Place Catalogne gets a makeover
The iconic building of the Dames de France, a listed building whose impressive dome proudly looks over place Catalogne, used to house the department store, FNAC. Back in 2021, FNAC moved to the basement of Galerie Lafayette, leaving the future of the iconic building hanging in the balance.
The Dames de France was bought (once again) by the Mairie de Perpignan for 3 million euros. The intention: to breathe life back into the former busy square.
Although the former FNAC premises remain vacant for now, if you’ve recently visited Place Catalogne, you’ve surely noticed the major works, giving a welcome face lift the area.
History of Dames de France
Originally built in 1905, the Dames de France 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.
Find out more here.
Look out for the statue sitting proudly in Place 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. Find out more here.