Grands Magasins du Louvre

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Coordinates: 48°51′43″N 2°20′17″E / 48.862072°N 2.338159°E / 48.862072; 2.338159

Photograph of the Grands Magasins du Louvre
An advertisement for a corset from a 1908 catalog of ladies' summer fashions.

Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, initially Les Galeries du Louvre, a department store in Paris, France, was founded in 1855, three years after its competitor, Le Bon Marché. Under new management as the Société du Louvre, it closed definitively in 1974. At present, the building houses the Louvre des Antiquaires, a conglomeration of antiques shops, as well as offices. Les Grands Magasins du Louvre had inspired Émile Zola in his novel Au Bonheur des Dames (1883).


In 1855, Alfred Chauchard, who had been a clerk of the Au Pauvre Diable store with a salary of 25 Francs per month, joined Auguste Hériot and Léonce Faré to rent the ground floor of the Grand Hôtel du Louvre, which had just opened its doors in Paris on the rue de Rivoli in a building constructed in 1852 by the Péreire brothers at the request of the Baron Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine.

On the ground floor of the building, Faré's company, Chauchard, Hériot et Compagnie, established a store for fashion called Les Galeries du Louvre. The building was rented by La Compagnie Immobilière de Paris. The Péreire brothers financed the launching of the business and, in 1860, took shares in the company.

In 1857, Faré withdrew, mistakenly, because commerce did not cease thriving. In 1865, the enterprise realised 15 million in sales and 41 million ten years later. At that time, it employed about 2,400 people, and Chauchard and Hériot became extremely rich.

In 1875, the two associates were able to repurchase the entire building. They transferred the Hôtel du Louvre to other side of the Place du Palais-Royal, where it is still today and, after two years of work, opened Les Grands Magasins du Louvre. The store offered much of what the customers of the day desired; 52 departments and counters offered silks in a wide range of colors, shawls from the Indies, tartans, article de Paris, hosiery, toys, watercolors, and more.

1877 engraving from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Auguste Hériot died in 1879, and his brother, Olympe, inherited his shares of the company. Chauchard sold his shares, for some unknown reason, in 1885. Then Olympe directed the company alone until 1888, the year when the first signs of his mental illness forced his resignatopm. He was succeeded by the son of Émile Pereire.

In 1889, the company was renamed Société du Louvre and opened a second hotel, the Hôtel Concorde Saint-Lazare, whose hall was designed by Gustave Eiffel. In 1909, the company opened the Hôtel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde, after its renovation. In 1930, the shares were registered in the official list of the Paris Bourse, the stock exchange.

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