The first street I remember when I moved to Paris was Rue de Rivoli. The long avenue in the center of Paris is a beautiful sight to see. It crosses the city East and West along the river Seine and is the address to the Louvre Palace Museum, the Paris City Hall and also an Art Nouveau Art Deco architectural gem named the Samaritaine.
The Samaritaine… when I moved here 12 yrs ago, I distinctly remember appreciating the building from the outside. It was a condemned building, abandoned for so many years, until I started to see the huge scaffolding which meant something was happening. News later revealed the planning. I still remember seeing construction workers there on the side of the quai who told me a hotel was being built there. It was Paris growing. The city of Paris also required the refurbishing to also include housing for underprivileged Parisians and there are business offices too.
The opening was just last month after so many years of renovations by the Louis Vuitton group, and I saw many fashion bloggers reporting and stating all the dates and details of the history online, so I’ll spare time and just give my impression of this beauty and why it’s the latest new “must see” in Paris. It’s located facing the famous bridge Pont Neuf and across the street from the actual Louis Vuitton headquarters. Virgil Labloh, the men’s LV designer, has his design studio on the 6th floor, it’s a lovely building as well.
Founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Louise JaÿIt, it was originally built to house a market place, with many individual booths, but this market place was special of course because it’s in Paris and modernised by the Baron Haussmann who redesigned Paris. The Art Nouveau design and decoration that still fascinates today, is beautiful to look at. The top floor deco is covered in original yellow/gold like tile which resembles a royal French garden with peacocks wandering around on a sunny day,… so “Versailles”, or maybe inspired by the original “Tuileries”? The design is also eco friendly, mainly because its use of natural light which was a priority at that time in design, so Parisian as seen at the Grand Palais on Champs Elysées because Paris doesn’t have many sunny days. I often think I lack Vitamin D from the lack of sun since I moved here, oh well.
The South end of the Samaritaine is the original building occupied by all the big designer brands, Chanel. DIOR, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga, Cartier, etc but the property of the Samaritaine extends all the way back to Rue de Rivoli onto another building on the complex that was totally gutted out and remodelled. That side of the Samaritaine houses the smaller brands, they call it more “Street wear” like Off-White amongst others.
So on your next trip out to Paris, remember if you’re here for shopping, this is part of the New Parisian landscape, La Samaritaine will help you feel like you’re running around chic in Paris.
Written by Cindy Lucas