The so-called “peacocks” fresco, a brilliant blow to the Samaritan woman

That evening, in the televised news of the big chains, tearful customers testified, trade unionists enraged, salesmen struggling to suppress their sobs. On June 15, 2005, the announcement of the closure for security reasons of the Samaritaine, the department store overlooking the Pont-Neuf, in Paris, resonated in the media. This, until the headset of Yves Calvi who devoted an hour on the air, in the program “C dans l’air”, on France 5, at this event, slipping viewers’ questions received to its guests “By Minitel” …

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Sixteen years later, the reopening of the vessel, in the age of social networks, should not be less resounding: finally scheduled for June 23, the inauguration should symbolize the resumption of vigor in the French capital after months of apathy. pandemic. What exactly will we see in the “Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf”, this immense temple of resuscitated consumption which extends over 20,000 square meters?

First department store in Paris

Hard to say. LVMH, its owner since 2001, anxious to maximize the effect of surprise, prefers to keep, until the last hours, a veil of mystery. Bernard Arnault’s group specifies that there will be “a department store, a Cheval Blanc palace, 96 social housing units, a crèche and offices”.

Another certainty, one will find there the large fresco known as “of the peacocks”. This Art Nouveau masterpiece, installed under the glass roof, is attributed to Francis Jourdain, the son of Frantz Jourdain, the architect of the Samaritaine. The fresco alone embodies the aesthetic image that the building nourishes with the general public. “It is one of those original heritage elements that we absolutely wanted to preserve”, says Christian Reyne, architect in charge of real estate at LVMH.

The creation of the fresco dates back to 1907. At the time, the Samaritan woman already had decades of history behind her. Founded in 1870, the address has gradually attracted customers – especially women – with desirable goods of all types and constantly renewed. And ended up doubling the Bon Marché, the Printemps, but also the Department Stores of the Louvre, A la Belle Jardinière or Aux Trois Quartiers, all these competitors born before it, between the years 1820 and 1860, and many of which will be sources of ‘inspiration for the pages of Pot-Bouille (1882) orTo the happiness of the ladies (1883) by Emile Zola… In 1907, here is the Samaritaine capable of establishing itself as the first department store in Paris.

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