Department stores gone...

During the warmer part of the year, there is a possibility to visit a bar on the roof of the Gare de l’Est. From there you have a nice view of the southern part of Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin … a long street with a number of things to see, doors to push… The street  follows the trace from Roman times, leading to the north.

You will learn that one of the world’s first department stores was situated here, on this street. It was there already before the Revolution, as from 1784 (!!), well before the later famous “Bon Marché” (see previous post), Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, BHV… This one was called “Tapis Rouge” (Red Carpet). Seen from outside, there are hardly any traces left. It occupied an enormous space during its glorious days, especially during the latter part of the 19th century and until 1910, when it closed. The buildings were later occupied by furniture shops, some hotel activities and more … until around 1990, when part of the space was again opened under the original name “Tapis Rouge”, and where you can now rent space for special events. I didn’t manage to get in to see some of the remaining stairs (just a view through the front door), but one of my friends, with the blog “Paris-Bise-Art”, obviously managed (see here).  

There is another trace of a department store on the street. What we can see is actually what once was the back entrance to “Aux Classes Laborieuses”, a shop which sold at low prices to “working classes”. You can still read the original name on top of the facade. (The architect of this 1900 building, Jacques Hermant (1855-1930) has left a number of other remarkable buildings, including the “Salle Gaveau”, see previous post.) After WWI, the place was taken over by “Lévitan”, some kind of those days' “Ikea” but, the owners being Jewish, during the WWII years the place was occupied by the Nazis. It was made into a place where all kinds of things, confiscated from the Jews, were sorted, shipped… and the job was done by Jewish prisoners – before most of them were sent to other even worse destinations. "Lévitan" could open again in 1946, but the furniture market changed.... After having been empty for a few years, the building is today occupied by a publicity agency.  


claude said...

J'aime bien le côté exotique de la terrasse de ce bar.
J'apprécie tes cours d'histoire sur Paris.

Jeanie said...

Sad to see those beautiful stores no longer exist and the story of Levitan is especially sad. I remember seeing one called something like Samarataine that was no longer a department store, too but the exterior of the building looked wonderful!