The golden mosaic façade makes the quays of the Seine sparkle while the wrought iron canopy illuminates the majestic staircase of the atrium. It is hard to imagine that the Samaritaine was born in 1870 from a simple shop on the corner of rue de la Monnaie, facing the Pont-Neuf. However, Ernest Cognacq immediately saw its geographical advantage. Accompanied by his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ, he began his rise by acquiring the adjoining stores, before building a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture in 1910, designed by Frantz Jourdain. Soon, the establishment with its organic ornamentation and delicate ironwork was joined by a second equally spectacular building. This new store, designed in 1928 by architect Henri Sauvage, marked the arrival of the Art Deco movement. These two architectural feats affirm the ambition of this avant-garde couple, who sought to compete with the Parisian department stores of the time. The inhabitants of the neighborhood ran to the Samaritaine to find the latest dresses, stroll between the fabric stalls or simply to be seen.
However, the store’s influence was about to wane. In 2005, the Samaritaine closed its doors with the aim of rehabilitating its almost century-old structure. The LVMH group’s project was ambitious: to restore the two listed buildings and add a bold extension to give the department store a contemporary dimension. Nearly sixteen years later, the store has regained its former glory.