Paris, a city of architects

Since the architectural vision of Baron Haussmann, Paris has cultivated a real taste for modernity.

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont - Renzo Piano - Richard Rogers

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.

In the north, Bernard Tschumi designed a new type of urban park at La Villette in 1983.  And this is a place which continues to change with the recent opening of the  Philharmonie (Jean Nouvel, 2015).

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

Philharmonie de Paris vue depuis le toit  © William Beaucardet

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

Fondation Louis Vuitton, vue panoramique 1, Paris © Todd Eberle for Fondation Louis Vuitton - 2014

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

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris © OTCP - David Lefranc - Dominique Perrault

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

La Défense

La Défense, Puteaux © OTCP - Jacques Lebar

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

Les Docks

Les Docks - Cité de la Mode et du Design - Façade

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

Aimerparis - Palais Royal 2

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)

Musée du Louvre

Museum
Pyramide du Louvre, Paris, 75001
Book

Every trip to the capital deserves a visit to the Louvre to discover the wealth of treasures it contains. The museum houses......

La tour Eiffel

Monument
5 avenue Anatole France - Champ de Mars, Paris, 75007
Book

A symbol of Paris and more generally of France, the Eiffel Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair. It is one......

Centre Pompidou

Museum
Rue Beaubourg, côté Saint-Merri (jusqu'en mai 2021), Paris, 75004
Book

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

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Museum
Bois de Boulogne - 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris, 75116
Book

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

Philharmonie de Paris

Concert hall
221 avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris, 75019
Book

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

Institut du monde arabe

Museum
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, Paris, 75005
Book

A cultural bridge between France and the Arab world The Arab World Institute was founded in 1987 by France and the states of the......

Aimerparis

Guided tours

Our association of multilingual graduate tour guides (French, German, English) offers all types of guided tours in Paris and the......

GA PARIS

Guided tours

GA PARIS proposes specialized and customized guided tours on architecture, urban planning, design and art. These visits are......

Maison de la Radio

Concert hall
116 avenue du Président Kennedy, Paris, 75016

An iconic venue since the 1960s, the Maison de la Radio is a highly famous building with a strong image. Located on the edge of......

Parc de La Villette - Plein Air

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
211 avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris, 75019

Built on the site of former abattoirs and designed by the architect Bernard Tschumi, the Parc de la Villette is the largest urban......

Le Toit de la Grande Arche

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

The view: At the top of La Grande Arche, you will discover what is now the largest terrace in Paris. A 100 m long promenade......

La Cité de la Mode et du Design

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......

Domaine national du Palais Royal

Park, garden, promenade
Place Colette, Paris, 75001

Created by the Cardinal Richelieu in 1633, the Palais Royal and its gardens, just a short walk from the Louvre, housed royal......

Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

Street, area of interest
Quai de Bercy - Quai François Mauriac, Paris, 75012

Only open to green transport, the footbridge presents a modern design with a lenticular structure. Its five spans cross the......

Paris La Défense

Street, area of interest
Parvis de la Défense, Paris La Défense, 92400

The district of La Défense, the largest economic center in Europe, covers three communes: Courbevoie, Puteaux and Nanterre. This......