|View from roof of La Samaritaine|
At the time I was working in Paris, moving mainframe computers around the world. One of the transport companies I employed played a local radio station - Cherie FM - on their telephone system whilst callers waited for an internal connection. A company I used in the UK who operated a similar system abandoned it when they realised that a competitor was advertising on the radio station they were playing to callers. Towards the end of 1991 I kept hearing part of a song which I rather liked but was unable to identify either the title or artist. So one Saturday I took myself off to La Samaritaine and tackled the maze or stairs and aisles eventually emerging into the music department in the basement.
Here I sang to an assistant the snatch I could remember of the song . He was able to identify the tune as Un Homme Hereux by William Sheller. Having reinforced the assistant's belief that all the English are mad I purchased the cassette and departed happy. Regular readers will no doubt have heard this story before as I recounted it on BBC Three Counties Radio on My De sert Island Disc a few years ago.
|Inside the main building of La Samaritaine|
La Samaritaine was founded as a result of two factors. During the 19th century the French government passed a law which permitted anyone to sell items which they had not manufactured themselves. Coupled with the industrial revolution this presented the ideal commercial environment for such a venture. The business started in the back room of Cafe de la Samaritaine on the site were the glorious Magasin No1 was built in 1910.
Often referred to as the Jourdain Building after its architect, the four-story metal structure is laid out on a central hall surrounded by superimposed open galleries, then accessed by a cast iron grand staircase and topped by a glass roof adorned with a carved and painted frieze.
Francis Jourdain, the son of the architect, designed the stunning Art Nouveau facade overlooking the Rue de la Monnaie.
The painter Eugène Grasser designed the iconic Samaritaine logo.
|Art Nouveau facade of Magasin no1|
The facade, originally painted bright blue, has turned a darker shade of green over the decades.
It is adorned with an elaborate decor consisting of metal volutes, mullion windows and arches, polished and enameled lava panels adorned with floral mosaics and inscriptions.
|Magasin no2 showing Art Deco and Art Noureau styles|
Magasin no 2 was enlarged in the 1920s and decorated in the Art Deco style. The solid and square stone facade is framed with woodwork painted in a bronze colour and is adorned with balconies and canopies.
Entirely free of any mosaic, I think it is a splendid illustration Art Deco.
|Detail of the Art Deco facade|
Two more buildings were acquired with the profits from supplying army uniforms for the Franco-Prussian war and Magasin no 3 & 4 were both enlarged and modernised during the 20th century.
|LVMH impression of rue de Rivoli redevolpment|
And now the Paris prefecteure has approved the redevelopment of Magasin 1 and 2 and the demolition of the later buildings which front rue de Rivoli. This building, with its wavy glass facade, has been dubbed the shower curtain by its detractors.
Detail from the Art Nouveau facde
|For this, and many other photographs, I thank TravelFranceOnline|