Printemps Haussmann, iconic department store

Printemps Haussmann, a name that is self-sufficient!

Printemps Haussmann - Paul Sedille's facade on Boulevard Haussmann
Paul Sedille’s facade on Boulevard Haussmann

Millions of French and foreign visitors indeed flock every year to the iconic department store that has become a symbol of fashion, beauty and luxury.

Located in three adjacent buildings connected by glass and metal footbridges, it offers 43500m2 of sale space spread over 27 floors.

Le Printemps has 7 floors, Le Printemps de la Mode 9 floors, Le Printemps de la Beauté et de la Maison 11 and Le Printemps du Luxe an entire floor. In 2003 the department store indeed boasted the largest Espace Beauté of the world. In 2006 it dedicated 3000m2 to the women’s shoe area, and more recently opened a fine grocery department.

The beginning of success

It all began in 1865 when Jules Jaluzot and Jean-Alfred Duclos founded the first store in an opulent building at the corner of rue du Havre and Boulevard Haussmann.

Printemps Haussmann - Interconnected buildings on Boulevard Haussmann
Interconnected buildings on Boulevard Haussmann

This district of the Right Bank, La Chaussée d’Antin, was then partially built as it was slightly out centered.

The two entrepreneurs, however, worked out that their store would benefit from the important clientele of the next-door Gare Saint-Lazare and covered shopping passages on the Grands Boulevards.

And they were absolutely right!

Parisians already flocked to Le Bon Marché (Paris’ first ever department store), La Samaritaine and Le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville to find the latest article in fashion.

Jaluzot and Duclos named their store Le Printemps (Spring), a symbol of renewal and by extrapolation novelty, a well-chosen name as the store never ever stopped reinventing itself over the decades.

The consecration of success

Le Printemps benefited from an instant success because of its innovative sales techniques.

Not only did it offer new quality products at a low price, but it also introduced the ‘sales’ concept.

It indeed sold last season’s items at a reduced price and on a limited period.

Printemps Haussmann - Lightning and cupola above central hall
Lightning and cupola above central hall

And as Printemps means spring, the store offered a bouquet of violets to its customers at the beginning of the season!

Such was its success that the original store became too small and two buildings in the neighbouring rue of Provence were added in 1874 and iron footbridges built to inter connect them.

Le Printemps Haussmann was also the first department store to be equipped with two elevators to ease access to floors. 

This luxurious innovation (exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1867) generated more success!

This didn’t stop there though, as in the years that followed Le Printemps acquired new buildings, including one on rue Caumartin.

The fire that destroyed them in 1881 (except the latter building) could have sounded the death knell for the department store.

On the contrary, this was an opportunity to rebuild it in the superb architecture of the Belle Époque.

Paul Sédille, one of the leading Art Nouveau architects, designed the glass and metal and fully electrified new buildings.

Printemps Haussmann - Cupola by master glass maker Brière
Cupola by master glass maker Brière

Art Nouveau Printemps at the turning of the 20th century

Gustave Laguionie took over the direction of the store in 1905 and led it to new heights.

He indeed entrusted the renewal of the Printemps Haussmann to the René Binet.

The architect commissioned the master glass-maker Brière with the creation of the magnificent Art Nouveau cupola that caps the central hall.

The new buildings were inaugurated in 1910 and a second store opened in Deauville two years later.

Le Printemps Haussmann, a store in constant reinvention

The fire of 1921 destroyed most of the store, but Georges Wybo rebuilt it to the identical and extended it to rue de Charras, while one of the warehouses was transformed into a new department, Brummell L’Homme Elégant.

This reconstruction was paired with innovation as Le Printemps adopted the concept of temporary exhibits such as its fabulous Christmas displays that are still the end of year sale highlight.

In 1923, the opening of the Havre-Caumartin station on Metro line #2 with direct access to the store triggered more affluence and by 1930 Le Printemps Haussmann already spread over the 3 current buildings.

Printemps Haussmann - Paul Sedille's colourful architecture
Paul Sedille’s colourful architecture

In 1931 the store adopted the single-price concept for consumer products and founded Prisunic (a small supermarket).

WWII obviously had a negative impact on trade, and it was not until the 1950s that business resumed and massive transformations took place to adapt to the evolution of the clientele.

By the late 1960s there were 23 Printemps department stores in France, 13 Prisunic and several branches.

The economic crisis of the 1970s pushed Le Printemps to reinvent itself once more.

Several new departments were added: food (Disco), clothing (Armand Thiery) and sale by correspondence (La Redoute).

New stores were open worldwide (Japan, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul and Jeddah).

Finally Francois Pinault acquired Le Printemps in 1991 and merged it with his own group, adding beauty, lifestyle, fashion and accessory and men departments.

A Qatari-controlled investment fund acquired Le Printemps in 2013.

Directions: 9th district – 64 Boulevard Haussmann
Metro station: Havre-Caumartin on Lines 3 – 9
Coordinates: Lat 48.874194 – Long 2.328098

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