10 icons of contemporary architecture in Paris

Contemporary architecture rubs shoulders with the classical monuments of Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton, vue panoramique 3, Paris © Iwan Baan Eberle for Fondation Louis Vuitton - 2014

Paris is famous for the classical architecture of its façades and for its art deco constructions, but it is also home to many iconic examples of contemporary architecture.

In the west of Paris, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, inaugurated in 2014, organizes major exhibitions in the extraordinary building designed by the visionary architect Frank Gehry. Not far away, on the Esplanade de La Défense, La Grande Arche sits imposingly among the skyscrapers of the Paris region’s famous business district, and offers a spectacular rooftop view of the Champs Elysées. And from the Île Seguin, Boulogne-Billancourt is illuminated by the Seine Musicale, an outstanding music and performing arts centre.

In the centre of Paris, the Forum des Halles has had a major facelift. The exterior of the Parisian shopping centre is now crowned by a monumental canopystructure in a natural undulating shape. A stone’s throw away, the famous Centre Pompidou is another must-see example of modern architecture. This major Parisian art museum was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and also offers a panoramic view from its roof terrace. Near to the Eiffel tower, the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, dedicated to indigenous art and non-Western culture, was designed by Jean Nouvel and features an impressive vertical garden created by Patrick Blanc.

Philharmonie de Paris, public, Paris © William Beaucardet / Philharmonie de Paris

Jean Nouvel is also the creator of another emblematic example of contemporary architecture in Paris: the Philharmonie. A sanctum of classical music, benefiting from impeccable acoustics, the exterior of the building, with its covering of silvery birds in flight and its ‘hilltop’ roof terrace, which is open to the public, is as surprising as its interior. Further on, in the Parc de la Villette, passers-by are intrigued by an enormous sphere made up of triangular mirrors: this is the Géode, designed by architect Adrien Fainsilber and housing a cinema with a giant hemispheric screen.

In the south of Paris, the Cité de la Mode et du Design is immediately recognizable. Located on the left bank of the Seine, this audaciously renovated industrial building with its translucent bright green structure offers a spectacular view of the river. Another example of Renzo Piano’s architectural talent is the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, inaugurated in 2014. In the shape of a horn of plenty in the heart of the Gobelins district (13th arrondissement) it houses a film theatre and spaces for exhibitions related to films and the cinema.

Fondation Louis Vuitton Adhérent

8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris, 75016

The Fondation Louis Vuitton, situated in the Bois de Boulogne, a stone's throw from the Jardin d’Acclimatation, opened its doors......

Toit de la Grande Arche Adhérent

1 parvis de la Défense - En haut des marches de la Grande Arche, Puteaux, 92800

Opened on 14 July 1989, the two-hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution, the Grande Arche is the symbolic monument of the......

La Seine Musicale Adhérent

Concert hall
Ile Seguin, Boulogne-Billancourt, 92100

Situé à la pointe de l’île Seguin à Boulogne-Billancourt, ce complexe musical à vocation nationale et internationale dispose de......

Quartier des Halles

Street, area of interest
Les Halles, Paris, 75001

The district is named after the old market district of Paris, nicknamed the ‘belly of Paris’, which was subsequently transferred......

Centre Pompidou Adhérent

Place Georges Pompidou, Paris, 75004

The Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, is a 20th-century architectural marvel, immediately recognizable......

Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac Adhérent

37 quai Branly, Paris, 75007

Opened in June 2006, the Musée d'Arts et de Civilisations brings together the collections of the Musée National des Arts......

Philharmonie de Paris Adhérent

Concert hall
221 avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris, 75019

The Philharmonie de Paris is the new musical heart of the capital. The new building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Beside......

La Géode Adhérent

Parc de la Villette - 26 avenue Corentin Cariou, Paris, 75019

Located in the heart of the Parc de la Villette, the Géode is an exceptional cinema for so many reasons: the giant steel globe,......

La Cité de la Mode et du Design Adhérent

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
34 quai d'Austerlitz, Paris, 75013

The site is immediately recognizable by the ultra-contemporary, bright green structure on its exterior. It houses spaces......

Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé

73 avenue des Gobelins, Paris, 75013

The Fondation Jérome Seydoux-Pathé is an unusual building in the Gobelins district (13th arrondissement). Tucked away behind the......