Department store shopping has never been of great interest to me when visiting Paris with one notable exception, the food court at Galeries Lafayette. That basement features an epicurean feast which commands a visit to the store for that reason alone. But for the average visitor the leading departments stores are expensive crowded and difficult to navigate. I prefer the smaller more unique shops and think that most of us do.
There is one exception to this and that is BHV. BHV is simply a shopping mecca. An emporium that sells just about everything you can imagine in one giant store located on the rue de Rivoli just across from the City Hall at Rue De Lobau. Add some surprisingly decent sushi in a quiet food court on the 5th floor and you have a shopping experience worth searching out. Imagine Macy’s, Home Depot, Blowfish SF and Crate and Barrel in one store. As background, BHV stands for ‘bazaar hotel de ville’ and has been in business for over 150 years . There is one main branch in Paris with the men’s store located in a separate building a few blocks away and a number of specialized satellite stores (paint, bikes, etc.) exist throughout the city.
By far the most interesting section of BHV (at least for the guys) is the hardware store located in the basement level. It is a veritable toy store of the odd featuring a broad assortment of gear from strange ornate locks and keys to unusual light fixtures, precision drills and cutting tools. You can find everything from nails to glue to BBQ’s all made and sold with a peculiar European twist that makes it all just a bit, well, different and fascinating.
Once you head up the elevator the store you move through more traditional areas, women’s fashion, house wares, kitchen goods, lighting of all kinds, art and posters, mirrors and on and on and etc. It is all there from lingerie to garden tools. There are multiple choices for everything sold, you don’t find one frying pan, you find what seems like hundreds of them from Tefal right through to gourmet Swiss and Italian lines I have never seen in a kitchen store that implores you to spend spend spend.
Like most stores it is terribly overheated during winter and after a while this gets to me. That and hunger. What BHV also features is a respite, an escape from the crowds up on the 5th floor. We almost gasped when we stumbled onto the sushi bar, it was that beautiful. Now, I know that Sushi Store is a chain, but as you will see from the photos, they put a lot of money into building this oasis and it has an incredible atmosphere.
Other eating alternatives exist including a decent café with what looked like good pastries and a deli selling splits of white and red wine as well as champagne.Being on the 5th floor, there are great views as well.
Refreshed by a bowls of miso, avocado and unagi rolls and several cups of green tea, we were ready to shop again and did.
Later we visited the BHV homme store, around the corner. Even though many things were on sale that day, it was remarkably expensive and very youth fashion driven. Here is Olivia in “doudouland’ a family favorite destination.
It also has a chic café on the first floor when you are in need of caffeine as being enjoyed by Olivia’s boyfriend Guillaume, seen below.
If you are in Paris and you need something and you can’t figure out where to get it the odds are that BHV will have it, especially if you are renting an apartment for several months or forgot that thing at home.
And they do it in style.
BHV. 20 minutes from the Yellow Flat by metro, line 8 direction Creteil, transfer at Concorde line 1 Chateau de Vincennes stations. Exit Hotel de Ville.
BHV rue Rivoli
0977 401 400