Le Bon Marché

In the 7th arrondissement there is a small garden park called Square Boucicaut with some interesting buildings around.

The square is named after Aristide and Marguerite Boucicaut who in 1852 launched what may obviously be considered as the first real department store in the world. It kept the name “Le Bon Marché” - which could mean “cheapness”, or maybe rather should be interpreted as the “good bargain”? - from a previous shop founded in 1838 in which they had been associated for a few years. It was a great success and in 1869 the present large main building was launched, opening in the early 1870’s. The architect (Louis-Charles Boileau) asked for help by Gustave Eiffel for the structure of the building. (The escalators have of course been added later, designed by Andrée Putman.)

The success story continued. The employees were obviously well treated with a lot of social advantages, not so common those days. Other adjacent buildings were added. Today, this is probably the most luxury oriented department store in Paris. This is the place you rather would go if you want something of a certain standard. You find also a very nice bookshop and what I believe must be the food store with the largest assortment in Paris. I checked the olive oils; there were some 50 brands to choose from.

Since 1984, Le Bon Marché belongs to the LMVH group (Bernard Arnault) and is definitely now a luxury department store, where you of course can buy what you “need” of the other brands of the group (Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Kenzo, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Dior Perfumes, Guerlain, Chaumet, TAG Heuer...). The show window decoration is also quite special.

One of the adjacent buildings, originally used as warehouse by “Le Bon Marché” and obviously also with Eiffel involved in the design, is today partly occupied by The Conran Shop, specialising in exclusive modern furniture and household goods.

In 1910, Mrs. Boucicaut (the husband died in 1877) had a big hotel, Lutetia, built on the other side of the square to accommodate travelling clients. This is still the only “palace” on the left bank. Considering the standard of the hotel, the customers did already then not all go to “Le Bon Marché” to buy cheap stuff.

In the immediate neighbourhood, there are some other interesting buildings including the “Missions Etrangères” (Foreign Missions) and the last home of Chateaubriand.


Claudia said...

One of my favourite places to spend money in Paris... and La Grande Epicerie de Paris.

Parisbreakfasts said...

For ages I never went to Bon Marche because of the name...quelle idiot.
Now I am addicted.
Wonderful shots of those escalators.
Adree Putman was in a hair salon where I was getting my hair cut. Both the hair cutter and I were ga-ga watching her dig for exact change.
My hair turned was a complete disaster!

Cezar and Léia said...

L`Epicerie! I would like to check about the wines there! hummmmmm I bet it looks like "wonderland"!:-)

krystyna said...

Hi Peter!
Each your post is Special,
with amazing pics
(btw. I miss pics with big size)
and I like to read the story about magical places in Paris.

Have a wonderful week ahead!

Michelle said...

I guess I need to come to Paris to shop.
Great pictures.

Anonymous said...

Once again a very informative post. I liked the pictures too. Have not been there but when I go there next time, it's a must visit now.

SusuPetal said...

Oh, that place looks golden and I bet you'd have to have some gold to shop in there!

Have a golden week, Peter, the spring is at the door (not here, though, it's snowing...)

Karen said...

Wonderful post, Peter, as usual.. and now another place for me to put on my "must see" list.

Olivier said...

la premiere photo grandiose, nous voila dans une grotte secrete toute en or.

Jill said...

Thanks for taking us shopping Peter. At least from 'here' I won't spend much money!

alice said...

Ahhh, I love this place! And your shots show it under a very special and beautiful angle.
The area is quite pleasant too, isn't it ;-)) (rue de Sèvres, rue du Cherche-Midi, etc)
Have you read the novel "Au bonheur des dames" by Zola about this store and its history, under another name?

Cergie said...

Et le métro Boucicaut est dans le 15ème. C'était celui de Pierre lorsqu'il avait une chambre de bonne rue Bocquillon.
[On ne peut pas louper les circulations verticales pour une fois, elles se voient comme le nez au milieu de la figure...]

Bettina said...

Great photos. I love the one where you can see the ceiling and the escalators in perfect harmony.
Thank you for telling so enthusiastic about your subjects, it's really catching ;-)

lyliane six said...

Il y a 15 jours j'y suis allée m'y promener avec Grazi, elle tenait un petit magasin dans une rue voisine,il y a vraiment beaucoup de bonnes choses, nous avons attendu le bus 27 devant l'hôtel Lutecia qui était tout illuminé, c'est magnifique, Grazi m'a pafrlé d'une vierge au miracles dans une église, mais nouis n'avons pas eu le temps d'y aller, mais nous y retournerons, ses anciens collègues commerçants sont charmants.

test said...

Hi Peter,

Hope you're doing fine.
I will surely like to visit this place on my next trip to Paris.

Take care and good luck.


Adam said...

Great photos Peter - I hope nobody tells you to take them offline! :-)

The food hall is impressive, but strangely it's not a patch on those at Harrods or Selfridges in London. Perhaps such displays would have seemed indecent in a country where the small producer and trader is king.

hpy said...

A mon époque (il y a donc très longtemps) le Bon Marché n'avait pas encore été modernisé, et les planchers grinçaient sous mes pieds quand j'y allais. (Ce n'était pas très loin, assez pratique, et on y trouvait malgré tout plein de choses inutiles.) J'aimais bien le quartier. Tu as l'hopital Laënnec aussi, pas très loin, il me semble.

