One of the great perks of traveling Europe is getting to see the different designers and fashions that have yet to make it to the United States. Get ahead of the curve and visit these 10 gorgeous European malls and shops. I have had the opportunity to visit 8 of these fashion spots and each time have walked away so inspired by the mannequins.
GALERIES LAFAYETTE – Paris, France
You could easily spend a day in this huge store. While it is a tad on the expensive side, similar to Saks or Neiman’s, it is such a fun spot to browse. There is a cafe for lunch too! If you can, visit during the holiday season. The outside is done up with gorgeous lights, and the main center has an enormous and beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
PRINTEMPS – Paris, France
Similar to Lafayette, this is a huge and somewhat-pricey shop, but it is such a beautiful building that it has earned a stop on many tourists trips. What Printemps does have, is an amazing rooftop terrace. You MUST take the escalators up to enjoy a phenomenal view and a glass of champagne.
LE BON MARCHÉ – Paris, France
Opened in 1848, this was the first department store EVER. It is such a beautifully arranged store, and how could any fashion-lover not go to the birthplace of the ever-so-convenient department store? While the look to this store is similar in design to that of Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marche is typically much less crowded.
HARROD’S – London, UK
With over one million square feet of selling space in 330 departments, Harrod’s is a London icon. Brands such as Balmain, Saint Laurent, and Burberry have what I like to call mini-shops within Harrod’s. While each floor is typically divided by department, each brand gets its own little section exclusive to them. I have spent many hours wandering the beautiful racks of clothes, but obviously have never been able to afford to purchase anything. To ease my sadness, I would always end my trip to Harrod’s on the bottom floor Food Hall where there are endless souvenirs, sweets, and meats.
SELFRIDGE’S – London, UK
The largest shop in the UK, after Harrod’s, is Selfridges. While many come here to shop, Selfridges has become a tourist draw because of its architectural innovation. This is a particularly popular spot during the holidays because it is known for it’s elaborate and magical window displays. Though the displays change throughout the year, the Christmas displays are by-far the most popular, even with locals.
GALERIES ROYALES SAINT-HUBERT – Brussels, Belgium
This gallery has managed to bring the outside in. With wide hallways and storefronts that look like they’re outside, the glass ceiling lets in natural light so you truly feel as if you’re shopping outdoors. There are two major sections: King’s Gallery and Queen’s Gallery, each about 100 meters in length. A street intersects between the two and at this point you will notice that there is a slight bend in the gallery, which was created to make the gallery seem less tedious. This is definitely where you want to be if you want good chocolate, to go to the movies, or just relax at the cafe and people watch.
KADEWE – Berlin, Germany
Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe for short, is the largest department store in Continental Europe with 60,000 square meters of selling space. Here there are 8 floors, but luckily they each have their own focus, so you don’t have to search through them all to find that LBD. Known for having “two football fields of food,” the entire top two floors are dedicated to just that. The top floor has a garden with a restaurant that can seat 1000 shoppers and glass ceiling and walls.
DE BIJENKORF – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This chain of department stores has its flagship in Amsterdam and the building could not be more amazing. The company started out as just one little shop, and as their business did, so did the building. This building was not completed until 1909 so it is slightly more modern than most on this list, but it still fits in with other Amsterdam architecture. I really appreciate that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb like most department stores do these days; it didn’t appear to be a department store from the outside. Fun fact: these department stores are now owned by the Weston family, owners of Selfridge’s.
GALLERIA ALBERTO SORDI – Rome, Italy
Even though it is much smaller and filled with boutiques rather than popular designer shops, this mall is absolutely gorgeous. It truly brings the outside in, with it’s storefronts that have the most amazing hand-carved moldings. From the outside it looks like a museum, but the stained glass ceilings let in natural light and add beauty to the shopping experience.
GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II – Milan, Italy
This is my favorite mall. I was enjoying a gelato cone and wandering around admiring the Duomo when I decided to go inside the building next to it. Like others on this list, it is an indoor/outdoor mall that has an amazing use of natural light from the arched glass ceilings. Your neck will hurt from looking up at the amazing architecture, hand-carvings, and beautiful paintings above the shops in the center of the mall. The floor is made of classic tiling and features a mosaic in the center. According to tradition, if you spin around three times with your heel on the mosaic of the bull’s testicles, it will bring you luck. I didn’t learn this until after my trip, so I can’t verify it’s validity.
Great list by MSN Travel, descriptions by me. For more pictures and information, visit the MSN Travel slideshow here.