At a time when department stores everywhere are reeling from the challenge of online shopping, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche (24 Rue de Sèvres, 7th arrondissement), owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH, is thriving. This can be explained by a number of factors, but it is chiefly because shopping here is such an enjoyable and profoundly Parisian experience.
A visit to Le Bon Marché immerses shoppers in the sophistication of its famous Left Bank neighborhood. The store occupies a handsome 19th-century building that fills a whole block between Rue de Sèvres and Rue de Babylone, at the head of a small, pretty triangular park known as the Square Boucicaut. This space is named for Aristide Boucicaut, who created the department store in 1852 with his wife, Marguerite. Originally, it was conceived as an amenity for shoppers who wanted a breath of fresh air before or after their visits.
A visit to Le Bon Marché immerses shoppers in the sophistication of its famous Left Bank neighborhood.
Le Bon Marché was designed by the architect Louis-Charles Boileau and the engineer Gustave Eiffel, who intended to dazzle visitors with its vast atrium, cascading staircases and huge open spaces. Mosaics around the doorways on Rue de Babylone indicate what the store originally sold — goods that included sewing products, fabrics and furnishings — but the store was substantially reorganized after being acquired by LVMH.
The old hardware department in the basement was retired, and the store positioned itself as a curated showcase for cutting-edge design from France and all over the world in clothing, shoes, bags and accessories. The store also has one of the largest selections of luxury watches in Paris, plus books and stationery and an impressive homeware department selling linens, lighting, cooking implements, tableware and furniture.
Le Bon Marché also offers eight restaurants between the main establishment and its adjacent twin, La Grande Épicerie, one of the greatest food stores in Europe. These include the excellent Primo Piano, which serves a Tuscan menu, and the charming Rose Bakery Tea Room.
Famous for its imaginative window displays and special promotions — Brooklyn was a recent theme — Le Bon Marché is today the most elegant and interesting department store in Paris. A personalized shopping service with a bilingual guide is available.