Jessica said...

The history of this place is interesting. I wonder if the store improved the quality of the goods it sold and the service, or if it stayed the same while everything else cheapened around it.

It looks like a beautiful place, anyway.

Thérèse said...

Des beaux quartiers, des belles couleurs et des belles lignes tout partout tes photos. Un plaisir à lire les explications.

Marie-Noyale said...

J'ai eu l'occasion de visiter l'immeuble des"Missions Etrangeres" pendant les journées du Patrimoine.. Worth the visit!!
Les photos d'interieur du Bon Marché avec ces superbes escaliers roulants donnent envie d'y faire une petite visite rapidement!!

Rob said...

This appears to be a shopper's paradise. Wow, the golden escalators are amazing!

Tanya Breese said...

Ironic that La Bon Marche could translate to "cheapness"...nothing looks cheap about this place and I could really learn to LOVE shopping if I had a place like this to do it in!

Cutie said...

Oh, I didn't manage to visit this mall. It's really gorgeous.

Virginia said...

Well you can bet I will be spending some time here this summer. I've never been before. My daughter will be interested in the home furnishings store as well since she does design work. Your top photo is spectacular. Love the lines and the color. Great job on this one Peter. Trés belle!

PeterParis said...

Yes, La Grande Epicerie is part of it! Maybe the most attractive - and most affordable?
(To everybody: Whoever hasn't seen Claudia's blog should have a look!)

So happy you found me and that I found you! I really like your blog! You are immediately joining the list of Paris blogs that I recommend!
So, you would not really recommend this salon? :-)

Cezar é Léia:
It does look nice! The problem is that when the choice is so great, it's difficult to choose! (Hope soon te be able to "see" you! Already nice to have your comments!)

PeterParis said...

I will try to make the "big" ones now and then, but it takes too much time for me every time! :-)

The shop is open six days a week! Welcome!

I'm happy to be able to indicate some "must" addresses! (Tell me when you come, please!)

PeterParis said...

A gold card helps a lot! (The problem is next month when your account is charged!)
... and don't worry about the spring. You will get it also in a couple of weeks (months?) :-)

I hope I'm not making the "must" list too long! You have to rent a flat for weeks! :-)

Tu n'as pas ça à Evry! :-)

PeterParis said...

I think you can order via the net! Do you want the address! :-)

I thought I should have said something also about Zola, but then again I always have a tendency to make too long posts! :-)

Oui, les escalators sont plus faciles à trouver qu'ay Printemps et à La Fayette!

PeterParis said...

Thanks... and I'm not getting any commission! :-)

Le quartier a beacoup d'atouts!

So happy to see you around again! Soon back to blogging? Soon back in Paris?

PeterParis said...

I hope soo too! :-)

Pour Laënnec, tu as bien raison, mais je n'ai aps encore commencé de faire des posts sur les hopitaux. Peut-être à venir?

I think they rather soon went to the higher qualities - and prices!

Maxime said...

Si je comprends bien, tu as attendu la fin des soldes pour "faire" les grands magasins ?
C'est plus prudent, en effet. Tu es un homme avisé !

PeterParis said...

Merci! Tu connais bien, je suppose?

Ca doit être intéressant de visiter! Derrière, il y a le plus grand jardin privz de Paris!

Dusty Lens:
A real paradise with a well furnished credit card!

PeterParis said...

So you still have to LEARN to love shopping! Bravo!!

Not too late, it's still there! Honeymoon trip perhaps?

How long were you going to stay did you say? With everything you add to your list, you must stay for "ever", or start making choices! :-)

PeterParis said...

Pour prendre des photos, on est moins bousculé! :-)

Catherine said...

Un bien bel écrin nacré pour les produits qui y sont vendus. La lumière des photos prises à l'intérieur est superbe.
Andrée Putman mérite sa renommée rien que pour le design et la disposition de ces escaliers roulants.
J'aurai un regard différent la prochaine fois que j'y irai flâner.
C'est aussi l'endroit où j'ai croisé le plus de célébrités, sans doute le quartier qui veut cela.

Anonymous said...

I stopped and read your blog and looked at the photographs. I just wanted you to know that I was impressed again.

Shammickite said...

Great photographs, as usual Peter.
I'd love to spend lots of money at Bon Marche... maybe on my next trip to Paris!!

PeterParis said...

C'est déjà un bel endroit pour flaner. On n'est pas obligé de faire des achats - chaque fois! !-)

Nice to hear! I appreciate!

Which will be when? Don't forget me when you come!

Kate said...

Dear Peter, I hope that the visit to your mother finds her well and happy. Happy, I'm sure, because of your visit.

The escalator design is very arresting...the top photo is exceptional. Yes, I shopped there several times in the past. Lots of fun.

Anonymous said...

Oh, another place in Paris, I've never heard of. Le Bon Marché looks great inside with very nice details. So it was obviously allowed to take photos there. I once tried in a Parisian department store and a well-dressed man appeared immediately and told us very politely that it was forbidden.

Maria O. Russell said...

Everything they have at this store is exquisite!

Nobody mentions their customer service though.

One could patiently (or not) wait while some of the sales ladies finished discussing their favorite ways for making Blanquette de Veau and Pot-au-Feu!

Luckily, I love to cook, so, the wait for me was highly isntructive!

Where else would I get such insights on this classics?