Along the Seine, La Samaritaine, a former famous department store, remains an icon of Art Nouveau architecture at the most representative in Paris. It closed in 2005 for safety reasons that were difficult to be accepted among the Parisians.
Since then, this popular and emblematic building was in the middle of a battle between the new owner (the French luxury-goods giant LVMH) and the Paris authorities. But since the end of 2015, major renovation works have been carried out, a compromise being reached at last between the parties: yes there will be a luxury hotel (le Cheval Blanc), luxury shop arcades and offices, but also a “crèche”(nursery) and social housing, which would have pleased the two founders, the couple Cognac-Jay.
They opened their first boutique in 1870 and named it “La Samaritaine” according to the former water fountain on the Pont Neuf. Very “entrepreneurs” for this period, the couple added more shops around, a high concurrence for the Bon Marché, where Mme Jay has been the first vendor… The shops started to be more and more prosperous, and at this time the life there was as described in “Bonheur des Dames” from Emile Zola. The buildings were transformed to big stores with art nouveau style along Quai du Louvre and rue de Rivoli.
“on trouve tout à la Samaritaine » (everything can be found in “Samaritaine”)
this was what contributed to its reputation all over Paris, and this was true: the most choices over the largest shop area in Paris: 70.000 square meters to shop in the heart of Paris (Les Halles being so close). This catchword was and still remains famous for us as it was used in so many commercial films, and I’m more than happy to share this one
Let’s hope that the new “Samaritaine” will keep its humor!