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History of Retail - La Madeleine, Paris

The first of our European stores occupies one of the most glamorous parts of the French capital, bringing our distinct British sensibility to the heart of Europe’s most fashionable city.

History of Retail - La Madeleine, Paris

There are few destinations more glamorous than Paris’s 8th Arrondissement, home to landmarks like the Place de la Madeleine, the Champs-Elysées, the legendary Hôtel Crillon, and the Arc de Triomphe. It’s Paris’s heart, one of its most architecturally rich districts and home to many of the city’s most prestigious stores too.

The centrepiece of the neighbourhood is a grand building that could easily be mistaken for a Greek temple at first glance, L’église de la Madeleine. This 350-feet long, 140-feet wide and 100-feet tall monument is surrounded by no less than 52 Corinthian columns, and was commissioned by Napoléon 1st in 1803 as a shrine to his armies at the centre of the Place de la Madeleine. It was completed in 1824, but a church has stood on this spot since 1238.

Once you’ve paid your respects to this 19th century monolith, La Madeleine’s web of grand limestone-clad streets is the perfect place for some retail therapy; famous tailors like Cifonelli and Camps de Luca have their ateliers here, designers like Berluti were founded here, and Charvet, one of the finest shirtmakers in the world, founded in 1838, has its workrooms just around the corner on the Place Vendôme.

The 8th arrondissement is also known for its confectionary. Ladureé, maker of delicious macarons has a cafe on the Champs-Elysées, with superb hot chocolate and its famous cakes to snack on. The famous purveyor of mustard, Maille, has its flagship store here (not in Dijon, strangely) and has been mixing fine mustards infused with everything from black truffles to white wine since 1747. Another famous culinary destination in La Madeleine is the delicatessen Fauchon, which was founded in 1846 and is known for its world class patisserie, cheese and charcuterie.

Returning to La Madeleine weighed down with the best foodie treats that the city has to offer, you’ll find our first Parisian shop on the Rue Chauveau-Lagarde, which opened in 1998. It remains one of our most palatial shops today, with separate departments for our Hand Grade and Mainline collections, plus a workshop for the Maitre Bottier who creates made-to-measure shoes on the premises. Jean-Dominique, one of our managers in Paris, took a few minutes out to share some thoughts on the location of our Parisian flagship.

‘I love walking across the square towards the store. As you approach, a gorgeous mix of dark varnished mahogany and British Racing green paints grabs your attention, contrasting with golden letters revealing a well-known name: Crockett & Jones. Given the rich historical background of La Madeleine, it was an obvious spot to settle in when C&J decided to expand its business to Paris.

‘I love how the shop’s presence is such a strong contrast to the French brands that surround it. We represent the English culture of shoemaking in a city with its own shoemaking tradition, so we stand out from the crowd style-wise, but blend in in terms of quality. Twenty one years since it opened, the store has become part of the scenery. I’m pleased to report that it ranks among the most beautiful stores in Paris today, and brings its own sense elegance to the heart of our capital city.’

Certainly, Crockett & Jones not might be as a la mode as Paris’s cutting edge designers, creatives and artists, but we have succeeded in transplanting a little bit of timeless British style in the centre of one of the most fashionable cities on earth.