Saturday, 19 March 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Au Grand Dam De Paris'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Au Grand Dam De Paris ~

IMG_5586, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

How the mighty have fallen. I was going to make this a quiz question and maybe I still will, as I'm not sure how many people who are interested in Paris posers actually make it to my ramblings here, but can you guess where it is? I mean what it is? Or used to be? One of the most glamorous of the Paris department stores. A true monument. A uniquely beautiful city landmark. Possessor of a gloriously panoramic, lesser-known and free view from the roof...

You've probably got it now. La Samaritaine, that proud bastion of the moyen-bourgoisie (not quite as posh as Galeries Lafayettes, Printemps or LBM I always felt) and folks like me who bought our art supplies there from time to time at inflated prices before we knew any better.

It was opened in 1869, just a year before the fall of Napoleon III and the horrors of La Commune de Paris (erm, oops!), and had been losing money since the 1970s. But it was still a shock for the whole of Paris, and especially its employees, when it closed suddenly in 2005 on the pretext that it didn't meet safety standards.

The plans are to reopen it in the rapidly approaching 2013, as a mixture of offices, boutiques, hotels and subsidised housing, although wrangles between the owners LVMH and the store's founders aren't moving things on any faster.

In the meantime it's rapidly becoming a photo-op for all the wrong reasons, not to say an eyesore, right next to Pont Neuf, which is a shame as this venerable lady surely deserves better than this.

Things will change though, no doubt, so if you do want to immortalise a piece of classic Paris from the last gasps of the Second Empire before who knows what horrendous transformations are imposed, grab your grimiest lens and take a walk along Quai du Louvre from Ile de la Cité and say 'Hi' to the grand old dame on the right for me.

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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