Paris, like other major cities such as Barcelona, Chicago or Brasilia, has its fair share of unique constructions designed by leading architects.
In the heart of Paris, the most noteworthy are unquestionably the Pompidou Centre, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Institut du Monde Arabe by Jean Nouvel, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France by Dominique Perrault and, of course, the Louvre Pyramid by Ieoh Ming Pei.
The Modernist wave also swept through Greater Paris, bringing several key developments with unusual architecture: the follies in the Parc de la Villette by Bernard Tschumi, the Philharmonie de Paris by Jean Nouvel or the Cinémathèque Française and the Fondation Louis Vuitton by the deconstructivist master Frank Gehry.
At Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design, the architects Jakob and MacFarlane have successfully grafted an apple-green glass envelope onto an existing industrial building. Another architectural gem is the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux Pathé, opened in 2014, with an astonishing glass shell designed by Renzo Piano behind a façade sculpted by Rodin.
The capital’s sports facilities also include some remarkable architectural treasures, such as the Palais des Sports de l’Île des Vannes in Saint-Ouen, which includes La Grande Nef, a stadium designed by Pierre Chazanoff, Anatole Kopp and René Sarger, with an incredible curved roof resembling an upturned boat, or the futuristic Tournesol (sunflower) swimming pools designed by Bernard Schoeller, a handful of which still exist, for example in Bondy and Les Lilas.
Greater Paris is also home to many record-breaking constructions: the legendary Stade de France in Saint-Denis, apart from being the world’s largest modular Olympic stadium, is an astonishingly original design inspired by a flying saucer.
Finally, a number of examples of religious architecture are worth visiting, like the modernist Eglise Notre-Dame du Raincy built by Auguste Perret in the 1920s. Nicknamed the “Sainte-Chapelle du béton”, it is the first religious building to be built in concrete. The Eglise Saint-Louis de Vincennes is a very fine example of the revival of sacred art in the early twentieth century.
Not forgetting the first twenty-first centurycathedral, Notre-Dame de Créteil which, following its renovation in 1987, is utterly contemporary if not futuristic, with its rib-vaulted bivalve dome reaching up into the sky and its monumental stained-glass window arching overhead like a bridge of light.
The all-concrete Eglise du Saint-Esprit, completed in 1935, contains numerous treasures and can be explored in the company of a guide.
The Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Missions in Epinay-sur-Seine combines different architectural styles, with a bell tower in the form of a minaret and an entrance resembling an oriental pagoda.
Finally, hospital architecture is not to be outdone. The Hôpital Avicenne in Bobigny, for example, listed as a historic monument, is an inspiring combination of modern construction and Moorish-style features.