Paris, a museum city? Yes, but a museum that is full of life!
Although the capital’s heritage, as in the Louvre or the Palais Royal, has given it a worldwide reputation, Paris has a real taste for modernity. This began in the middle of the 19th century with the architectural vision of the celebrated Baron Haussmann. He re-laid out 60% of the French capital by creating wide avenues lined with the buildings that we are familiar with today. Subsequently, audacious building projects began to appear in Paris, starting of course with the Eiffel Tower (1889).
At the time, the building caused a huge scandal. This penchant for daring architecture also marked the Paris of the 20th century of which the Maison de la radio (1963), the centre Pompidou (Piano and Rogers, 1977) and the Institut du Monde Arabe (Architecture-Studio and Jean Nouvel, 1987) are some fine examples. In 1989, the inauguration of the Pyramide du Louvre, by Pei, created controversy. Located right in the middle of the Cour Napoléon, this glass building nevertheless marvellously illustrates how historic heritage and audacious architecture can move the city into the future.
As well as these architectural projects, entire districts have been transformed, like for example Beaugrenelle and Les Halles, or La Défense. The latter, the biggest business district in Europe, also comprises a remarkable collection of architecture. Famous architects such as Portzamparc, Vallode, Pei Cobb or Freed&Partners are designing high rise buildings and in doing so are putting their signatures on Greater Paris.
The incessant quest for modernity
At the turn of the 20th century, major architectural projects also took place in Paris: in the 13th arrondissement, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Dominique Perrault, 1994) set the scene for a new neighbourhood by the Seine.
Culture is a fantastic lever for reinventing the city and giving a new lift to its image. The latest examples to date: the transformation of the Seine docks into the Cité de la mode et du design (Jakob & MacFarlane) and the building of the fondation Louis Vuitton (Frank Gehry, 2014) in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne.
La Philharmonie de Paris
As an extension to the Cité de la Musique in the Parc de la Villette, the architect Jean Nouvel has designed the Philharmonie de Paris.
This complex within the heart of the park is entirely devoted to musical performance and has outstanding acoustics.
More info on the Philharmonie de Paris
La fondation Louis Vuitton
The Foundation for the Maison Louis Vuitton necessitated a vast building site and 12-years work, but the result was worth it.
Californian architect Frank Gehry designed this monumental light and airy building in glass, wood and steel to house the collections of the Foundation.
More info on the Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Grande Bibliothèque district
It was almost a 21st arrondissement that Dominique Perrault heralded when he imagined the new French library in the heart of an urban fabric that would also extend along the other side of the Seine, thanks to the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge (Feichtinger, 2006) and over the covered Austerlitz rail tracks.
More info on the Bibliothèque nationale de France - Site François Mitterand
Situated at the western extremity of the historic axis of Paris, drawn up by Baron Haussmann, the district of La Défense is visible from afar thanks to its concentration of high-rise buildings that give this skyline to the west of Paris, a Parisian-style Manhattan look. And development continues!
More info on La Défense
The concrete architecture of this former storage area is today an important landmark on the capital’s cultural scene. Plus, it has been given a new lease of life thanks to a new green look created for it by Jakob MacFarlane.
More info on Les Docks
Guided tours of Paris from an architectural point of view
Guides specialized in architecture and urban planning offer walks through the streets of Paris to see its most impressive and unusual monuments.
With Association AimerParis, with an architect involved in the city’s major cultural building projects as your guide, you can learn to understand the major works of Parisian heritage. Plus: tours of interiors and construction sites, meetings with architects and designers, information on current architectural design and construction … everything you need to really understand the classic and more contemporary creations in Paris! Tours available in French, German and English.
GA Paris offers tours and walks for groups of 6 or more people on themes or districts such as major works of contemporary architecture in the city centre, New Urbanism in the Bibliothèque Nationale area, La Défense, the Champs-Elysées or Le Corbusier’s designs in Paris.These walking tours are led in French, English, German or Spanish by architects, tour guides for national monuments, journalists or authors specialized in architecture. They are aimed for professionals, art lovers or anyone who just wants a different way to see the city!
More info on Contemporary Architecture in Paris
More info on the new Berges de Seine (new quays)