Founded in 1852, Le Bon Marché has emerged as the city's chicest department store. Long a hunting ground for linens and other home items, it has been undergoing a multimillion-euro facelift that brings fashion to the fore. The fact that this department store isn't nearly as crowded as those near the Opéra is an added bonus. On the ground floor of the main building, look for makeup, perfume, and accessories; this is where celebs duck in for essentials while everyone pretends not to notice. On the floor above, you can do laps through labels chichi (Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Lanvin) and überhip (Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Ann Demeulemeester). The next floor up is home to streetwise designers, edgy secondary lines, plus French favorites, including Athé by Vanessa Bruno, Zadig & Voltaire, Tsumori Chisato, Isabel Marant's Étoile, and Majestic. Under the newly-restored glass ceiling, the gleaming Le Soulier shoe department assembles the crème de la crème of European shoes.
Meanwhile, the refurbished menswear department, Balthazar, has consumed the entire basement level. Across the street, the spanking new home store in the sister building is a great place to stock up on French linens, porcelain, cookware, and luggage, or just relax over tea or a gourmet lunch in the soaring atrium restaurant. Before leaving, be sure to visit the spectacularly renovated La Grande Épicerie and cave (wine shop): it's the haute couture of grocery stores. Artisanal jams, olive oils, and much more make great gifts, and the luscious pastries, fruit, and huge selection of prepared foods beg to be chosen for a snack.