La Grande Épicerie au Bon Marché
Rue de Sèvres at rue du Bac, 7th arr.
Monday-Saturday 8:30 am to 9 pm
(see pp. 88-91 in Markets of Paris, 2nd ed.)
Calling all foodies! Two gourmet food halls in Paris cater to well-heeled residents and tourists. Both are associated with department stores. La Grande Épicerie, which is part of the Bon Marché department store, stands proudly on the Left Bank in the 7th arrondissement. Across the Seine on the Right Bank, the gourmet hall at Galeries Lafayette department store (9th arrondissement) offers a similar feast of options. Prices are steep, but the selections are vast, quality high, and temptations dizzying.
La Grande Épicerie was recently fully renovated, which was unveiled in December 2013. Click here to read my description of its new look.
When I first went to La Grande Épicerie, I entered near the jam aisles (yes, that’s plural, not a typo) and I was literally stopped in my tracks.
It wasn’t that anyone had dropped a jar and my shoes were stuck in a gooey mess, but the effect was the same. I was mesmerized by all those pretty jars lined up, shoulder to glassy shoulder. Cursive lettering on the labels announced fruits that went beyond my French vocabulary. But I didn’t need to identify each by name to understand that every single one was packed with heavenly sweetness.
About 20 minutes later, my husband yanked me away so I could take in La Grande Épicerie’s other delights. Everywhere I turned, colorful presentations vied for my attention. These department stores excel at merchandising. Imagine all that creative talent lavished on making foods look their best. Bright lighting and broad aisles give the feel of a high-end supermarket. Mists from a sprinkler system keep produce looking fresh-picked. La Grande Épicerie also plays up the nostalgia factor. Popular foods from all over the world that might be near impossible to locate elsewhere in Paris can find a warm welcome here. Several high-end brands command aisles of their own, so if you’re searching for Hediard, Maxim’s, Fauchon, or Fortnum and Mason, look no farther.
Sea salts, mustards, teas, and bonbons make good gifts that are easy to transport. The selection of wines, cheeses, fish, meats, charcuterie, fresh breads, pastries, chocolates, and other items is downright stunning. Plus a selection of prepared foods to satisfy every appetite. Whether you’re in search of quality ingredients, unusual spices, or a ready-to-eat meal, this place has it all. Just know that they take as much as they give: close your eyes when the cashier rings up the total bill. And allow yourself extra time in case you get stuck, gobsmacked, in an aisle.