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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Paris offers an amazing variety of cultural programmes –  events, performances and exhibitions all around the city. After you’ve immersed yourself in the different art forms, let’s take a break and indulge in a shopping spree – La Samaritaine, which reopened last year offers a gorgeous venue for this.

Paris is not lacking in special places to shop, let it be small and hidden gems all around town, big and world-famous department stores or the very specifically styled ‘too-cool-for-school’ places like the now closed down Colette (which even had its own documentary film about its 20 years’ of existence). 

Where to shop

Since last June, there is a well established old-new player on the scene, La Samaritaine. ’La Samar’ reopened its historic building in June 2021 after 16 years of renovations. Owned by the LVMH group, the building houses, alongside the department store, a hotel (see more below) and restaurants. I love comprehensively executed contemporary buildings but I have a soft spot for the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras. The new store beautifully combines these by restoring the Art Nouveau building (now called Pont-Neuf) with a very visual metal frame and facades and creating a new structure whose waving glass façade (Rivoli side) weaves a real dialogue between the past and the present. The Japanese architectural agency Sanaa was responsible for making this connection really fluid and genuine. 

The department store was founded by Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ in 1870. The name comes from the second arch of the Pont-Neuf, formerly the location of the ‘Samaritaine’ hydraulic pump (destroyed in 1813). In 1910, the Art Nouveau building by Frantz Jourdain was inaugurated. With ambitious volumes, metal structure and elaborate ornamentation it was a masterpiece of its style. 1928 saw the addition of an Art Deco building designed by Henri Sauvage. The architectural feats and the grandiosity reflected the couple’s ambitious goals. They ended up not only creating one of the greatest department stores in Paris, but also becoming one of the wealthiest couples in France. (You can also visit the museum in Paris, dedicated to their art collection acquired between 1900 and 1927).

Great interior designers have left their mark on different spaces of the store – Yabu Pushelberg the Canadian design studio constructed the floors of the Pont-Neuf building outside the beauty floor; which was the creation of French designer Hubert de Malherbe; ciguë – known for concept between architecture, design and installation – has imagined the urban spaces of the Rivoli building while the Atelieramo collective designed the spaces of the Apartment and the two private lounges dedicated to jewellery. 

The store offers a great variety for even the most picky shopaholics – luxury and very high-end mixed with emerging designers, more accessible clothing and accessory brands, urban fashion brands, a floor (the second) completely dedicated to jewellery and watchmaking and the largest beauty space in Europe sprawling across 3400 sqm with the best beauty products and with a makeup bar and a spa. I won’t even try to include the brand names, you can browse them through here

Of course ‘la Samar’ invites you to enjoy some culinary delicacies too: a music and champagne/food pairing experience at the Krug Studio, salads at the Maison Dalloyau, fresh bread and croissants at Ernest in the bakery section, international fine dining at the Voyage or haute-pâtisserie for sophisticated sweet-tooths at Pâtisserie Dalloyau. 

Pâtisserie l'Exclusive By Dalloyau, photo: La Samaritaine
Voyage restaurant, photo: La Samaritaine

La Samaritaine is already a ‘place to be’ but this summer (until 30 August) they brought us a chic taster of the South of France vacation vibes. Pop-up stores, installations and limited edition creations are there to put you in a sunny mood. Discover the programme here

Summer in La Samaritaine, photo: La Samaritaine

Where to stay

The LVMH Group wasn’t idle in the past few years – beside the before mentioned La Samaritaine complex, last September they opened their first five-star accommodation just around the corner of the department store, the Cheval Blanc hotel. Named after an LVMH-owned vineyard in France, the hotel group has locations in Courchevel, St Tropez, Randheli, St-Barth Isle de France and now, Paris. Remodelled by architect Edouard François, the listed building’s décor was reimagined by architect Peter Marino in the style of a Parisian residence, with the help of exceptionally skilled artists and craftsmen. It has 72 accommodations — 26 rooms, 46 suites — and 4 restaurants. A brasserie Le Tout-Paris, the Langosteria with Italian cuisine, the Limbar as an upscale bistro and the Plénitude, offering the finest French cuisine with Chef Arnaud Donckele

Before (or after) the epicurean pleasures you can enjoy an all-sensory experience not only with the fragrant bath products designed by Dior perfumer François Demachy (former in-house perfumer of Dior) but you can let yourself be pampered in one of the Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris’ 6 treatment rooms with bespoke rituals. 

To celebrate the upcoming Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, Dior and Cheval Blanc Paris have created a unique experience – a boat as a floating Dior spa on the river Seine. The exclusive cruise runs 29 June – 3 July, 2022. 

Still not enough? Margaux Médeau, the Head Concierge of Cheval Blanc shares some real Parisian secrets for discovering the city here or head to our article to see our subjective selection of summer exhibitions in Paris. 

Photo credits: La Samaritaine, Cheval Blanc, Loupiosity.com.
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