Samaritaine makes haute cuisine accessible to everyone
What to eat at the most awaited address in Paris.
La Samaritaine, the new and magnificent luxury department store on Rivoli street, has finally reopened its doors after 16 years of work. The promise is that it will be one of the most frequented places for locals and travelers in the coming years.
But what about the food? Who are the hand-picked chefs and maisons responsible for the gastronomic excellence of this new icon of good taste and luxury in the French capital? Gastronomos will reveal it all to you now.
You will certainly love strolling down its majestic staircase and discovering its delicious gourmet options. La Samaritaine is without a doubt one of the addresses whose reopening is particularly eagerly awaited.
Closed in 2005 for a gigantic renovation that comprised its entire structure, the store was supposed to reopen in 2020. However, the health crisis led it to open its doors only in June 2021.
La Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf, as it is officially called, has more than 70,000 m2, 280 employees, and twelve gourmet spaces. With a clear objective, the restaurants, bars, and gourmet stores in the space are not there to add to the business figures: “Although the margins generated are obviously lower than with fashion or jewelry, we wanted to offer a complete and original experience, aimed at a wide audience, at any time of the day, in order to make it a gastronomic destination for everyday life as well as for exceptional events,” explains Éléonore de Boysson, President of DFS in Europe, the company responsible for the concept and management of La Samaritaine.
To appeal to the neighborhood’s residents, and more broadly, to Parisians and tourists, Éléonore de Boysson and her consultant Frédéric Loeb spent nine years working on complementary concepts that would speak to both a more chic, traditional clientele and to the millenials.
The entire 5th floor is dedicated to gastronomy, where the store’s largest restaurant is located: Voyage Samaritaine. The menu is currently signed by the Michelin 2-star chef Matthieu Viannay, but the idea is that there will be a new chef in residence every season.
On the ground floor is the Ernest, a new restaurant concept that mixes brasserie and boulangerie. At Ernest, the 1-star Michelin chef Naoëlle d’Hainaut is in charge of the pans and the ubiquitous Eric Kayser is in charge of the breads and viennoiseries. With an oven in the store’s basement, the concept bakery will open every day at 7am and will serve customers, employees and guests. Yes, of course, inside La Samaritaine there is also a luxury hotel, the Cheval Blanc Paris, with 72 rooms overlooking the Senna and the Eiffel Tower.
The Louis Vuitton group is counting on Arnaud Donckele, a three-Michelin-starred chef considered to be one of the greatest names of his generation, to lead the Cheval Blanc restaurant. Donckele will accumulate the kitchen management of Cheval Blanc Paris along with the Cheval Blanc Saint Tropez. Maxime Frédéric, a young patisserie chef on the rise of his career, who left the kitchen at Georges V to move to Rue Rivoli, will join Donckele as a pair.
The traditional caviar house, Prunier, has also created a new concept for its presence at La Samaritaine: Street Caviar – with sandwiches made on baguettes, the idea is to transform caviar into something accessible to everyone.
On the first floor, customers can enjoy a great coffee at the zinc kiosk amidst 50s decor, Brûlerie des Gobelins, or to take a shot of freshly squeezed ginger at the Source by Joie bar, which offers a tasty selection of vegan delicacies.
Sweets fans can be delighted in the new creations of the Maison Dalloyau, made especially for the opening of the store, or in the Sweet Corner, signed by Bogato, where the creative teams of Chef Anaïs Olmer will customize cookies and cakes to everyone’s taste, focusing especially on children.
La Samaritaine – A bit of history
The history of La Samaritaine begins in 1870 with Ernest Cognacq, who set up his small novelty store in a room next to a café. Quickly, success came and the store expanded. In 1900, Ernest Cognacq reigned over the department stores that occupied several blocks. La Samaritaine developed and evolved under the direction of its successive owners and reached its golden age in the 1960s.
After 1970, the store’s commercial success declined and its surface area was gradually reduced, the stores sold to companies and turned into offices, until in 2001 the LVMH group bought La Samaritaine.
Four years later, the store was closed to conform to safety regulations. This closure was supposed to be temporary, but the store has not reopened since. It was originally only supposed to last until 2015, and the reopening announcements have multiplied citing 2018 and then 2019. And although it is the smallest of the Parisian department stores, La Samaritaine has become a mammoth project.
The new La Samaritaine, designed to be a place to live
At a time when shopping temples tend to become true living spaces, La Samaritaine is no exception and is taking this concept even further. In addition to the department store, the complex includes 96 units of social housing entrusted to the Paris City Hall, a day care center for 80 children, and 15,000 m² of office spaces.
An eco-responsible project
The space of over 70,000 m², spread over 10 floors, brings an innovative environmental approach: La Samaritaine uses renewable energy and is air-conditioned using deep geothermal energy with ice storage techniques.
More than 800 new jobs have been created with the reopening of La Samaritaine so far and a total of 2,400 are expected to be hired. All positions have been offered on a priority basis to employees who were present in the store until 2005.