The Samaritaine: A Temple Of Luxury In Paris
The Samaritaine, which is one of the oldest and most famous department stores in the capital, reopened its doors to customers on June 23, 2021. Now owned by the LVMH group, this grand store in the heart of Paris unveils beautifully renovated architecture and decor.
A highly anticipated reopening.
Must-visit store of Belle Epoque Paris, La Samaritaine reopened its doors to the public in 2021, after fifteen years of closure and six long years of site securing works.
Originally scheduled for April 2020, the reopening of the famous department store on Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement was postponed to Wednesday, June 23, 2021, due to the health crisis.
Its highly anticipated inauguration was celebrated on Monday, June 21, by Bernard Arnault (CEO of the LVMH group), in the presence of Emmanuel Macron and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. On this occasion, the President of the Republic praised "a tremendous heritage treasure (and) a French way of life".
A store full of history.
It must be said that this department store located in the heart of Paris is a true institution! Founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ, it is one of the 5 major department stores in Paris along with Galeries Lafayette, BHV, Printemps, and Le Bon Marché (which is also owned by the LVMH group).
In 1870, Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ opened a modest shop called "La Samaritaine" at the entrance of Pont-Neuf. This name was chosen because of a huge water pump that used to be installed just across the street, on Pont-Neuf, to supply water to the Louvre.
With success on their side, the couple gradually expanded their business into neighboring shops, until they reached Rue de Rivoli. In this innovative store, the Cognacq-Jaÿ couple revolutionized commerce by offering low and fixed prices, the possibility to handle and try out items, as well as consumer credit!
In 1910, they inaugurated an Art Nouveau building designed by Frantz Jourdain, which was later joined by an Art Deco building designed by Henri Sauvage in 1928. Over the following decades, the "Samar" as Parisians call it, became the go-to place to follow the latest fashion trends.
However, after experiencing its golden age in the 1960s, this department store began its decline. The retail space gradually reduced from 100,000 square meters to 30,000 square meters.
In 2001, the LVMH group acquired La Samaritaine for 230 million euros. But four years later, the store had to close for renovation work to comply with safety standards. The famous Parisian address then underwent a long and costly renovation.
In total, the LVMH group invested nearly 1 billion euros to renovate this classified site and revitalize an entire neighborhood of the capital. The monumental project allowed for the construction of a new retail and office space on Rue de Rivoli, as well as the creation of a luxury hotel and, at the request of the City of Paris, social housing and a nursery. The Cheval Blanc hotel, occupying the Art Deco building by Henri Sauvage along the Seine, welcomed its first guests in September 2021.
A gem of architecture.
Fifteen years later, the new Samaritaine reopens its doors and unveils to the eyes a beautifully renovated architectural gem. The central part of the store was built by Frantz Jourdain in the Art Nouveau style with Eiffel metal structures. These structures have regained their original blue-gray color.
It took six years of work and a hundred craftsmen to restore the former splendor to this 20,000 square meter store and its interior decorations. The spectacular grand staircase has been regilded with gold leaf and leads to a monumental Art Nouveau fresco, 115 meters long!
Completely restored for the store's reopening, this magnificent peacock fresco is the highlight of the show. It unfolds its rediscovered colors under the glass roof built in 1907.
A new temple of luxury.
Once a popular department store, La Samaritaine is starting a new life. Now beautifully refurbished, it aims to regain its prestige as a new shopping destination for Parisians and Asian tourists.
Spread across its 20,000 square meters of retail space, there are no less than 700 brands represented, with half of them being French brands.
Luxury labels such as Vuitton, Céline, Dior, and Chanel, as well as more affordable options, share the spaces from the first to the fourth floor dedicated to fashion and accessories.
In the basement, there is a 3,000 square meter beauty area (the largest in Paris in 2021) where you can discover exclusive beauty gems and pamper yourself in a spa and beauty studio. And if shopping makes you hungry, note that the entire fifth floor is dedicated to gastronomy, with a dozen bars and restaurants catering to all tastes.
Once you cross the glass bridge, the scenery changes! You will find yourself in the Rivoli store, another more modern building that offers a younger and more urban selection. Behind its new undulating glass facade, you can find Shinzo sneakers, streetwear and sportswear fashion, as well as limited editions, pop-up spaces, and customization workshops.
One hundred and fifty years after its creation, you can still find everything at La Samaritaine!