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.
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.