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Paris’s iconic department store la Samaritaine undergoes redevelopment

La Samaritaine, one of Paris’s iconic landmarks, is to be reborn following an ambitious makeover project. The famous department store, first opened in 1870, is situated between the Pont Neuf and the rue de Rivoli, close to the Louvre Museum. The 1st arrondissement (district) is the city’s luxury shop window, with some sought-after addresses.

The store’s Art Nouveau and Art Déco architecture has long been a must-see on the tourist trail. The buildings are classified as historic monuments. Known by Parisians affectionately as “la Sama”, the store was the biggest in Paris during its heyday.

Owned by luxury retailer LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, la Samaritaine was closed in 2005 following concerns about fire safety. Its long-awaited redevelopment started this year and will be completed by 2016 at an estimated cost of 450 million euros. The project is entirely financed by La Samaritaine, a subsidiary of LVMH.

The store has been extended and remodeled countless times over the years, much of it the work of architects Frantz Jourdain and Henri Sauvage. These makeovers were often at the cutting-edge of architectural design.

The current project – not without some controversy – intends to restore La Samaritaine to its former glory while adding a contemporary look to parts of the complex. A notable feature will be the construction of a recognizable “trademark” façade on the rue de Rivoli to complement its famous frontage on the Quai du Louvre.

Destined partly as a showcase for LVMH’s luxury brands, the 80,000 m2 complex will include other retail stores, office space, social housing and a day care center. La Samaritaine will also feature a five-star Cheval Blanc hotel with 72 rooms and suites.

Parisians and tourists alike will hail “la Sama’s” reincarnation, which will have a welcome impact on the Parisian economy.

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