Founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Louise Jaÿ, La Samaritaine evokes the Paris of the Second Empire, modernized by Baron Haussmann. The period marked the arrival of the first department stores. With clearly displayed, fixed prices, and the chance to wander through the store and try the clothes, La Samaritaine applied principles that shook the foundations of traditional retail. Its ideal location between the Louvre and Notre-Dame de Paris meant that the the department store rose to the rank of architectural monument as an example of the perfect blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
In January 2001, La Samaritaine joined the LVMH group before having to close for safety reasons. Today, La Samaritaine has new aspirations with a major renovation project led by Japanese architecture firm Sanaa. A hallmark of the new La Samaritaine, the diversity so dear to the founders of the store will be evident throughout the project: diversity of functions, architectural forms, and building initiatives, as well as social and intergenerational diversity. Several activities will be grouped together within the buildings spread across four main complexes between the Quai du Louvre and Rue de Rivoli. A department store and two medium retail stores, a restaurant, a 72-room hotel (Cheval Blanc), 96 apartments, a crèche, and offices will be ready to open their doors after nearly 30 months of work.
The renovation project is part of La Samaritaine's innovative environmental approach.