Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
The Bon Marché appears already in Zola’s novel Au Bonheur des dames. Pure coincidence? Not at all. Le Bon Marche is the oldest department store in Paris, opened in 1848.
1848? Exactly. This was the time when Baudelaire was strolling down the streets of Paris. Something ingenious had just been invented, les passages, the covered shopping malls where the rich finally could do their window-shopping without marching through the mud on the streets.
The owner of Bon Marché, Aristide Boucicaut, who had started with just a small boutique, quickly understood this phenomenon and opted for the construction of a huge building in 1870.
Back then it was all about laces and linen, but the pleasure today is still the same: a cool shopping experience with all the best labels gathered under one roof. It’s fun even if you don’t plan to buy anything. And there is really no easier way to get an idea of what is à la mode.
Bon Marché literally means “inexpensive”, but it is not, as its name might suggest, a cheap place. You’re in Paris, after all. And who would come to the Bon Marché if it weren’t posh and fancy? Not the ladies of 7th arrondissement.
On the ground floor you have the fancy shop-in-shops of Yves-Saint Laurent, Dior and Chanel. Upstairs it gets more eclectic with different designers and stylists: Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, Dries van Nooten, Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno, they are all here.
Visiting the Bon Marché is quite an aesthetic experience. The metallic structure is by Gustave Eiffel, the escalators are designed by Andrée Putman. The French are the kings of what they call la mise en scène. So don’t worry if you run into a stuffed lion: it’s just there to accentuate the yellowed beauty of a vintage Pucci gown.Le Bon Marché 24, rue de Sèvres 75007 Paris Métro: Sèvres-Babylone Open from 10-20 h Monday-Wednesday and Saturday, on Thursdays and Fridays from 10-21 h