker Brière reinstalled the two stained glass domes of the New Stores. From 1924, Printemps Haussmann began to organize exhibitions and create an event within its buildings. For example, an exhibition is organized every year in January to mark the white season. Since its reconstruction, the Printemps on boulevard Haussmann has also given priority to displays: its showcases representative of fashion are works of art that bring all of Paris to visit. It was also at this time that the concept of animated Christmas windows was created, which moved large crowds.

In 1951, Printemps Haussmann occupied four buildings, three of which were dedicated to sales. It has two escalators and twenty-two elevators. It also has a hairdressing salon, a tea room-restaurant, a theater and travel office, a photography studio and a book rental service.

In 1953, the “Fifty Years of Parisian Elegance” exhibition took place. In 1962, Pierre Cardin created a special collection for Printemps. While Christmas windows have existed since the 1920s, Printemps innovated in 1973 by using puppets in animated windows, and no longer automatons. In 1972, the dome was restored by the grandson of the master glassmaker Brière, according to the plans kept in the family workshop.

In 1975 the facades and rotundas of Paul Sédille’s building (current Printemps de l’Homme) were listed as historic monuments.

In 1978, the “Rue de la mode” was created. In 1980, Jean-Jacques Delort was at the head of Printemps. He wanted to relaunch a wave of store modernization and give the chain prudent development: to do this, Delort wanted to design a 10,000 m 2 Printemps store in each regional metropolis which would be an exact replica of Printemps Haussmann, both in terms of management and marketing methods than on that of the assortments on the shelves. Printemps Haussmann is therefore the reference store of the chain.

From 2007 to 2012, a 30 million euro renovation project was carried out for the 14,000 m 2of facades (i.e. 520 linear meters) of the two buildings on Boulevard Haussmann, the Printemps de l’Homme and the Printemps de la Femme, which are 120 years old and 80 years old respectively. The objective is to reinforce the store’s image as a “masterpiece of decorative art”, and to make its buildings models of architectural avant-garde, as in the early years of the store.. On this occasion, the stripping of different layers on the facade (plaster, paint) caused certain original mosaics to reappear.

Today, Printemps Haussmann spans three buildings (Women’s, Men’s and Beauty-Maison-Enfant) over more than 45,000 m2.

Guided tour
The guided tour is an exclusive tour including two installations which highlight the historic heritage of the Printemps. This VIP tour takes you behind the scenes of Printemps for the first time, from the basement of the department store to the rooftop terrace, with its breathtaking view of the capital, by way of the famous Art Deco dome. With privileged access to secret passages, you can admire the highlights of Printemps including the floating stairs and the hidden face of the majestic 20-metre diameter glass dome that sits above the 50-metre tall building.

This guided tour will reveal the secrets of the architecture, history and operation of the department store. Designed as a vertical journey, you will discover one of the most beautiful views of Paris from its zinc roofs, before going down into the underground galleries. The vital infrastructure and the workshops where mirror and glazing specialists and carpenters practice their crafts will be revealed behind each open door in this maze of corridors.

From the sky to the basement, from the Second Empire to the 21st century, from neo-classicism to the contemporary era, via Art Nouveau and Art Deco, omnipresent in its architecture, this tour is a journey to the heart of the heritage of the department store and its transformations over more than 150 years.