Rooftop eating in Paris, on the cheap!

One of my favorite treats when visiting Paris is to eat lunch at the Galaries rooftop sevenLafayette department store.  While others admire the view from the Eiffel Tower, what is a view of Paris without the Eiffel Tower in the it?

The Galaries Lafayette is at least a familiar name to those that take the Metro, as the large advertising signs are full of the latest sale and newest clothing at the store.  The store itself is a wonder, more like a fanciful opera with stained glass and balconies stacked upon each other.  The stage is of course the shopping.

It's a STORE!  Not the opera!

It’s a STORE! Not the opera!

Enjoy the levels of shopping, but your goal is the rooftop cafe!  There can be no greater joy that sitting on the rooftop of the Galleries Lafayette on a sunny Spring day with a gentle breeze blowing.  All around you is Paris, Montmartre on one side, the old Opera on the other, and in the distance, the Eiffel Tower standing out like a celebrity.  You almost have to pinch yourself with happiness, knowing how lucky you are to be here on such a perfect day.  Springtime in Paris isn’t just a song, it is an experience.

I know my memories of sitting with my husband on the rooftop, gentle breeze and a clear sky with all of  Paris around me, will be ones I will think of over and over.  Sometimes when you are in the midst of a truly perfect moment, you stop and acknowledge it.  I always take a moment when at the cafe to think of how lucky I am to be there.

The first time I lunched there I remember thinking “How did I ever end up here?”  I had grown up simply, a family without much money and that which we had was spent on the sons.  I never imagined I would one day be in Paris.  It wasn’t even thought of.  It was what people in the movies did, but not Kitty.  I didn’t even dream of doing it, because it was as impossible as going to the moon.

I had been prepared to be aloof to Paris the first time I went. I was living in rooftopo fiveerBrussels but my husband wanted to travel to Paris for a visit.  There was no excitement on my part, and I remember telling my husband “Why don’t we just stay in Brussels, you know Paris will be full of tourists?”  Instead, my disdain for Paris lasted until my first view from afar of the Eiffel Tower.  It was like seeing a celebrity.  I was star stuck for a city, and have been ever since.  Sitting quietly having lunch with my husband on a rooftop in Paris, is always like having a special date with the city I love.

rooftop two

… as you can see Mark always dresses up for Paris. I’ll keep him anyway, he convinced me to go in the first place!

You may wonder how expensive this lunch is going to be, considering the location of the restaurant.  Not to worry, the food is served simply cafeteria style.  It’s simple and well made, and you can even have a glass of beer or a small bottle of wine.  I usually get a beer, sit back, and enjoy a well made piece of quiche or my favorite chicken with new potatoes.

rooftop three

I’ve never found the cafe over run with tourists.  Perhaps because I am careful not to go to Paris during the summer invasion season.  I’ve never had to wait for a table.  In fact, sometimes it has been hard to find anyone to take the required photograph of you with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.  My husband and I were surprised one year (before we had digital cameras) to discover the person that had taken out photograph “Please one of us together” had left out the Eiffel Tower (the point of the photograph of course!).  The average customer when we have been there are  simply shoppers, having a quiet and simple lunch with their friends.  They don’t see what the big deal is about having a photograph with the Eiffel Tower!  We now are clear “One with the both of us and the Eiffel Tower please!”

What happens when your view is not lined up with what the lens sees.

What happens when your view is not lined up with what the lens sees.

So, a simple meal but what could be the best view of Paris, and a photograph to remember.  Just pick a beautiful sunny Spring day. You’ll find there is no other place you would rather be at than the Galleries Lafayette rooftop cafe.

Categories: paris, Travel, Women

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5 replies

  1. I love this! I also enjoy Paris, and I so related to what you said never dreaming about Europe. When we were kids, My mother spent summer vacations taking us to the 49 states that you could drive to, but Hawaii, and certainly Europe, were at the ends of the earth. But growing up like that means that I take NOTHING for granted, and I am especially grateful for every trip and adventure. Great post! I am so far behind in my blogging, but am looking forward to catching up on yours. You are a great storyteller!

    • thanks, it’s so good that unlike some other travelers (you know the type I mean) you are “wow this is great!” rather than “The room is too small, the weather is not good, the tourists are just too much….” I often feel like shaking some people (gently) and saying “You went to ITALY! Did you ever even dream you would ever go as a child? Tell me the good part!” (I will listen to the bad part of any trip after the good part!) Travel is such a wonder to me still, I am glad my children, who even lived in Europe, are also still travelers with awe.

      • I understand. My kids are well traveled–they grew up with it, like I did, but much of their adventures have been international. They grew up knowing how fortunate they were, and it hasn’t lost its magic for them. My son is in Argentina, teaching on a Fulbright scholarship, and because there was no school during Holy Week, he and some teaching colleagues rode a bus 19 hours each way, just to get a peek at Chile. Glad to have met you!

  2. I love, love, love the Galeries Lafayettes cafeteria! Good food, great people watching and a million dollar view to boot. What’s not to love? Other good top floor eateries I love I’m Europe are at Au Printemps next door to Galeries Lafayettes in Paris where yo don’t get the views, it is more expensive, but you get to eat under the glorious Art Nouveau glass dome, La Rinascente in Milan where you can set on a balcony overlooking the Duomo ramparts, and also at Il Corte Ingleses in Barcelona where you get a beautiful view of the city, including La Sagrada Familia if you sit in the right bit.

    Great post, thank you!

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