Bon Marché, Paris
“For my part I believe that the Tower will possess its own beauty.”
— Gustave Eiffel, his response to critics of his Tower in a February 1887 interview with the newspaper Le Temps
Although Le Bon Marché is renowned for La Boutique Mariage, Wedding Boutique, and has a large and prestigious Beauty and Cosmetics Department, I am here to praise its ground-floor gourmet food market, La Grande Epicerie.
Stocked with thousands of products from around the world, such as mineral water from Wales, French artisan jams, and exquisite tomato sauce from Naples, La Grande Epicerie is a food lover’s delight. The quality of the fresh, prepackaged and prepared foods is top of the line. This department store is known for its quality; it has a reputation to consider. True, you will may a bit more than those small stands on the sidewalk, but the quality is worth it.
Founded in 1852, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche was the first department store ever in Paris. Its present ornate Art Nouveau building was designed by Gustav Eiffel, yes that Eiffel! Because this is Paris, the store has a culture department that stages art exhibits and maintains a contemporary art collection. The store even sells real estate! And it was the founder of Hotel Lutetia, only a few blocks distant from the store (see von.otter’s Paris accommodation tip: “Hotel Lutetia: A Grand Hotel” for more about this wonderful place to stop while visiting the City of Light).
La Grande Epicerie came to our rescue the afternoon of my birthday 2003 when we were too late to be served lunch and too early to be served dinner in any restaurant. We bought olives, bread, cheese, salad, etc.; took it all back to our room at the near-by Hotel Lutetia; called room service for plates, utensils and napkins; and enjoyed an indoor picnic, with a view of %la tour Eiffel from our balcony!
What to buy: Le Bon Marché is reputed to have the best Spanish ham in Paris.
This is where I usually go to kill time while the wife is shopping for clothes, lots of things to see here and great ready to eat food like a deli but better. I usually buy lots of sauces (canned) and other things from here to bring home. This place is not cheap but a great place to shop.
What to buy: We bought more wine and champagne along with lots of small items to bring home for cooking and gifts. We also bought a suitcase upstairs to pack all our stuff into and got a discount by showing our Passport (4th of July Special). I would say the suitcase was no deal at $170, you could get the same thing at home for $50.
On the Right Bank you have Fauchon and on the left La Grande Epicerie de Paris. Personally, I prefer this supermarket to Fauchon.
It is part of the Bon Marche Department store and is a great place to visit even if you don't intedn to buy anything. Just walk around in wonder of all the amazing goods and tasty treats they have to sell. They all so have great prepared food and salads should you feel like self-catering a little, but have no kitchen etc.
There is food from every corner of the globe available and food of the highest quality as well. This is heaven for anyone keen to put together a picnic to eat by the Seine or Eiffel Tower.
What to buy: Anything and everything is available, so shop till your heart's content.
Those who traveled to Paris after college in the 60s or 70s might remember that Bon Marche was a department store with affordable prices, hence the name Bon Marche. Today it is right up there with Gallerie Lafayette and is tres chic.
I love the shoe and hat deparments.
There is also a gourmet food store, l'Epicerie, which is similar to Whole Foods in Manhattan. Wonderful selections of all kinds of foods from everywhere.
There is a very interesting article on the architecture of this department store.
What to buy: There is a very good selection of great hats, especially in the winter. The shoe department is excellent, too, somewhat like Barneys in NY. The prices are just too much though.
In the Epicerie across from the main building you can buy food products from all over the world.
What to pay: Beacoup
My friend, Sandye, had given me a shopping list and had requested some Hediard confiture so I popped into Bon Marche’s Le Grand Epicerie to see if I could locate it. They didn’t have the specific kind she’d requested (Hediard Passionfruit Peche) but I did get a lovely shot of the Gateau Rose that she likes so well. They do sell Hédiard products here but not that specific flavor.
I call this trip the Interdit Tour since so many places/people wouldn’t allow photos. Apparently, Le Grand Epicerie doesn’t allow photos of its displays so I was lucky to get 2 shots before they started yelling at me.
Au Bon Marche photo - through that door you'll find le Grande Epicerie! Don't you love the Pop Foods sign?
And in contrast to Au Bon Marché is LE Bon Marché! As you can see in the photo the 2 are connected by an elevated walkway.
The shop is conveniently open Monday - Saturday from 8:30am - 9pm.
Photos: February 2006
What to buy: Mustards, olive oil, macaron, confiture, honey, patisseries. Le Grand Epicerie has food stuff from many different places including Hediard & Fauchon so this is a great one-stop shop to pick up these specialty food items in Paris.
What to pay: Just a bit more than what you'd pay at the regular food shops such as Hediard or Fauchon but not much more.
This is THE upscale department store in Paris -- besides the usual clothes and accessories "pour la femme et l'homme" there is an enormous food hall with many delicacies.
The name is ironic as "bon marché" means a bargain.
What to buy: I found some on the lower-priced designer jewelry -- very original and not too dear. Of course perfume is another center of attention for chic shoppers:) I also buy socks and knee highs here -- they have the basic brands such as DIM, as well as some more frisky ones ;)
There are number of nice small cafés around for that needed break from shopping!
What to pay: How much do you have?
Can't say that I'm much of a department store shopping hound but this place stands above the rest. For Paris natives (you know who your are:) I'm sure to be biatch slapped for that remark but I'm risking my fashion i.q. here.
The architecture and occasional photographic art displays add to this experience.
Upside is you can shop for your girlfriend, mistress and wife here and never be found out. It's the Parisian way.