The Art Deco Samaritaine department store reopens in Paris

A first glimpse of the Samaritaine, which, after being closed for 16 years, welcomes buyers again, but this time gourmets, champagne drinkers and hotel and spa clients are also invited.

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“Iis it just a big mall? »Apparently asks all those who are not Parisians.

But no, it’s not just a big mall. Far from there. Rather, Samaritan, which finally reopened on June 23 after 16 long years of closure, renovations and minor controversy is the ultimate big store-a 215,000 square foot department store, and more.

And no, there is no “food court” either.

There are, however, 12 bars and restaurants, as well as the largest beauty department in all of Europe (36,000 square feet, to be exact) representing more than 600 brands ranging from high-end and renowned designers to independent designers. In September, there will also be a 72-room hotel with a Dior Cheval Blanc spa that would have the largest swimming pool in all of Paris at nearly 98 feet long as well as a “smaller” pool (40 feet) in an apartment. private. overlooking the Seine. Because Of course.

But let’s start at the beginning, will you?

Founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Louise Jaÿ in the heart of Paris opposite the Pont Neuf, and between the Louvre and Notre-Dame, the building mixes Haussmannian architecture with the art nouveau and deco design originally imagined by the Belgian architect Frantz Jourdain. Jourdain is responsible for the building’s iconic steel beams, glass atrium, intricate tiles and colorful frescoes, the majority of which have been painstakingly restored to their former glory.

However, as a result of her own additions during her tenure (and those of French architect Henri Sauvage who came on board in 1926), the building fell into disuse and disrepair; it was finally closed for security reasons in 2005, barely four years after being acquired by luxury powerhouse LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton with the intention of breathing new life into it. Of the, restoration attempts were continuously blocked by local authorities for failing to meet the planning requirements and, in short, for not making the new building so visually consistent with the rest of Paris. (See also: the new Forum des Halles, which opened in 2016 to many upturned noses too.)

Considering the history, drama, and long shutdown, this reopening is a big deal. Such an affair, in fact, that French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated on June 21 the reinvented space with a plaque alongside the CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault. The Renaissance buildings span an entire city block with nine entrances and upper floors for offices and apartments.

A short guide to Samaritaine shopping

La Samaritaine is not a shopping center and it is not a simple destination, it is a culinary and shopping trip.

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After taking a first look at the reopened space, the “wow factor” is definitely the entrance to 9 rue de la Monnaie for a breathtaking view of the recreated grand staircase. Then, head left to pass through beautifully displayed luxury accessories from Chanel, Burberry, the Row, and Alaia to arrive at Boutique de Loulou, the ultimate chic souvenir shop for all things French, like embroidered pins. of Mâcon and Lesquoy and pillows in wax fabric “Amour” by CSAO. In this space with very instagrammable yellow tones, guests are invited to pose in the store window, which will refresh its display in season, and to post it, of course: #samaritaineparis.

Back towards rue de Rivoli is the new building which is now part of the Samaritaine complex. Designed by the Japanese company Sanaa, it has a completely different aesthetic to the original – the exterior glass edifice is fluid, almost wave-shaped, while the interior is very industrial with cement floors and simple supports. in wood as opposed to the terrazzo mosaics underfoot in the original building. The products on offer here are all considered genderless and represent the best of street fashion and loungewear with more low-key brands, such as Y Project and Frankie Shop, which will alternate frequently. The store also has various pop-up spaces, including one where gallery owner Emmanuel Perottin has installed exclusive posters, books and more from pop artists, such as Takashi Murakami.

Exclusive items created only for Samaritaine are featured in this shopping and dining empire, from eco-friendly sneaker collaborations organized by Shinzo Paris and € 1,200 (US $ 1,430) bottles of Lalique perfume with seasonal berry pies and chocolate bars from the chocolatier Dalloyau.

Where to eat at la Samaritaine

Caffeinate with roasts exclusive to Zinc.

Speaking of food, smaller, otherwise unknown houses such as Bogato, a creative pastry shop in the Marais, and Burning room goblins, a small roaster in the Fifth Arrondissement, were permanently and prominently placed to sell their pastries and coffee, respectively, in the Rivoli building. Each has created specialties especially for Samaritan woman — Sweet Corner by Bogato offers playful delicacies in the form of foods like hot dogs and hamburgers, while Zinc by Brûlerie des Gobelins has created an exclusive Peruvian-Honduran blend, which can be brewed in several ways. (try the cold brew extraction).

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There are a variety of additional take-out restaurants to refuel while taking a brief shopping break, including Dinette, where tables have built-in USB sockets (very useful), and La Parisienne de la Reine from grocery store Delphine Plisson. If you’re looking for something more sophisticated and a bit more removed from the retail experience, there’s also this: Ernest is a two-story all-day bakery-brasserie in the Rivoli building, while Voyage is a more elegant, multi-event space and dining room serving gourmet fare under the light-flooded atrium and surrounded by a peacock-colored mural that dates back to the early days of the original building.

The Eric Kayser bakery on Ernest’s ground floor opens at 7 a.m. with croissants at € 1 (US $ 1.20) and the Parisian pastry of the day, babka, while chef Naoëlle d’Hainaut serves a mix of dishes such as eggplant baked in a crusty bun, fish and chips in tzatziki sauce, and an entire ‘family meal’ of roast chicken with vegetables (42 euros, or US $ 50) for four people in the space relaxed upstairs.

Meet at the Gourmet Voyage area for gourmet cuisine and drinks.

On the fifth floor of Voyage, Mathieu Viannay, two Michelin stars, will welcome a rotating collective of chefs, while the famous mixologist Mathias Giraud is responsible for smart drink selections. The dishes on the Voyage menu include bites of mini croque monsieur sandwiches made with wagyu beef, a filet of sole in a champagne butter sauce and, for dessert, a matcha panna cotta with cherries infused with amaretto. As for where you choose to sit, can we suggest the round table under an ice ceiling along rue de l’Abre Sec overlooking the Gothic Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois?

If you’re feeling really keen, book the table inside Studio Krug, a private champagne tasting room where the sparkling grand cuvée is paired with music and a multi-course menu in a space soundproofed by the king speaker. Devialet. (Price available on request.)

Coming soon

In the fall, visitors can book a room at the Cheval Blanc.

To the hotel White horse officially opens September 7 and reveals its exclusive haven of 26 rooms and 46 suites – including a 7,000 square foot duplex with the aforementioned pool, private screening room and panoramic views of the Seine – visitors will need to spend their nights elsewhere . (In the neighboring second arrondissement, the Sentier Hotel is a charming choice for a sunny, contemporary style stay behind an old Egyptian facade.)

Whether you are spending the night or not, there is plenty to see and do during opening hours. Samaritaine is a journey and not a destination, a true traveler’s retreat where you can explore a past steeped in history, examine iconic architecture and design (old and new), savor delicious treats and feel a true sense of membership. It’s like you’re in a Parisian department store like no other because, well, you are. Don’t call it a mall.

Samaritaine will be open 364 days a year – May 1, Labor Day, is the only day it will close – and the store itself is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the exception of Ernest, which is open until ‘at midnight, and Voyage, which is open until 2 a.m.

>> Next: Where to eat in Paris, according to Eric Frechon, one of the most famous chefs in France

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