New Life for Dames de France
The iconic building of the Dames de France, listed building whose impressive dome proudly looks over place Catalogne, has been bought (once again) by the Mairie de Perpignan for 3 million euros. The intention: to breathe life back into the former busy square.
The principal occupant of the building, the FNAC, (Fédération nationale d’achats) (national purchasing federation), downsized in 2019 to the basement floor of its competitor, the Galéries Lafayette in a bid to survive as online sales sky rocket.
A bit of history
Originally built in 1905, the building rose up from the recently demolished ramparts to house the ‘Aux Dames de France’ department store.
Full of the latest fashions and products from Paris, it symbolised France’s modernity, an early step towards the liberation of women and, of course, big business.
Until the late 1970s, it was exactly that. One of the most prosperous businesses in the town, the store employed over 300 people during the boom years of the 50s and 60s. However, over the next 10 years, the business suffered losses, passing through the hands of various owners until it eventually closed its doors in 1989.
It remained locked up and deteriorating for 20 years, until, in 2000, the Mairie of Perpignan decided to buy the building. The following year, FNAC took on the lease and invested €10 million in works to restore the building to its former glory.
Once again, the building grew to become a Perpignan institution. 2,000m² of shop over 3 levels, with escalators rising up, seemingly to the sky because of the beautiful glass dome. Culture lovers of all ages would browse the book shelves, ogle the technology or book tickets for the hottest shows in town.
Look out for the statue, in front of the former FNAC in the place de Catalogne. Originally created in 2000 by artistic duo Sabine et Eric, known as ’Les Pritchards’, the statue was inspired by Dali’s 1965 painting ‘Le mystique de la gare de Perpignan. MORE
Find out more here.