Vinci completes “titanic” renovation of La Samaritaine complex in Paris

The famous La Samaritaine department store complex opens to the Paris public today after what owner LVMH group described as a "titanic", six-year renovation led by Petit, a Vinci Construction France subsidiary.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attended Monday’s ceremony marking the hand-over of the transformed landmark established in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq.

Some 3,000 people and 280 French companies took part in restoring and renovating 70,000 sq m of space at the complex since 2015.

The project encompassed stores two and four, located between the river Seine and rue de Rivoli, in Paris’ 1st arrondissement.

It involved a full revamp, and the complex now houses the La Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf department store (almost 30,000 sq m), 96 social housing units (6,350 sq m), a crèche for 80 children (1,100 sq m), offices (16,000 sq m) and a 72-room Cheval Blanc hotel (14,500 sq m).

The department store has been entirely restructured, with historic and heritage features, including the glass roof, monumental staircase and peacock painting, refurbished to match the original décor.

LVMH, parent of luxury brands such as Christian Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, said that at peak some 800 craftspeople were working on site, including painters, sculptors, gilders, ironworkers and more.

Heritage features including the glass roof were refurbished to match the original décor (Photograph by Michael Tubiana, Courtesy of Vinci)

Giving the Rivoli block a modern flourish on the corner of rue de Rivoli and rue de la Monnaie, Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Sanaa created a three-layer transparent façade, consisting of a wavy exterior layer, a flat silk-screened layer and a thermal insulating layer.

A new glass roof, known as an "ombrelle", allows daylight to flood the patio and provide natural light in the retail areas in the basement.  

In the centre, the historic Art Nouveau building designed by architect Frantz Jourdain now includes social housing units meeting the targets of Paris’ Climate Plan, with primary energy consumption lower than or equal to 80kWh/sqm/year, said Vinci. 

On the Seine side, there is now the Cheval Blanc Paris hotel in the Art Deco building originally created by architect Henri Sauvage. The hotel was designed by architectural firm Maison Édouard François.

The full conversion entailed creating 12 lifts and staircases. The meticulous work to restore the façade by the river involved integrating openings with sections that provide outstanding thermal and acoustical properties for the indoor areas.

The two restaurants on the seventh floor have terraces overlooking the Seine and a garden terrace skirting La Samaritaine’s glass roof to the north. A spa with a 30-metre-long swimming pool and a fitness centre have been built in the first basement.

"The renaissance of the Samaritaine is a collective success that has mobilized some 3,000 people," stated Jean-Jacques Guiony, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Samaritaine. "We also feel great pride in restoring access to a historical monument that has always been at the forefront of its times and holds a special place in the hearts of Parisians."

Top image: French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attended Monday’s ceremony marking the hand-over of the transformed landmark (Courtesy of LVMH)

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