The crossroads of rue de Sevres and boul Raspail offer a feast for the eye. A square, a hotel, and a shopping ‘marché’ are only the beginning. Here there are places to relax, to eat or drink, or do some of the most exciting shopping in Paris.
How to get there?
As you come out of the metro station the Lutetia Hotel faces you. It is closed for a long time to get a new shape. On your right is the Square Boucicaud with the beautiful marble statue and farther beyond the park is one of the most famous art deco giant super stores in the world. This is the shopping centre Au bon Marché bordering on the famous rue du Bac.
It started with the desire to build a store with ‘good value’. Founded by Louis-Aristide Boucicaud, the architect he consulted was none other than Gustav Eiffel. This super store had something for every taste. There were upscale clothes, household furnishings, lingerie and imported foods.
The store is still there with its high art deco ceiling and staircases now turned to escalators. There is a feeling of riches and sedate shopping as items from around the world are on sale.
The Germans came and changed things
But things change when the Germans took over Paris and requisitioned the hotel as one of their headquarters. But plaques on the wall, inside and out, depict the facts that when the Germans left Paris, the hotel was used to repatriate Jewish families. Needy people where put up here until they could be found by relatives.
The welcome center was established by Sabine Zlatin later known as the lady of Izieu (mentioned in my last article). I had an eerie feeling, walking through the lobby and dining room, but it was mixed with a feeling of euphoria as I knew the part this magnificent structure played in the 1940’s. The shpping centre is still very special, but it is not that outstanding anymore than it was before.