Musée Cognacq-Jay

Marie-Louise Jay


Musée Cognacq-Jay


This stunning collection of the Samaritaine Department store founder, Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, located in the Marais is not to be missed.


As you make your way through the magnificent twenty wood panelled rooms spread out over four floors in the Hôtel Donon you will discover elegantly decorated rooms giving an insight as to how high society lived in the early 1920’s in Paris.

Fragonard - Musee Cognacq-Jay Paris



The very fine art collection includes works by artists such as Fragonard, Boucher, Rubens, Rembrandt, Cézanne and Degas, only to name a few.

To realise that the art on display was once a private collection is almost difficult to fathom.



Chandeliers hang from ceilings, elaborate clocks adorn mirrored back mantel pieces, inlaid occasional tables are casually dotted around, sculptures flank doorways, and cabinets display an exquisite jewellery collection.

All in all, Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jay’s artefacts sum up to around 1200 pieces.



Upon his death, Ernest Cognacq bequeathed their collection to the city of Paris.

Ernest Cognacq’s beginnings were humble.  He set up shop under an umbrella on the Pont Neuf where he sold ties.  Later, after meeting his wife his business grew.  They opened a small boutique and afterwards, the grand shopping centre and department store, Le Grand Magasins de la Le Samaritaine.


Le Samaritaine once offered outstanding and free 360° views of Paris from it’s rooftop.

Unfortunately it has since closed down and in 2001 LVMH added it to their collection of designer brands.

LVMH own brands such as Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior, DKNY, Louis Vuitton, Dom Pérignon, Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Fendi, Loewe, Givenchy, the list goes on, including Monsieur Cognacq’s rival at the time; Le Bon Marché department store.


Under a cloud of controversy and a number of false starts, the redevelopment has begun and by 2017, Le Samaritaine will become a high end shopping centre, hotel and apartments.

One can only hope that they will be sympathetic with the magnificent and iconic facade.

At least their art collection is safe at the Musée Cognacq-Jay.

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Paris Adèle’s Information Nécessaire:

Musée Cognacq-Jay – Official Website
8 rue, Elzévir
Paris 75003
Opening Times :
Tuesday – Sunday
10am – 5.40pm
Closed Mondays & Public Holidays

Admission :


Nearest Metro :

St-Paul, Chemin Vert or Rambuteau


Your visit to Musée Cognacq-Jay could be combined with a visit to nearby Maison Victor Hugo, which is also free.

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