Photo: Stephane Sby Balmy

The Moodie Davitt Report recently launched a new column, ‘Better moments make the world smile’ in association with Mars Wrigley International Travel Retail. In this feature we cast the spotlight on memorable human moments from around the world of travel, aviation and travel retail.

The gradual opening up of the industry after many months of closure has not only kickstarted business again but has brought with it moments of great joy and colour. One of the most significant travel retail openings of the year to date was that of the historic Samaritaine building in Paris in June, anchored by the 20,000sq m department store Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf by DFS. In recent days that store marked its 150th anniversary (‘150 + 1’) in style after a year-long delay caused by the pandemic. The store, founded by husband and wife Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jaÿ in 1870, was closed for safety reasons in 2005 but was triumphantly reopened on 23 June by owner (since 2001) LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. To make up for lost time and ensure that this milestone birthday is one to remember, DFS (LVMH/Robert Miller) is hosting a calendar of events, gourmet exclusives, collaborations, pop-ups and performances lasting for two months, from 2 September to 31 October. We capture the joy of that celebration in some of the lovely moments in images and video on this page.

Click on the YouTube icon to watch King Kong’s unique shopping experience at La Samaritaine. The advertisement concludes with King Kong holding up a shopping bag that says ‘On trouve tout a la Samaritaine’ (‘We find everything at La Samaritaine’). Credit: La Maison de la Pub

A dramatic unveiling of the department store’s windows kicked off the festivities on 2 September. On the Rue de Rivoli side, the windows feature multicolored neon displays. On the Pont Neuf side, new light installations are part of an exclusive collaboration with Prada. Inside the store, the Prada Glow installation is an exclusive and interactive experience brought to life through light and colour. Each weekend, troupes of artists bring to life the spirit of Samaritaine’s famous advertisements of the past with a combination of burlesque acts from performers dressed as peacocks, town-criers, balloon-girls and majorettes. As with all good birthdays, this one comes with a cake. But no ordinary cake – for Samaritaine, the artist Elsa Muse has designed a towering cake modelled on an early animation device known as a zoetrope.

Photo: @We Are Contents

The cake slowly turns, telling the history of the store through sugar figurines representing its emblematic yellow shopping bags, spirited sales staff and even King Kong himself [in 1974, the famous giant gorilla scaled the store in an advertisement for La Samaritaine -Ed]. Topping the cake are figurines of the store’s founders Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jaÿ. Edible versions of the cake are offered to customers each Saturday at 4pm. The celebrations will also feature digitally, as art historian Margaux Brugvin will take over the store’s YouTube channel to highlight moments in the store’s history and discuss its artistic elements with contemporary artist Antonin Hako. Michelin-starred chefs, pâtissiers, mixologists, baristas and bakers have all come together to celebrate Samaritaine’s 150+1 birthday with an abundance of flavours. Matthias Giroud from the Voyage restaurant-bar and Jérémy Del Val from Maison Dalloyau together will unveil an original box set of cocktails and ‘haute couture pastry’ to delight the senses.

Matthias Giroud from the Voyage restaurant-bar and Jérémy Del Val (right) from Maison Dalloyau are offering a series of tasty temptations to celebrate the occasion

The quirky Loulou Boutique is featuring a range of iconic products from jewellery to fashion to bicycles and skateboards. And a wheel of fortune is being spun each day to reward shoppers with gifts and treasures to share in the bounty of Samaritaine’s birthday. DFS Group Chairman and CEO Benjamin Vuchot said: “La Samaritaine has brought joy, excitement and discovery to Parisians for over 150 years, so it is fitting that we celebrate this wonderful store’s birthday with the same abundance that she has shared with us. “We look forward to celebrating again when our customers around the world are able to visit Samaritaine in person.” *Look out for a special edition of The Moodie Davitt Spotlight eZine dedicated to Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf by DFS, out this month.

(Above and below) The quirky Loulou Boutique is featuring a range of products from jewellery to fashion to bicycles and skateboards as part of the birthday celebrations

Photo: Stephane Sby Balmy

*If you work in the travel retail industry and wish to nominate a moment or event for our new ‘Better moments make the world smile’ column please email Dermot Davitt at

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 300 | 16 September 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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