Luxury department store in Paris La Samaritaine shines in new splendor
Status: 23.06.2021 2:09 p.m.
It is one of the most famous shopping addresses in the world: La Samaritaine in Paris. The legendary department store was lavishly renovated for 16 years. Today it opened its doors again.
From Stefanie Markert, ARD studio Paris
“O lala!” – Emmanuel Macron is visibly impressed by the sight: Gustave Eiffel’s gray-blue iron staircase spanning five floors with 16,000 gold leaves has been originally restored. Many of the 1700 employees of the department store stand on the landing and applaud the president. He accepted Bernard Arnault’s invitation. The billionaire and boss of the luxury goods company LVMH owns the Samaritaine. He renovated the building complex for 750 million euros and is now attracting customers: “Perhaps you can also shop on the Internet. But there you can’t touch the products, you can’t see them, and you can’t have lunch in such a wonderful atmosphere.”
A water pump as namesake
In the Samaritaine, this is most spectacularly done in the “Voyage” restaurant under the historic glass dome, surrounded by a 115-meter-long peacock frieze in Art Nouveau style. But actually shopping is hip here, emphasizes Head of Marketing Nathalie Montaldier: “You are on the fourth floor – all women’s shoes, from sneakers to luxury. The special thing: when you try them on you have a fantastic view of the Gothic cathedral Saint-Germain-L’Auxerrois . A unique experience.” In 1870 Ernest Cognacq founded the Samaritaine. Before that he had sold fabrics on the bridge next door – the famous Pont Neuf -, then rented a corner café and expanded his business little by little. At that time the first Parisian water pump stood on the Pont Neuf, and it was called “la Samaritaine” – the Samaritan woman. The pump gave the store its name. Today, historical commercials flicker there on old TVs:
Monsieur wants something?
We dont have.
An alligator clip.
Neither clamp nor crocodile.
Haven’t you read the name of our store?
This is not the Samaritaine.
Ah, I see – you can find everything in the Samaritaine.
In the Parisian luxury department store you will find one thing above all: French “savoir vivre”. Image: Stefanie Markert / ARD-Studio Paris
A hymn to Paris
The house no longer lives up to this claim, says manager Eleonore de Boysson, but: “You can find all of Paris in the Samaritaine. Its brands and artists. It’s like a promenade with surprises. A visit should trigger a new Parisian feeling.” And convey the French way of life. The house bakes its own croissants, personalizes champagne bottles and sells cosmetics from collapsible crates that resemble those of the bouquinists in front of the door. Mosaics are reminiscent of the Parisian passages and yellow lanterns of the street lighting in the past. Parisian flair en passant.
Richest European The luxurious life of Monsieur Arnault
Bernard Arnault has created a luxury empire with LVMH. The French are known as the “wolf in cashmere fur”.
The luxury department store is a hymn to the city. It offers the largest beauty department in the European Union – 600 brands and products from three-euro hand gel to perfume in a giant crystal bottle for 150,000 euros. Up to five million customers are expected each year. Parisians, French and of course tourists. On the lower floor, the head of marketing points to a long rolling carpet like at the airport: “There was direct access from the parking lot to the department store. We have redesigned this tunnel. This is where the bus tourists will arrive.”
The complex includes a luxury hotel with a 1000 square meter suite. Even the smallest room there costs 1500 euros per night. But there is also a day nursery and almost 100 social housing. Samaritaine General Director Jean Jacques Guiony explains: “That is the law. When building, around 25 percent of the area has to be reserved for social housing. We were free to move it inside in the Rue de Rivoli building.” The tenants look out over a green, roofed courtyard with the department store’s wellness oasis. The Samaritaine is open 364 days a year. It is only closed on May 1st