An Ode to BHV
I was a fan of the series Mr. Selfridge. If anyone watched it you would be aware of the concept of the department store and the revolutionary way it changed shopping habits. As a 21st century dweller I don’t quite understand this, and for the most part have never really been a fan of the department store. I’ve worked in two when I was younger; Macy’s and Neiman Marcus. I enjoyed working in them, because I am an organized person who has a love for color, display, and clothes, but as a shopper I much prefer the ability to go to stand alone stores. It's so much easier.
However my deference for them changed when I stepped into BHV. A little history; BHV was founded in 1852 by Xavier Ruel. He sold items along rue Rivoli and saw the potential of having a space across from the Hôtel de Ville. This first floor store later expanded to the entire building, which is what we see today.
I can’t remember when exactly I stepped into BHV. I used to live near it on Verrerie. but I visited it before that. My friend Geraldine might have been the one to show it to me. When I visited it for the first time I fell in love. Paris does department stores right. They are things of beauty. While most Parisian’s would probably consider Le Bon Marche the finest department store, I find it poorly designed and the building a maze. The Grande Épicerie on the other hand is quite an amazing place. Anyhow of all of the Parisian department stores BHV has always been my favorite.
First you have to realize that BHV doesn’t just sell department store staples like clothes, shoes and handbags. The entire basement is dedicated to bricolage (and an Anthropologie). It’s like having Home Depot in a Nordstrom. You can buy everything, even wall paper.
For men they’ll probably love that they can avoid the main shopping site all together as the men’s store is located across the street (the building with the plant wall). In that area you can also find the pet store, and the courtyard with more food options, and one of my favorite things: the old fashioned photo booth. I made Christian Kinnersley take photos in one whenever we saw one. I remember one night I made him stop by this one in the pouring rain. Suffice to say I did not look cute, but I got my pictures.
It wasn’t just my shopping destination. I used to visit the 3rd floor often when I was in need of internet. The leather bench seat near Starbucks housed me for some time. I could sit there all day and no one would bat an eye.
I’ve purchased pillows from the home department on the fourth floor. Stocked up on beauty products on the rdc. Sonia and I used to window shop the 5th floor when I took her to dance classes. I went on dates at the rooftop bar, which opens after closing. But my absolute favorite were the books, and arts and crafts on the 2nd. BHV was my go to store. Best of all it's open 7 days a week.
There are a few annexes for the Gucci, Moncler, and Givenchy stores along rue de Archives but I never considered them apart of BHV. For me the main location on Rivoli is the BHV “store”. If you are ever in need, or just want to oogle products, give it a go. It's not terribly big, and you won’t have a hard time exploring it. As an added bonus you can find all of those amazing, only found in France gifts to take back home. Just be careful on the weekends, as you may guess that's the busiest time. And a pro-tip, when it's raining I like to take the ligne 1 exit through there as you can avoid the rain, getting closer to Temple (the Top Shop part) or Archives (the pharmacy part) without a drop on you.