This is the first part of a series, shopping in Paris, since almost everyone who visits wants to eat the famous French food and shop in the famous shops. Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville, or BHV as it is commonly known, is a part of the Galeries Lafayette Group and located in the heart of Paris. Right in front of the City Hall, from which it is named, it has very extensive homeware and hardware departments. BHV was built in 1856 by Xavier Ruel. The Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville is an iconic and historic representation of the industrial revolution during the Haussmann period, when most of the famous stores in Paris were established.
In 1855, a rather unusual event occurred which led to the establishment of the original store. While the Empress Eugénie passed his shop, the horses suddenly became frightened and the team reacted furiously. Xavier Ruel threw himself at their head and managed to bring them under control. He received a reward from Empress Eugenie for having performed this heroic act. With this money, in 1866, he was able to expand his business to three floors on the building now named BHV, originally named the “Bazaar Napoleon.” Over time he managed to expand to all six floors of the building. In 1893, he was appointed Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur and he died in 1900. Over the years to the present day, BHV has continued to occupy a prominent place among the Parisian department stores.
In October 2012 , the store management announced a renovation and rehabilitation of BHV, which notably implied a change of name, at this moment the new name has not been chosen. Economic imperatives are at the center of this transformation. Today the historic flagship store BHV at the heart of the city remains one of only four survivors, after a wave of closures. In eight years, fourteen stores of BHV have lowered the curtain in the Paris region and province. The goal is to change the image of the store to target customers more” bobo”, a contraction of bourgeois – bohème. Who knows exactly what that means but it seems that they want to move the store away from its current home and garden orientation toward the more lucrative fashion market (I think it is a mistake).
The basement of the BHV is renowned for its huge range of DIY, hardware and garden supplies. This kind of stuff is hard to find in Paris and this floor is the size of Home Depot in a basement. Even better, the entrance to this amazing collection of screws, light bulbs and tools is a direct connection to the metro, Hotel de Ville (line 1). If you find yourself in Paris looking for a screwdriver or duck tape you have to check this place out.
On the first and second floor you can find women’s perfumes, fashion and accessories. Keep in mind they are renovating with the store open, hence the funky ceiling.
On subsequent floors there are home goods, kitchen equipment, appliances, and books. Unlike the US, French booksellers continue to do a booming business. They have decided to get rid of the CD’s and DVD’s recently.
They have a television department but no cameras or computers. They have furniture and all the sorts of home goods that are hard to find elsewhere.
They have a very famous crafts department, including picture framing. They currently have classes on home repair and there are rumors that they will open a cooking school.
On the 6th floor they have a food court, they even have a sushi bar. On the top floor, they have beds. I loved this store, from the easy metro access to the very friendly staff and tons of useful stuff tucked away, this store is a gem. We ended up buying cologne, perfume, umbrellas, sheets, a crescent wrench, halogen light bulbs and a few other things. We are renting an apartment in Paris and while there are many stores to buy lingerie, women’s fashions and food, we had no idea where to buy stuff for the apartment. If you find yourself in the same situation, consider the historic Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville.
BHV Website: http://www.bhv.fr/