The first few times I visited Paris was with my mom. She knows the city very well and would take us to all the tourist places as well as one of her favourites, La Samaritaine department store. The landmark art deco building owned by LVMH sits on Rue de Rivoli and overlooks the river Seine. In 2005 the buildings doors were shut as it no longer met to meet safety standards and after lengthy renovations was meant to reopen in 2013. I pass this building often and always admire it’s beautiful architecture – especially the art deco signage in black and gold, I imagine the generations of women passing through it’s doors since it’s opening in 1869 and I’ve been exciting at the prospect it’s new chapter and story… it’s just taking a mighty long time!
The renovation is fully funded by LVMH boss Bernard Arnaud (France’s wealthiest man), his plan is to transform the space into luxury complex comprising of upmarket stores, a luxe hotel, office space as well as duty-free stores appealing to the Chinese consumer visiting Paris. However this week, more bureaucracy has put a halt to the 470-million Euro makeover. In May last year two Parisian associations (The Society for the Protection of Landscape and Aesthetics of France(SPPEF) and SOS Paris) went to court claiming that the facade proposed by Japanese architects Sanaa didn’t fit the aesthetics of surrounding buildings. The court’s final ruling this week is in favour of revoking the permit to renovate a portion of the 145-year-old building.
So now we wait a little longer, as La Samaritaine will appeal to the Council of State which is France’s highest administrative court, to walk though the doors of this historic Grande Dame. Sigh…
Images courtesy of project.samaritaine.com – read more on the project