Apple opens largest European store-in-store in Paris

Apple opened its largest European Apple Shop to date on Thursday, inside the FNAC Digital store on the chic Boulevard Saint Germain in central Paris.

The Apple Shop is a store in a store, a model Apple uses where it considers setting up its own retail outlet inappropriate.

FNAC SA, a retailer of books, music, videos and consumer electronics, plans to open four or five Apple Shops in its stores in France this year, said Fabien Sfez, CEO of FNAC France. The Paris store is the second of those: a much smaller one opened inside FNAC’s store in Lille last week.

The chain also operates stores in Italy, Spain and Switzerland, and is considering opening Apple Shops in some of those, Sfez said.

The 300 square meter area devoted to the Apple Shop is split in two: half is a demonstration area, staffed by Apple employees, while the other half, an accessories store staffed by FNAC employees, is where the money changes hands.

Almost the whole of Apple’s range of notebooks, desktop computers and iPod music players is on display — but there wasn’t quite room for the Mac mini, according to Apple staff present at the store’s opening.

Another absentee was the iPhone: for now, Apple will only sell that in its U.S. stores.

There was, on the other hand, a whole lot of room for the AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi base station: Boxes of them were piled to eye level at several locations around the store. Asked how the AirPort Extreme was selling in Europe, an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

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