OPEN DOORS: It turns out the reopening of La Samaritaine remains a moving target.
Having announced that the Right Bank department store would open its doors on June 19, following a 750-million-euro refurbishment, luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said on Tuesday the reopening would finally take place on June 22 or 23, due to internal scheduling conflicts.
This means the store’s opening will now coincide with Paris Fashion Week for men’s wear, scheduled to run from June 22 to 27.
The mixed-use site was originally due to bow in April 2020, but the opening was delayed as France implemented several lockdowns in a bid to curb the coronavirus pandemic. The country began to lift restrictions on May 19 and will allow indoor dining from June 9, meaning customers can enjoy the restaurants inside the store.
LVMH has not yet set an opening date for the adjoining Cheval Blanc hotel, which will be the first urban outpost for the exclusive chain known for resort locations like Courchevel and St. Barths. There will also be offices, low-income housing and a day care center.
The revival of the Samaritaine complex, which serves as a link between the Left Bank of Paris and the recently refurbished shopping center Les Halles, comes amid a period of urban renewal in the center of Paris, with projects including the Pinault family’s Bourse de Commerce contemporary art museum, which opened earlier this month.
Politically charged from the outset — the store’s closure in 2005 angered employees and longtime patrons — the project encountered resistance from local authorities at various stages and plans for a modern, wavy glass exterior sparked lengthy debates about how much change should be allowed in the city’s historic center.
It also harbored technical challenges, and there were often tensions between safety concerns and interest in preserving the historical building, including elaborate Art Nouveau iron-work running down five flights of stairs and a gold-hued peacock mural on the top floor.