Famous five

– La Samaritaine’s outstanding architectural elements

Design features including enamelled lava and an Art Nouveau masterpiece combine to make this extraordinary store a French national treasure.

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Samaritaine boasts five essential architectural elements, ranging from enamelled lava on the Art Nouveau building to the new building’s technical prowess.

The glass roof and its Eiffel structure

Supported by a highly visual metal frame, this spectacular architectural element (pictured above) from 1907 required particular care in its restoration.

After being modified, the rectangular 37m x 20m glazed roof regains its original shape and colours chosen by Belgium-born architect Frantz Jourdain. The only modern concession is electrochromic glass which tints according to brightness.

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The peacock fresco

The painting surrounding the glass roof is considered one of the masterpieces of Art Nouveau. The work is signed by Frantz Jourdain’s son, Francis, a French painter, interior designer and activist.

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Waves of glass

As the new face of Samaritaine, the SANAA-designed, Rivoli-side building, embodies the modernity, fluidity and poetry of the department store. Finely executed, the façade takes on a vibrant, irregular wavy shape.

Its 343 screen-printed glass panels, measuring 2.7m x 3.5m and weighing 600kg to 1,250kg, are designed to give the appearance of being perfectly balanced.

The Art Nouveau façade

At the beginning of the 20th century, French architect Frantz Jourdain, a lover of modernism, used a metal framework in the shop to save space and light.

To soften the structure and to attract customers, enamelled Volvic lava decorations were designed by his son Francis, along with poster designer, Eugène Grasset.

During the department store’s renovation, 675m of the decorations were renovated and 42sq m restored according to iconographic archives.

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The Grand Staircase

Both functional and aesthetic, this central feature of the Pont-Neuf building is regarded as one of the emblems of Samaritaine’s history.

To restore the grandeur of this legendary staircase, the railing has been renovated, with particular care given to its 16,000 gold leaves, the Art Nouveau ceramic work under the landings, as well as the 270 original oak steps.

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Opening of Samaritaine rue du Pont-Neuf which, just five years later, exceeds one million francs in turnover


The “Samar,” as Parisians call it, is a success and now maintains an Art Nouveau building by Frantz Jourdain and an Art Deco structure by Henri Sauvage.


LVMH acquires 55% of Samaritaine, to be followed in 2010 by full control.


The store closes for safety reasons.


Renovation work begins for the entire site.


Reopening of Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf under the leadership of DFS.

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