Idea #723 – Visiting La Samaritaine, the temple of Parisian luxury
La Samaritaine is a “Grand magasin”, a large store, located in Paris, between rue de Rivoli and the Seine, at the Pont Neuf. Founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq, La Samaritaine was the largest Parisian “department store” by area, totaling a sales area of 48,000 square meters, until it closed in 2005.
After having exercised various job of salesman as an employee or for his own account, Ernest Cognacq rented, from March 21, 1870, the annex room of a little cafe, little used, to make a small shop of novelties, baptized “À La Samaritaine”, which was almost immediately successful. In January 1872, Ernest Cognacq married Marie-Louise Jaÿ, a former first saleswoman in the confectionery department of Bon Marché, with whom he now intends to run the store. Growing from 48 square meters in 1870 to several hundred square meters in 1874, the store prospered and gradually expanded, giving birth in 1900 to the “Department Stores of La Samaritaine”.
By acquiring buildings near the store, Ernest Cognacq regularly enlarges his store. Under the direction of architect Frantz Jourdain and then Henri Sauvage, the various buildings were completely refurbished or gradually rebuilt from 1883 to 1933, in an attempt to give them an apparent architectural unity, in the art nouveau and art deco style.
Transformation and safety works began in 2005, and were initially scheduled to last 6 years. Several events, including appeals from residents or the collapse of a wall, postponed the reopening 10 years later, in 2021. The inauguration will take place in the presence of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and Bernard Arnault, President of the LVMH group, owner of the premises.
The work highlights the grand staircase – with a railing adorned with 16,000 gold leaves, while the 270 original steps, in oak, have been preserved – and the enamelled lava decorations made a century earlier by Jourdain and Eugène Grasset. The names of the departments of the old store have been preserved on some facades, as well as the eponymous mosaic. A 5 * hotel has also been added in front of the Seine, with a breathtaking view. The main store is listed as a historical monument.
In this original visit, we invite you to discover the Samaritaine a few weeks after its reopening, restored, compared with the work phase a few months earlier. As a bonus, discover the iconic mosaic filmed up close, from a scaffolding, and a view from the hotel’s most luxurious suite!
Where is it ?
La Samaritaine, Paris, France.