Le Bon Marche department store is the first and oldest of the famed Parisian department stores, and the only one on Rive Gauche (the Left Bank, once the artsy stomping ground, today bourgeois leaning turf).
Le Bon Marché has gone from a long tradition of offering utilitarian-type everyday use products to revamping its image into a chic and glamorous, designer-friendly space, with luxury goods of every kind.
A grand renovation started in the 1980's made way for a surprisingly successfull financial turnaround and repositioned the store in the eyes of its mostly well-to-do clientele from the surrounding affluent neighborhood.
It was a bold new vision marked by a more sophisticated touch and the creation of a landscape with accents such as a rotating cultural exhibitions floor in exotic art, cinema, and of course designer fashion lines. The men's and women's fashion departments attract shoppers from all over the place.
Not to be outdone is the other big hit, the gourmet supermarket La Grande Epicerie where, in addition to culinary treats, a staggering collection of fine Champagne, wine and liqueur brand names in the thousands await you. And then, there is the notorious wedding boutique, a destination in its own right.
As part of the powerful luxury shopping group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), Le Bon Marche has been able to ride an unprecedented wave of commercial success, while delighting its loyal customer base with a modern posh outlook.
The Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tour fame)-designed building may be the smallest of the giant Paris department stores, but it offers arguably the least hectic shopping experience. From comfortable lounging areas to home delivery, and from personal shopping to valet parking, it is easy to see why Le Bon Marche remains a favorite among the local gentry.
24 rue de Sèvres, (7ème arrondissement)
Hours: 9:30 am - 7:00 pm Monday to Friday; 9:30 am to 10:00 pm Saturday; Closed Sundays.
If you are accustomed to US shopping hours, remember that Sunday is not a shopping day in France. Although there is a cultural shift that is starting to question why put restrictions on store schedules, critical mass has not been reached.
Le Bon Marche Department Store, as all shopping in Paris, closes relatively early on weekdays, and just slightly later on Saturdays. Sorry, but you have to do as the locals do and schedule your shopping accordingly. Hey, don't shoot the messenger! :-)