The transformation in small steps of the Jeu-de-Paume, the "Champs-Élysées of Montpellier"
"Here is the boulevard of the demonstrations", remarks, a little annoyed, Élisabeth Talhouët, the president of the traders of the boulevard du Jeu-de-Paume and manager of the Paum's clothing and accessories store.
Five years after the commissioning of the extension of line 4 of the tramway, via boulevard Ledru-Rollin and Le Peyrou, the so-called "Champs-Élysées Montpellier" artery seems to be struggling to find its cruising speed.
"The municipality and the prefecture repeat that we are not part of the city center. Every Saturday, we are entitled to protest parades. It's systematic, it's a disaster", notes the shopkeeper.
For her, the devil also hides elsewhere: "There are no locomotives", implied by the big brands. In 2013, Nespresso moved in. "There are also NorthFace, Majestic which attract. But there are too many tertiary, empty premises."
Along the two boulevards, the report is visible, a good dozen vacant leases, iron curtains lowered, indelible stains. "The Serm is too demanding for rents. There are premises that rent for €2,000 per month for 30 m2. It's far too much. And the private owners are too demanding. Monoprix had to settle, the project flipped over."
The only good news at the end of the year is the opening of a Mr. Bricolage. "It's a good thing, with pop-up stores."
The new trend
A new wave of businesses is breaking out, concept stores, places of conviviality and shopping. Joséphine and Charlotte navigate between the bar and the racks of the Palma coffee shop.
The store offers ready-to-wear, delicatessen, decoration corner and a cozy space to drink a coffee and enjoy some sweets: "The year has been difficult, but we see that people are getting back into the habit of take a walk, confide the sales assistants, "we have customers who come from the Écusson. Yes, there is the concept store effect. " A few culinary addresses are missing.
"We are lucky to have the Amazone Coffee right next door, it attracts." The lunchtime brunch café has found its clientele "60 to 70% tourists", comment Nicolas and Charline, the managers.
Close to Place Edouard-Adam, the café is clearly visible. "There are more people since the opening of the Laissac halls." Opposite, on the Peyrou side, at the very top of boulevard Ledru-Rollin, Laurent, owner of the flea market snack-bar concept, stationery gallery Régal, comments: "It was a challenge, the commercial flow is lower on the Game- de-Paume. I managed to federate a community."
Among the latter, tourists, foreign students. "They are used to places like this. I understand that the concept is difficult to grasp. But I could not have held on to a single store."
For Élisabeth Talhouët, the two arteries must evolve: "Retail attracts. We need a city center manager, as exists elsewhere. Visuals, visibility. That we are integrated into tourist circuits."
With its Haussmann facades, its perspective as far as the station, the artery is one of the most beautiful in the city. A few garlands have been installed on the palm trees for the Christmas celebrations. "Insufficient", according to traders. They plan to install fir trees.