La Samaritaine department store, a Parisian icon, has just opened again after a 16-year wait and a €750 million makeover, giving the retail sector a much-needed boost.
LVMH, the French luxury conglomerate, has partnered with retail operator DFS to restore the original 19th Century building overlooking the Pont Neuf and to build a brand new contemporary-looking wing with a rippling glass facade.
La Samaritaine, which had originally opened in 1910 in the first arrondissement, a stone’s throw from the Louvre, had been closed down in 2005 for safety reasons after a long decline.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the building a “wonderful French treasure” when he inaugurated the revamped department store.
The original 1910 building was expanded in the 1920s and it is regarded as a rare example of both Art Nouveau and Art Deco, with grand wrought-iron features, floral motifs, ceramic decorations, enamel panelling and colourful frescoes as well as the iconic golden yellow sign on top.
The main hall has a grand, monumental staircase and five central landing rails in wrought iron and unobstructed view of the glass roof at the top. The store will sell 600 brands, 50 of which will be exclusive to La Samaritaine. The beauty department in the basement of the store is described as the largest in Europe at 3.500 sqm.
“Throughout this project we have remained faithful to the spirit of the place, embracing modernity and boldly proposing contrasts”, said Jean-Jacques Guiony, chairman and Ceo, La Samaritaine. “It has always been a pioneer and it continues to be a trailblazer today”.
La Samaritaine with its four floors used to be the largest department store in Paris, at 53,000 sqm. The newly-opened version is half that size, because it will be a dining and tourist as well as a shopping destination and it will have restaurants and a brand new hotel. The two main formal dining restaurants, Ernest and Voyage, are on the top floor under the big glass roof and there are ten cafes and tea salons scattered around the building.
The five-star Cheval Blanc hotel, separate to the department store, will have 72 rooms and suites with views over the River Seine as well as four restaurants and a Dior spa. The penthouse suite has its own swimming pool. The luxury hotel is set to open in September, with prices starting at €1,500. Now all the hotel, the department store and Paris need is for tourists to return en masse.