In Paris, La Samaritaine Is Ready for Its Selfie

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At just over 215,000 square feet, La Samaritaine may be officially the smallest department store in Paris, but it’s really the French capital’s largest concept store, a highly curated fashion and beauty emporium offset by an ever-evolving roster of arty pop-ups (currently the Galerie Perrotin), installations by young artists, events celebrating French craft and art de vivre, and a dozen eateries, among them an in-house bakery that opens at 7am, the brasserie Ernest, decorated by design star Constance Guisset; a Prunier “Street Caviar” counter (15 grams for €15), and a top-floor bar and lounge that stays open until the wee hours. Perhaps inevitably, pose-and-post moments greet the visitor at every turn (a workshop collaboration with Polaroid is also available, should you wish to finesse your technique).

The hilarious throwback King Kong photo op is one surefire hit: the tech-savvy update on a ’70s-era black and white commercial lets customers act out their best Fay Wray moment before being slipped into a shopping bag with the store’s famous slogan On trouve tout à La Samaritaine (You can find everything at La Samaritaine). Seconds later, video and photo land in your email, ready to be shared with the world.

It goes without saying that these days finding everything at La Samaritaine is beside the point: A generation ago, that kind of store migrated into the ether, paving the way for 21st-century experiential shopping that fuses entertainment, art, food, and crafts-led events. Come fall, with the opening of the much-anticipated, palace-level Cheval Blanc Paris hotel in the landmark Art Deco building overlooking the Seine, it’s quite possible that a certain kind of well-heeled, would-be Parisian may never feel the need to go anywhere else.

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