BHV/ Marais is located on Paris’ Rue de Rivoli just across from the Hotel de Ville, and has a very different feel from many upscale, large-city department stores. BHV (originally, “Bazar de L’Hotel de Ville”) may feel like a step back in time for U.S. visitors. Generally, BHV is set up to appeal to the middle-class shopper (a bit more like Macy’s/Dillards, and less Saks Fifth Avenue). That statement isn’t quite accurate, like many French things there is something lost in translation. Still, the BHV retains departments including stationary, notebooks, pencils and school supplies, pet goods, and notions (notions?? yes, notions). These have long vanished from U.S. department stores. I think you can actually buy hardware and knitting supplies there (I’ve seen them in the past). BHV is the store memorialized by The New York Times fashion photographer and genius Bill Cunningham, when he mentioned in his biopic that this very store is the source of his blue work jackets.
The Marais is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It has an eclectic mix of art museums, falafel street food, shops and cafes that seem very down-to-earth, at least as that term can be applied to anywhere in Paris. Occupying several buildings (one is dedicated just to menswear), BHV/Marais is located just south of the Pompidou Center, north of Seine.
The BHV building that borders the Rue de Rivoli houses a nice makeup section. It’s as eclectic as the Marais itself, covering many of the major department store lines that include Clinique, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancome, Guerlain, and others that many U.S. readers will recognize. As you can see, this photo was taken in late July and none of the Fall releases are available here yet. Many French consider August summer vacation time, so Fall can wait for them.
I’m not aware of a full Sisley counter in the U.S. (is there one?). They are plentiful in Paris including at the BHV.
As with many Parisian stores, there is a large perfume area for gifting or enjoying for yourself.There is also a premium perfume area that includes by Terry, Hermes, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Serge Lutens fragrance (not the exclusives, however), and other luxury lines.
I believe it is sold with little stick-on silver letters, so that you can put whatever name you like on the bottle. The scent was lovely but it did not grab me emotionally like some Guerlain scents do. The BHV has a nail bar, featuring Kure Bazaar nail polish (available here in the U.S.). According to Kure, “Kure Bazaar nail polishes are made of 85% natural ingredients, including wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn.” I’m going to check out more from this line, it’s everywhere in Paris right now.
BHV carries many parapharmacie brands, that are either premium or with an emphasis on all-natural (including some items made in the U.S.). These lines include L’Occitane, Leonor Greyel (for hair), Nuxe, Biotherm and the like.
There is a small section of the Korean Erborian line here (some of their items are sold here at Sephora in the U.S.). Because I paid a visit to the Paris Erborian boutique, I’ll be doing more coverage of their products in a bit.
There is also a huge section that includes drugstore lines, including the much-missed Bourjois line.
There are some lovely nail colors sold under the Galleries Lafayette label sold here as well of all textures–metallics, glitters, creams, sheers at 3.90 euros each.
Here are a few pictures from the standard drugstore lines. There isn’t a huge difference between what you will see in the U.S., although I rarely see the discounts that American drugstores allow. So although these are nice to have available, I don’t see American shoppers filling their suitcases with them.
The BHV offers an eclectic mix of everything, including makeup and beauty. So if you are ever in the mood for great roast chicken, falafel, crepes, hot chocolate, modern art, a major dose of history, and a little mix of high end and drugstore beauty, stop by the Marais (including the BHV) next time you are in Paris.