It’s a simple misunderstanding that anyone could make – but it has cost me years of retail pleasure. Who knew that Paris’ Le Bon Marché couldn’t be more different to the similarly named British store, Bonmarché?
Not me, that’s for sure.
I stumbled across the French department store on my recent trip to Paris. My first clue that it might not be part of the same chain as the downmarket British clothing emporium was the sheer beauty of the store, on Rue de Sèvres in Paris’ seventh arrondissement.
My second clue came when a doorman – rather than a security guard – held open the door for me, revealing a world of beauty and style within.
The store opened in 1838, I have since learnt, while the British chain opened 144 year later.
I didn’t linger in the perfume hall on the ground floor but made my way down to the basement menswear department.
I was looking for a new briefcase for work. I found dozens of beautiful ones that had the softness of leather I was after, coupled with the beauty of form that would set them apart from the office average. Sadly, however, they were priced at over €500 more than my budget.
I could have left there and then, of course. Instead, I chose to indulge myself for a few minutes longer and headed for the top-floor bookshop and furniture department.
What I saw has convinced me once and for all that there is no connection whatsoever with the British fashion chain.