Before French President Emmanuel Macron met with Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey, at the Elysées Palace in Paris, he was alongside LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault to cut the proverbial ribbon on one of the most beloved department stores in all of France. The reopening of la Samaritaine—affectionately referred to as “la Samar” by Parisians—has finally occurred, 16 years after closing for renovations.
The department store is featured in a 1907 steel frame and glass Art Nouveau building by Belgian architect Frantz Jourdain that overlooks the Seine on the right bank in the 1st arrondissement. It is listed as a historical monument by the French Ministry of Culture since 1990. La Samaritaine houses the French art de vivre, which translates to shopping, eating, and culture. Dozens of fashion and jewelry houses are curated to offer a very French mix and match style—think Alaïa, Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Chloé, Chanel, Piaget, Chaumet, and Tiffany & Co., along with regional names like Shourouk and Vanina alongside a blend of Scandi-cool brands like Ganni, Rotate, and Rains. Meanwhile, avant-garde Parisian sneaker brand Shinzo Paris offers a unique concept featuring 100 m2 of exclusive, ethical, and responsible sneakers, each one fulfilling one of their five criteria: local, recycled, vegan, organic, or reconditioned. Looking closely, shoppers will see there are many limited editions and previews available to La Samaritaine along with what is the biggest beauty space in Europe exclusively featuring Dolce & Gabbana Beauty, Helena Rubinstein, Clé de Peau Beauté, SK-II, Fragonard, Orveda, and Sulwhasoo. There are also five dedicated beauty spots including a spa and a house of perfume.
There are 12 varied places to eat everything from caviar to burgers, while books by Assouline and a pop-up Perrotin Gallery will seduce tourists and Parisians alike. Take the elevators to the top to witness the spectacular Art Nouveau peacock fresco restored to its former glory. At 3.5 meters high and 115 meters long, it is the work of the architect Jourdain’s son Francis. Alternatively, shoppers can also climb the 270 original oak steps. The railing has been restored with 16000 gold leaves. The artist Francis was also commissioned by his father to decorate the store facade with enameled Volvic lava that serves to soften the structure. Adding a touch of contemporary architecture are the glass waves forming the facade of the Rivoli street side designed by Japanese architects of the Sanaa agency. For a lucky few, after a full day of shopping and sightseeing, La Samaritaine is adjoined by a ultra-luxe Cheval Blanc Paris hotel, complete with a Dior Spa.