It has to be said that the Left Bank is a great shopping destination. We have all the best designer brands, but also the greatest quirky little shops too.
We’re also have no reason to be jealous of Galeries Lafayette or Le Printemps on the other side of the Seine – our favourite department store is without a doubt Le Bon Marché. Not only is it very close to our hotels, but it also offer a shopping experience unlike any other – a calm one!
Here’s our guided tour of this surprising department store…
The Bon Marché was built in 1869 (and La Grande Épicerie next door in 1924). Originally created by Aristide Boucicaut, son of a family of hat makers, the store became part of the LVMH family in 1984, which explains the decision to make it Paris’ most select grand magasin.
The main building has been reworked a few times over the years (including some work by a certain Monsieur Eiffel), and if you haven’t been inside for a while, you may well be surprised.
The first impression when you enter the ground floor is of a vast, elegant space with symmetrical escalators in the centre, surrounded by upmarket beauty and fashion brands…
Our first big surprise came on this floor. The smart (but hip) Sunlee Howard does excellent coffee, but also sells… vinyl records! Very à la mode.
Also, during your visit you’ll probably see a few modern art paintings hung on the walls. Le Bon Marché was the first department store (in 1875) to allow artists to expose their work there without asking for a commission on sales. Perhaps you find something ‘modern’ to your taste…
On the second floor you’ll find women’s fashion and clothing, and the bookshop. As it’s on the top of the building, this floor has a number of impressive glass ceilings that let in lots of natural light. Some of the spaces are quite spectacular.
And on the (small) top floor, there are kids’ toys. The size of this area suggests that the store is more of an adult affair perhaps?
From here, you can cross over to La Grande Épicerie, the nearst thing Paris has to the Harrods Food Court. However, there’s a lot more to it than that.
The building was completely transformed in 2013. The interior courtyard was covered over, natural light was allowed in, and the top two floors are now an extension of Le Bon Marché, with designer furniture, lighting, interior design objects, a vast kitchen section…
As well as the smartest products from aroudn the world, all impeccably arranged and presented, there are also fruit and vegetables, a fish stand, a butcher’s, a rotisserie, a cheese shop, a bread shop and cake shop, takeaway meals, wine…
It’s huge, immaculate and impressive…
…and if you spend at least 75€, delivery is free! You can have everything delivered directly to your hotel!
The store also has an interesting way of helping you to avoid waiting to pay at the checkout. With the free app Neos available for Android and iOS you just scan your items (up to ten) with your smartphone and pay directly in the app! Just make sure you show your receipt to security on the way out.
And what we appreciated the most was the air of serenity about the place. A much more dignified and less stressful experience, to be sure.
We had a great time taking all our photos (despite forgetting to swing by the basement levels), and the fact that the stores are so close to our hotels make a visit essential!
Le Bon Marché (here) is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-8pm (8.45pm Thursdays) and Sundays from 11am-7.45pm
La Grande Épicerie (here) is open Monday-Saturday, 8.30am-9pm, and Sundays from 10am-8pm
Special December opening hours: Sunday 23rd & 20th December, open 8.30am-8pm. Monday 24th & 31st December, closes at 7pm
To check out all our photos of the Bon Marché and Grande Épicerie, click here.
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