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The luxury group LVMH spares the surprise effect around the department store, which reopens on June 23. The opportunity, however, to rediscover the emblematic fresco from 1907, which has been completely restored.
That evening, in the television news of the big chains, tearful customers testified, trade unionists enraged, salesmen struggling to suppress their sobs. On June 15, 2005, the news of the closure for security reasons of La Samaritaine, the department store overlooking the Pont-Neuf, in Paris, resounded in the media. This, until the headset of Yves Calvi who devoted an hour on the air, in the program “C dans l’air”, on France 5, to this event, slipping to his guests the questions of the viewers received ” by Minitel ”…
Sixteen years later, the reopening of the vessel, in the age of social networks, should not be less resounding: finally scheduled for June 23, the inauguration should symbolize the resumption of strength of the French capital after months of apathy pandemic. What exactly will we see in the “Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf”, this immense resuscitated temple of consumption that spans 20,000 square meters?
Hard to say. LVMH, its owner since 2001, keen to maximize the surprise effect, prefers to keep a veil of mystery until the last hours. Bernard Arnault’s group specifies that there will be “a department store, a Cheval Blanc palace, 96 social housing units, a crèche and offices”.
Another certainty, one will find there the large fresco known as “of the peacocks”. This Art Nouveau masterpiece, installed under the glass roof, is attributed to Francis Jourdain, the son of Frantz Jourdain, the architect of the Samaritaine. The fresco alone embodies the aesthetic image that the building nourishes with the general public. “It is one of those original heritage elements that we absolutely wanted to preserve,” says Christian Reyne, architect in charge of real estate at LVMH.
The creation of the fresco dates back to 1907. At the time, the Samaritan woman already had decades of history behind her. Founded in 1870, the address has gradually attracted customers – especially women – with desirable merchandise of all types and constantly renewed. And ended up doubling the Bon Marché, the Printemps, but also the Department Stores of the Louvre, A la Belle Jardinière or Aux Trois Quartiers, all these competitors born before it, between the years 1820 and 1860, and many of which will be sources of inspiration for the pages of Pot-Bouille (1882) or Au Bonheur des Dames (1883) by Emile Zola… In 1907, the Samaritaine was able to establish itself as the first department store in Paris.
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