© DFS Group

Paris has bounced back with a big bang, and that big bang has a name: Samaritaine. The former La Samaritaine department store, once one of the illustrious department stores in the City of Light, but had to close the doors of its flagship store in 2005. Situated on the Seine river opposite Pont Neuf, the landmark building with its ornate Art Nouveau façade, now aptly called the Pont Neuf building, was eventually snapped up by luxury behemoth LVMH Group, and is part of a collection of surrounding buildings which have either been restored and redeveloped or newly built for different purposes, including a five-star hotel, offices and housing. Mind you, we’re talking a total floor space of 70,000 sqm. (753,474 sq.ft.) of which no less than 20,000 metres is occupied by Samaritaine Paris Pont Neuf. Following the opening of the equally spectacular Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice five years ago, this is the second outpost of DFS Group, a Hong Kong-based travel retailer and LVMH affiliate.

A stunning glass roof an Eiffel-style iron frame and atrium, in addition to two new skylights, allow floods of daylight to permeate large parts of the building’s six expansive floors. The interior design, created by acclaimed Canadian practice Yabu Pushelberg, highlight the Eiffel structure while also bringing a warm and sophisticated style to all floors. The materials used are carefully selected, and quite interestingly, includes terrazzo as a nod to Parisian cobblestones. The agency also designed all furnishings and rugs which coordinate with the bronze and touches of emblematic grey-blue from the original decor. The Pont Neuf building presents men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, jewellery and beauty & cosmetics, and on the top floor sits Voyage, a restaurant and bar designed by French practice Wilmotte & Associés Architectes.

Needless to say, Samaritaine is brimming with trophies. Let’s start on the ground floor, shall we? The awe-inspiring atrium space is bag heaven, featuring designs from all the top luxury brands in branded sections, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Celine, to multi-brand spaces featuring offerings by smaller niche brands such as Jérôme Dreyfuss, Wandler and Isabel Marant. At the front near the entrance sits La boutique de Loulou, arguably the best assorted gift shop on the planet. As a pre-taster of the coveted bling on the watchmaking and jewellery on the second floor, the ground floor is also home to shop-in-shops by Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bvlgari, in addition to multi-brand sections. One floor up, a world of luxury womenswear unfolds, presenting creations by pretty much all the usual suspects, but coveted niche brands like sacai, Dries Van Noten and Alaïa can be found here.

The third floor is the men’s domain, and the offerings are equally elaborate, featuring apparel, shoes and accessories in just about any style by the likes of Maison Margiela, Balenciaga, Acne Studios, Thom Browne and many, many more. And finally, on the fourth floor, female shoppers can indulge in an avalanche of coveted shoes. And let’s not forget the expansive basement. At 3,200 sqm. (34,445 sq.ft.) it’s home to the largest beauty and cosmetics area in all of Europe. Designed by Hubert de Malherbe, it extends all the way to the new standalone building on rue Rivoli. Obviously, it also caters to the most jaded of shoppers, featuring counters by exclusive brands, including Dolce & Gabbana Beauty, Sulwhasoo, SK-II, Fragonard and Helena Rubinstein. Mind you, there’s even a dedicated area brimming with beauty products that feature responsible formulas or packaging, and Cinq Mondes, a full-fledged spa. Tokyo-based architecture practice SANAA took on the renovation of the Pont Neuf structure, but also built the latter structure which boasts a striking undulating glass façade.

However, the interior design of the ground and second floors has been supervised by yet another French architecture practice. The eclectic aesthetic of the so-called designers lab and streetwear section are courtesy of ciguë, and are another nod to the city and its architecture. Home to forward menswear and womenswear, brands such as JW Anderson, Nanushka, Sunnei, Marni, Juun.J, Ganni and Ambush can be found on the ground floor. One floor up, amidst a setting of rough walls with exposed studs and screws, brands like Etudes, The North Face and A.P.C. are presented, in addition to a BLACK Comme des Garçons section with a Rei Kawakubo-designed setting and SHINZO sneaker corner. For the most discerning of shoppers, L’Appartement, a plush Parisian-style room designed by atelieramo where one can select your trophies in full privacy while in a reclined position sipping bubbly, is readily available.

We already mentioned the top floor restaurant, but Samaritaine offers no less than ten eateries and and counters, each offering a different cuisine or delicacy. As an in-the-know retailer with a stellar outpost in what’s arguably the planet’s most dynamic fashion capital, DFS Group has concepted Samaritaine as a highly responsive flagship store which captures the city’s inimitable fashion and lifestyle spirit, and aims to reflect this in a myriad of things, from the interior design and merchandise, to pop-up stores and events. Currently, Galerie Perrotin, one of Paris‘ leading art galleries, set up a 200 sqm. (2,153 sq.ft.) pop-up store stocked with art books, limited editions by artists, but also T-shirts, goodies and decorative objects, and currently presenting original works by the likes of Takashi Murakami, Paola Pivi, Johan Creten or Daniel Arsham in the shop and its windows. Samaritaine Paris Pont Neuf officially opens its doors Wed – June 23, just in time for the tourist season and your next trip abroad.

Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf
9 rue de la Monnaie (St.-Honoré)
75001 Paris
Telephone: +33 1 88886000
Daily 10am-8pm

© DFS Group and SANAA / Photography: We Are Content(s), Matthieu Salvaing and Jared Chulski