June 16, 2011
Le Bon Marche – Roboppy
I first discovered Le Bon Marché in 1999. Or perhaps I should say Le Bon Marché discovered me.
I had recently moved to Paris from San Francisco with my fiance. We were planning our wedding at a chateau in Burgundy and I quickly realized that I needed clothes – lots and lots of new clothes. With family and friends flying thousands of miles to join us, I was determined to show off the new Parisian me.
Le Bon Marché; Food at La Grande Epicerie (Melancholy Rose)
At Le Bon Marché, I discovered my inner Parisienne and began a love affair with brands like Vanessa Bruno and Paul and Joe. The shoe salon…the bags…the lingerie! It was a dream-come-true for a bride-to-be.
And ten years later, it still is. We left Paris after three life- and wardrobe-changing years. Now we’re back – hopefully for good – with two kids in tow and a Left Bank apartment to furnish. Paris life is certainly different now, but one thing hasn’t changed: there are still plenty of reasons to love Le Bon Marché. Here are my top 5:
Pastry from La Grande Epicerie (RC!)
1. La Grande Epicerie de Paris: Imagine 30,000 gourmet products from around the globe culled in one expansive, well-lit space: A patisserie case containing a rainbow of macarons, chocolate truffles and sugar dusted tartes aux fruits made on-site; Pique-nique perfect dishes waiting to be ferried to the banks of the Seine; That dream gift for a foodie back home, like foie gras or truffle salt from La Maison de la Truffe. Still have shopping or museum-hopping on the day’s agenda? They’ll even deliver to your flat (for a fee.)
Ceiling of le Bon Marché (Mother Nature Photos)
2. La Maison d’Edition: With a limited budget to furnish my apartment, LBM’s home design space provided ample inspiration. I fell hard for a David Weeks floor lamp (Didn’t I see something similar at Ikea?). A silky gray rug (perfect for our salon) would go on the wish list. Buying serious pieces here is a bit out of reach but with floor displays like art installations, you’ll leave ready to beautify your abode.
3. Le Theatre de la Beaute: The French are serious when it comes to scent. They even have a word for its lingering fragrance trail, le sillage. For most Parisiennes, a signature scent is de rigeur. I found mine, “Olene” by Diptyque, at the second floor boutique. Looking for yours? Hit Le Theatre de la Beaute on the rez-de-chaussee to see how Annick Goutal’s new “Le Mimosa” stacks up against cult-favorite “Geranium Bourbon” by London perfumer Miller Harris. The Culture of Color of Nail Bar offers a quick poses de vernis (polish change). At just 5 euro, it’s the chicest bargain in the store.
4. The history: Though its doors first opened in 1838 (the world’s first department store), the look of Le Bon Marché today bears the imprimatur of LVMH’s Bernard Arnault who bought it in 1984. Enter Andree Putman, France’s doyenne of design, to reconfigure its trademark escalators domed by Gustave Eiffel’s classic glass roof. The vast inner coeur (best viewed from the 2nd floor balcony) is itself worth the trip.
5. La mode: Le Bon Marché knows its client. She’s in her 30’s, visits the store about once a week and has plenty of euros tucked in her Vuitton Speedy. She’s the quintessential Parisienne who updates her wardrobe with key seasonal splurges rather than head-to-toe designer looks (sacrebleu!). She sports a mix from both sides of the store – Lanvin and Celine from the premiere etage and Isabel Marant, Maje and A.P.C. from across the covered passage, above La Grande Ep. She’s not me exactly, but hey, one can dream.
Despite it’s name (literally, “The Good Deal”) Le Bon Marché is anything but. Its air of pretension can be off-putting, but just remember: it’s all part of a carefully cultivated image. So mark your calendar for Wednesday, June 22: opening day of the summer sales. Prices across the store will be slashed up to 40 percent. Bargains at Le Bon Marché – what’s not to love?
- Find more info on Le Bon Marché here
- Love the area around le Bon Marché? Looking for a place to stay in Paris? Check out our nearby Saint Germain apartments
- Our Maggie stayed in Saint Germain last year – here are her top neighborhood spots
Written by Paige Bradley Frost
Paige Bradley Frost, a Los Angeles native, moved back to Paris with her young family in 2011 after first living and getting married there in 2000. A lover of French style and cuisine, she spends her days scouting and writing about the city's gems when not chasing after her two young children. Her articles about parenting, culture and lifestyle have appeared on NYTimes.com, the Huffington Post and various other publications. She blogs about her Paris experiences at http://parisdejavu.blogspot.com.
Website: Paris Deja Vu