Paris (F) – Sixteen years after its closure, the Samaritaine reopens

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Closed since 2005, the store, owned by LVMH, reopened its doors on June 19, bringing together under its glass roof a department store, a luxury hotel, offices, social housing and a nursery.

This photo taken in November 2019 shows an interior view of the former Samaritaine shopping center. The colossal site will have cost 750 million euros.

AFP

Closed in 2005 for safety reasons related to its dilapidation, the famous store on rue de Rivoli in Paris was to reopen in 2020 for its 150th anniversary. The pandemic was only an additional twist on the path strewn with pitfalls that this project led by LVMH, majority shareholder of La Samaritaine since 2001, has experienced.

After its closure in 2005, the LVMH group decided to initiate restoration work on the building located along the Seine near the Pont Neuf, right in the center of the capital, but it would have to wait until 2015 to see its license definitively validated. to build. Between 2012 and 2015, the work was suspended by a series of appeals from heritage preservation associations contesting in particular the creation of an all-glass facade, on the rue de Rivoli side.

“It took five years to convince the mayor of Paris, five years to obtain the permit and five years of colossal work. We didn’t think it would last fifteen years, but it was worth it ”, underlined in 2019 Jean-Jacques Guiony, financial director of LVMH and CEO of the iconic department store born in 1870 in the heart of Paris.

Due to the pandemic, we had to wait another year before the opening of the 20,000 m² store (compared to some 30,000 m² when it closed), initially scheduled for 2020, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary from La Samaritaine.

“Magnified” spaces

The building also houses a five-star Cheval Blanc hotel (brand owned by LVMH) with 72 rooms with a plunging view of the Seine, the reopening date of which has not been communicated and which will notably offer a 1000 m² suite with a private swimming pool on the eighth floor. floor. The establishment will also include four restaurants, including a gourmet one run by Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Donckele, named chef of the year by Gault and Millau in its 2020 edition. The project includes 15,000 m² of offices, a neighborhood nursery in 80 beds and 97 social housing units managed by France Habitat.

Jewels of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the four buildings – including one listed as a historic monument – have undergone a major restructuring which also had to respect and enhance the period elements: mosaics, enamels, glass roofs or even guard. wrought iron body. The spaces were “magnified by the Sanaa cabinet but also Hubert de Malherbe, Ciguë or Yabu Pushelberg,” said a statement from LVMH sent to AFP.

In 2005, when it closed – for work originally supposed to last six years – La Samaritaine employed 734 people, almost all of whom were reclassified or benefited from measures provided for by the Employment Protection Plan ( PSE). When announcing the reopening in 2019, LVMH had indicated that “in total, more than 1,500 jobs will be created”, including 800 for the department store, and that “with the offices, more than 2,400 direct jobs will be made permanent. on the site”.

(AFP)

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