The eclecticism of the Second Empire

In the 19th century, Baron Haussmann transforms Paris with the creation of wide avenues

Toits de Paris, l'Opéra Garnier | ©Thinkstock

The spirit of the Renaissance and of Classicism were relooked in terms of the tastes of the day. The extension of the Louvre and above all the Opera, built by Charles Garnier from 1861, are the most complete examples and the most monumental ones of this combined development of styles where ornamentation has pride of place, and which can also be found in thousands of what is known as “Haussmanian” buildings.

From the start of Napoleon III’s reign in 1852, the prefect Haussmann cut immense and dead-straight arteries through Paris, such as the Avenue de l’Opéra or the Boulevard de Sébastopol, to ease traffic and discourage barricades. He had these great axes edged with wealthy and comfortable residential buildings of five or six floors. At the same time was seen the development of metal architecture, well represented by the “pavillons” at Les Halles, and the church of Saint Augustin, both achieved by Baltard, or yet again in the example of the Gare du Nord train station.