Corey Frye, also known as “A French Frye in Paris,” spends much of his days pounding the cobblestones in Paris as he leads tours around the city. Along the way, he spots wonderful panoramas, cafés, historic sites, and more. These “Paris Moments” he shares with Bonjour Paris readers in a column featuring the Photo of the Month. (View past editions here.) Enjoy!
Put a bunch of Paris lovers in a room and the conversation will inevitably turn to hidden gems – an onion soup that’ll change your life, a quiet courtyard frozen in time, or a bar that serves absinthe like they did in the 1890s (La Fée Verte on Rue de la Roquette if you’re keeping score).
One that will always be special to me is this former headquarters of Société Générale. It’s one of France’s largest banks and if you’re wiley enough to slip through the doors of 29 Boulevard Haussmann, you’re in for a transporting experience. Heavily inspired by the Eiffel-fication of Paris, its high iron arches and grandiose skylights were revealed to the world in 1912 and rivaled even the neighborhood’s luxurious department stores. For historical context, the Titanic made its infamous voyage just months before the grand opening.
While this space could have been easily been turned into some sort of period room museum, it still functions as a bank on weekdays and is open to the public as long as you’re respectful and refrain from taking photos inside. Once you’ve discovered this secret space you may never see the 9th arrondissement the same way again, knowing that just steps from the shopping hordes of Galeries Lafayette you’ve got the ultimate hidden gem in your back pocket.
Photo credit : Société Générale's former headquarters. Photo: Corey Frye
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