A little romantic getaway in a museum? Come and discover the Cognacq-Jay museum...

Did you know the name of the founder of the famous department store La Samaritaine, located between the rue de Rivoli and the Seine, just above the Pont-Neuf? It is Mr Ernest Cognacq!

Ernest Cognacq is an example of social climbing and professional success. Indeed, at first he had some difficulties to enter some Parisian department stores. Then, in 1871, he became the owner of his own store (La Samaritaine) in collaboration with his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ. This department store underwent a real expansion with a turnover that continued to swell year after year, exceeding one billion in 1925. Other store extensions were opened over the years. The architecture of these stores is also very innovative with an Art Nouveau or Art Deco style (metal structure, mosaic...).

But if Mr. Cognacq is also known, it is also for his rich collection of works dating from the eighteenth century!

Between 1900 and 1927, Ernest Cognacq acquired and collected works from the time of the Enlightenment.  In 1928, when he died, he bequeathed his collections to the City of Paris, which were then brought together in a museum (called Musée Cognacq-Jay, the last names of the couple who do everything together). The museum is thus a privileged meeting place for the spirit of the French 18th century as it was conceived in the Cognacq era: a century in which socializing, exchanges and the art of living were at the heart of individual development. At the beginning of the 20th century, when Ernest Cognacq decided to acquire these works, 18th century art was a reference in terms of bourgeois interior decoration.


Mr. Cognacq intended to place part of his collection in a completely different location: a building next to the Samaritaine de Luxe. The Samaritaine de Luxe, an annex of the department store located on the Boulevard des Capucines, hosted and exhibited temporary presentations of its own collections. It sold high-end products intended for the interiors of the Parisian bourgeoisie.

For his project, he was inspired by the Carnavalet Museum, where the woodwork highlights the works of art, and thus becomes a showcase for them.

This museum looks more like the Carnavalet Museum than the famous museums of the capital as we know them: The Louvre, Orsay... The objective of this museum-hotel is not to put us in full sight with large paintings etc., but rather to immerse us in the atmosphere of the 18th century and the artistic decor of French life. We are close to the works, in a bubble of intimacy.

The works we recommend you not to miss: Diana's Return from the Hunt (1745) where nymphs are depicted; or the majestic Lit à la polonaise (1785) where we just want to jump in!

If you are looking for an original activity, that you are not used to do together, we recommend the drawing initiation workshop (3 hours) and the oil painting initiation workshop (9 hours divided into 3 sessions) where you will discover the portrait and still life techniques!