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Paris is said to have invented department stores (known as les grands magasins) in the 19th century. These stores and shopping centres can be found throughout the city with three being noteworthy:

  • Forum des Halles is the largest shopping centre located in the centre of Paris at Châtelete. It is completely underground and contains its own railway and metro stations. The site it occupies has been the city's principal market since in the middle ages. This shopping centre offers a large selection of chain stores as well as a cinema and swimming pool. On its surface is a garden attracting many people to sit on the green grass and enjoy the sunshine. For more information visit
  • Galleries Lafayette is a large department store spread over two old buildings on the corner of Rue La Fayette and Boulevard Haussmeann. Its notable feature is a beautiful stained glass arched dome roof. From the roof which has a restaurant and the food court on the top floor, there are views over Paris. The store itself has a large range of perfumes and lingerie.  
  • La Samaritaine is an upmarket right bank department store on the Seine. It takes its name from an old water pump that once drew water from the river at this location. The pump had a picture on it from the bible story of the Good Samaritan. The store now occupies four buildings. The café and observation deck on the roof of the main building offers a 360 degree view of Paris.

Most major towns throughout France have at least one department store with a large supermarche section as well as other stores - Monoprix is a good general purpose clothing store. Hypermarches are large and cheap places to buy food.

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