One of the many delights of walking around Paris is to linger over shop windows and food counters along the way, with their neat rows of pastries, chocolates, or bouquets of vegetables displayed in attractive, elegant and appetizing arrangements. This long tradition of gastronomic pride, quality and curiosity has been distilled to its essence and poured into one grail.
In 1852, Aristide Boucicaut invented modern shopping with his first department store, Le Bon Marché. With his wife Marguerite, they created a commercial model that would soon be copied all over the world. In 1923 they opened the food counter across the street on the corner of Rue du Bac, offering the finest teas and preserves and fresh produce being showcased to create a unique array. In 1978 it was renamed La Grande Epicerie de Paris placing itself firmly as one of the top tier grocers in the capital.
Walking into la Grande Epicerie de Paris or grand‘ep for short, is one of those sharp-intake-of-breath moments that you recognize as something to remember. First you are hit by the scale. It occupies an area just short of 3,000m2 (32,200 square feet) and sells 30,000 gourmet products. Then there’s the atmosphere. In the manner of a designer fashion showroom, each display showcases the best of fresh produce and ingredients from around the world. Good taste is elusive to define, but this is what it looks like.
Their secret weapon lies behind the scenes but becomes visible to anyone alert enough to perceive it—the expertise of the staff. Rather than merely buying what you need, you are there to discover. It is evident that great care has been taken on the selection and display of each item by the small army of trained professionals working in the lab in the basement. They keep surpassing, anticipating and even directing the expectations of their customers by offering the tried and tasted together with the latest, greatest and most appetizing.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris consists of four main departments: groceries, fresh produce, a wondrous wine cellar and the production kitchens. If you don’t feel like waiting to get home to sample the goods there are two options to consume sur place:
Le Comptoir Picnic
For an informal bite with its wok fried, steamed and à la plancha dishes.
Open from Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am to 8pm.
Le Café de La Grande Epicerie
For a more intimate lunch, try the cafe at La Grande Epicerie de Paris, serving salads, delicious toasted sandwiches, soups and various dishes of the day.
Open from Monday to Wednesday between 10.30am and 6.30pm, and from Thursday to Saturday between 10.30am and 7pm.
LA GRANDE EPICERIE DE PARIS
38, rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
Tel – 01.44.39.81.00
Fax – 01.44.39.81.17
Open Monday to Saturday, 8:30am to 9pm
Métro: lines 10 and 12 – Sèvres Babylone