© Le Bon Marché

It’s a small nation, but one with quite a big reputation. We’re talking Belgium, a multi-lingual patch of land wedged in between France, Germany and the Netherlands. Arguably best known for its fashion, old master painters and chocolate to most people, the shortlist doesn’t do justice to the country’s impressive legacy in comic strips, spawning a slew of hugely popular protagonists such as The Smurfs, Marsupilami, Largo Winch, Spirou & Fantasio, Lucky Luke and Gaston. Well, a true universe of Belgian comic strips has now been brought to life across the premises of Le Bon Marché, one of Paris‘ leading luxury department stores. Entitled Il était une fois la Belgique, or ‘Once upon a time in Belgium’ in English, the immersive event, curated by Belgian actor, author and director Stéphane De Groodt, sees a not only transformation of the department store, brilliantly anchored by a bold cartoon makeover of its iconic staircase, but also an infusion of carefully sourced Belgian merchandise. Le Bon Marché‘s windows signal the Belgian takeover from afar, and once inside, shoppers can indulge in wide variety of dedicated product sections covering Belgium‘s finest, all accompanied by the country’s most popular comic strip characters.

Mind you, it’s an event which offers a surrealist shopping experience of sorts, but also a rewarding one for those with a penchant for the good things in life. So, what’s on the shelves at Le Bon Marché? The offerings are plentiful and varied, and obviously, they’re anchored by playful merchandise celebrating Belgium‘s colourful cartoon characters, and there’s a customisation workshop where to tweak any purchased trophy. The women’s department includes pop-up stores by Essentiel and Delvaux, in addition to a multi-brand one stocking exclusive niche labels, including KASSL Editions, Valentine Witmeur and Sofie d’Hoore, while the men’s department sees an infusion of cool Belgian streetwear and leisure brands, such as Antwrp, Bellerose, Arte, La Patate and skateboards by The Skateroom. The store’s library is now brimming with comic books, comic book box sets, and even a pastry counter, just like Belgian cafés where patrons chat about books over a bite or drink. And being an ultimate gourmet nation – yes, that too! – La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the department store’s affiliated delicatessen shop further down the road, has stocked a slew of its delicacies, ranging from chocolates and biscuits, to dry fruits and artisanal beers (on through Oct 18).

Le Bon Marché
24 rue de Sèvres (St.-Germain)
75007 Paris
Telephone: +33 1 44398000
Mon-Sat 10-7.45
Sun 11-7.45

© Le Bon Marché