Le Bon Marché

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This article is about the French Department store. For the former chain of American department stores, see The Bon Marché. For the British clothing retail chain owned by Sun European Partners, see Bonmarché.
Le Bon Marché
Aristide Boucicaut (1810-1877).
"Au Bon Marché"

Le Bon Marché ("the good market", or "the good deal" in French; French pronunciation: ​[lə bɔ̃ maʁʃe]) is the name of one of the best-known department stores in Paris, France. It is often incorrectly cited as the world's first department store; the distinction actually goes to Bainbridge's of Newcastle upon Tyne in England.[1] Although this can depend on the definition of "department store," it may have had the first specially designed building for a store in Paris. The founder was Aristide Boucicaut. Le Bon Marché, now the property of LVMH Luxury Group, sells a wide range of high-end goods, including food in an adjacent building at 38, rue de Sèvres, called La Grande Épicerie de Paris.


The store was founded as a small shop in Paris during 1838, and was a fixed-price department store from about 1850. It was a successful business, and a new building was constructed for the store first by Louis-Auguste Boileau in 1869 at 24, rue de Sèvres, where it remains today. Alexandre Laplanche ornamented Boileau's ironwork technology. Louis-Charles Boileau, his son, continued the store in the 1870s, consulting the firm of Gustave Eiffel for parts of its structure. Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, the grandson of Louis-Auguste Boileau, worked on an extension to the store in the 1920s. (See the entries of the Boileau architectural dynasty in fr.wikipedia.com.)


In 1922, when the decorative arts were at their highpoint in France, the Pomone design and decorating department was established, following the trend of other Parisian department stores. From 1923–1928, Paul Follot (1877–1941) was its director, followed by René-Lucien Prou (1889–1948) and Albert-Lucien Guénot 1894–1993) up to 1955. Today's home-furnishings inventory primarily consists of brand-names but not so-called white appliances.

Recommended reading[edit]

  • Miller, Michael B., Les Grands Magasins du Bon Marché, Paris, 1914
  • Zola, Émile, Au Bonheur des Dames, Paris: Charpentier, 1883. First serialized in the periodical Gil Blas and then published as the 11th novel in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series. Is one of Zola's more positive novels about changes in society during the Second Empire; documents the birth of modern retailing and changes in city planning and architecture; considers feminism; deconstructs desire in the marketplace; and tells in a Cinderella format the life of the Boucicauts who, in the novel, appear as Octave Mouret and Denise Baudu.
  • Marrey, Bernard, Les Grands Magasins des origines a 1939, Paris: Picard, 1979
  • The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store, 1869–1920, Princeton: Princeton University, 1981
  • Byars, Mel. "Follot, Paul" "Pomone," "Guénot, Albert-Lucien," and "Prou, René-Lucien," The Design Encyclopedia, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, pp. 234, 289, 585, 598–599
  • R. Stephen Sennott, ed., "Department Store," Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Architecture, New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, vol. 1, A–F, p. 356
  • Sally Aitken, "Seduction in the City: The Birth of Shopping" (Television Documentary) [1]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Yaffa Draznin (2001). Victorian London's Middle-Class Housewife: What She Did All Day. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-313-31399-8. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 

Coordinates: 48°51′3.67″N 2°19′27.73″E / 48.8510194°N 2.3243694°E / 48.8510194; 2.3243694

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