Paris – 9th arrondissement

I have been to a lot of department stores in my life. San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Miami, London, Berlin, Munich, Rome, Venice, Florence, Stockholm, Taipei, Tokyo, you name it. Because I love to shop, I've been to a mall in many a major city all over the world. That being said, there is no store I have ever visited that even comes close to the Galeries Lafayette on Haussmann Boulevard in Paris; not in sheer beauty, design, variety, selection, grace, elegance, price—not on any level. This is the great shopping experience the world has to offer, in my opinion, and the view of Paris from the roof is even better than from the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. Just look at it!! Are you kidding me?

Don't care about men's or women's fashion? Don't worry. Just go across the street to the Lafayette building dedicated almost entirely to food. I always thought the KaDeWe building in Berlin had a stunning selection of gourmet food, but the Galerie in Paris just destroys it. Three floors of nothing but food products from all over the world. Right when you walk in there's a Petrossian counter and mini-restaurant. I looked at my wife and said, "Why not?" When isn't it a good time for caviar?

Most of the producer counters have little tables set up along side so you can do a little dégustation while you're perusing the products. Considering a tin of the high-end Petrossian stuff runs a whopping 1200 Euros per canister, it's nice to have the option of ordering a small sampling. We both got the French caviar plate, served with picked veggies, romaine with dressing, bolied potatoes, crepes, and 12.5 grams of expensive fish eggs with your choice of Champagne or ice cold Russian vodka. My wife did the bubbly, but I did the vodka. That was a first-time combo for me. It does pair wonderfully.

Got an extra 930 Euros to spend on a jar of black truffles? They're here if you want them, just down from the row of hanging Spanish Iberico hams for 650 per leg. It's a veritable wonderland of haute nourriture.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll