Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville

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Coordinates: 48°51′27″N 2°21′12″E / 48.85745°N 2.353344444°E / 48.85745; 2.353344444

The BHV seen from the Hôtel de Ville

The Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville or Le BHV Marais is a department store on rue de Rivoli in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, facing the Hôtel de Ville. It is part of the Groupe Galeries Lafayette and served by the Metro station Hôtel de Ville. It occupies four other smaller specialized stores, in the neighborhood, and has also opened several other shops in France and in Beirut, Lebanon. BHV currently operates several stores in the Paris metropolitan area and two in the Lyon metropolitan area.

The store slogan is "Style as lifestyle" ("Style comme style de vie").

It has been a member of the International Association of Department Stores from 1963 to 1993.

History and evolution[edit]

Xavier Ruel, an engineer, and his wife moved to Paris in 1852.[1] Ruel was selling small items through street vendors and realized that the most effective neighborhood was the one around the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall). Therefore, he rented the ground floor of a building to open a boutique, in this neighborhood, which he called, the “Bazar Parisien”.[2]

According to the legend, in 1855, Ruel saved Napoleon III's wife, Empress Eugénie, whose horses became frightened while passing in front of his store.[3] To reward him, she gave him a sum of money which, enabled him to expand his store, in 1856, which he renamed “Bazar Napoléon” to show his gratitude to the Emperor and his wife.[2] In 1866, thanks to his successful business, he was able to rent three floors of this same building, on 54 rue de Rivoli.[4] In 1870, his store occupied the whole building. In 1871, due to the fall of the Empire, Ruel changed the name of the store by “Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville” which refers to the Hôtel de Ville, located across the street.[2]

Xavier Ruel was also involved in the political and social life of Paris. He was elected city councillor several times and in 1893, was made Knight of the Legion of Honour. He was 78 years old when he died in 1900. He left behind a business who employed 800 people. His company, then named “Société Veuve Ruel et Compagnie” recorded a capital of twelve millions francs.[3]

The BHV, like other department stores born in this time, were innovative since they offered fixed price and sometimes, promotions to attract the customers. They also invested in advertisement which was a new aspect of trade.

Advertisement for the Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville published in the magazine L'Œuvre d'art in Paris, in 1895

The store underwent several some renovations in 1903-04 and in 1913, a new building was built with its famous rotunda, by the architect Auguste Roy.[2]

After the World War I, consumption exploded among all social classes and the BHV, like other department stores benefited from this phenomenon and targeted new customers, the middle class. With the development of domestic appliances, in the 1920s, the BHV opened a new department which attracted numerous housewives. This department has kept growing since then. During the World War II, the BHV faced difficulties in its resupplying. In August 1944, the BHV, due to its location, was able to witness the liberation of Paris and the end of the war.

In 1963, the company opens its first branch store. Over time, several other BHV department stores are opened in Paris region but most of them are closed nowadays. In 1991, the BHV is bought by the Galeries Lafayette group.

On 2 December 1978, a bombing at the place killed one person and injured 25 others.[5]

In 2007-2008, the BHV expands its store with new specialized stores, in the same neighborhood.

In 2012, the store management announced further modifications to its structure, with renovation on each floor, to give a renewal aspect to the store. Paul Delaoutre, CEO of the branch department stores of the Galeries Lafayette group explained that they “aimed at targeting creative urban inhabitants looking for originality”. This is the reason why they decided to “reinvent” the BHV. This also implied a new name which is no longer the BHV but the BHV Marais and a new logo.[6][7]

Practical information[edit]

The BHV seen from the place Harvey Milk
  • Current organization of the store [8]

The BHV Marais offers various departments across its eight floors and in its smaller specialized shops nearby. It also has three other department stores, each of which, like the main store, comprises several departments.

Floors organization[edit]

  • Basement: DIY, hardware and garden supplies
  • Ground and first floor: women's fashion, accessories and perfumes
  • Second floor: arts and crafts, book store
  • Third floor: culinary arts
  • Fourth floor: home decoration, furniture
  • Fifth floor: toys
  • Sixth floor and last floor: food court (sixth floor), bath accessories and hardware, bedding and household textiles, kitchen equipment


  1. ^ "Galeries Lafayette". Groupe Galeries Lafayette. Archived from the original on 2014-09-09.
  2. ^ a b c d "Parisian fields". 10 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b "BHV Historique" (in French). B.H.V.
  4. ^ "History of the grands magasins". 20 November 2012.
  5. ^ Miller, Judith (8 December 1985). "25 Wounded by Bombs at 2 Paris Department Stores". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Nous réinventons le BHV" (in French). 23 October 2012.
  7. ^ "New name, logo and identity for Le BHV".
  8. ^ "Shopping in Paris".