One of my favorite things about Paris is the architectural details that you'll find everywhere: inside museums (Louvre, Musée Carnavalet, Musée Picasso/Hôtel Salé), lamps, doors, the Hector Guimard Metro entrances, the tops of buildings.
The first photo is of the crown mouldings inside the Hôtel Salé/Musée Picasso in the 3rd arrondissement, part of the Marais district.
Too much time is spent rush, rush, rushing from one famous place to another in Paris. Slow down! For Paris is in the details.
Photos: April 2003 & Feb 2006
One of the great things about Paris are the unexpected vistas you'll come across during your walks around Paris. Keep your eyes peeled!
In the 1st photo, I saw this beautiful old archway looking up Rue de Maubeuge from Rue de Dunkerque; it sits next to Gare du Nord. Fantastique!
In the 2nd photo, the gold dome of Les Invalides was peeking through the buildings as I was making my way down Place Jean-Baptiste Clément towards rue Gabrielle (November 2007).
In the 3rd photo, I unexpectedly glimpsed a full-on view of Sacré-Coeur as I made my way up the cobblestoned street of rue Briquet on my way to the youth hostel, Le Village, February 2006.
Fondest memory: I was walking from Gare du Nord to my hotel in Montmartre, just a 20-minute trip when I spied this. Had to take a photo of it to remember it.
Photos: February 2006 & November 2007
Favorite thing: The architecture throughout the arrondissements of Paris is uniform but dynamic, a stately collection of imposing buildings lining all the major streets. Though relics from the Later Middle Ages are few in the City of Light, there are architectural examples of what used to be the norm before the Renaissance -- high gables, conical roofs or towers, bartizan or bay windows, and even battlements are visible throughout Paris. Even as late as the 1850s, a perfect community of medieval nothings once crowded the Place du Parvis, torn down to improve the view of Notre Dame.
I have always been a fan of Hector Guimard but, as is often the case, I only knew part of the story. Guimard is renown for his work designing the Metro stations throughout Paris and one my missions while visiting was to see as many as possible but...a designer cannot survive on just one commission.
As we explored the 16th Arrondissement, we discovered a huge body of the Art Nouveau architect's work that was totally unknown to both Carol and I. It became clear to us why he had been awarded the prestigious task of designing the famous Metro stations. Guimard had won the Concours de Facades for Castel Béranger at 14 la Fountaine in about 1898 just one year before he began to design the stations. If you follow the route in my tip on the 16th Arrondissement you will encounter many of Guimard works.
Fondest memory: Intro Photo: Views of Castel Béranger: (top) Plaque commemorating Guimard's winning of the Facade Compitition; (left) Main entrance of Castel Béranger; (right) side facade with an array gargoyles and dragons.
Photo 2: Apartment entrance at 17 rue la Fontaine demonstrates the designers talent and the sculptor's skill.
Photo 3: And yes...I also did find the famous Metro Station entrances: (top) Abbesses station in Montmartre; Cité station on Ile de la Cité.
Photo 4: The Hôtel Mezzara at 60 rue la Fontaine was built for a friend of Guimard's in 1910. It now serves as the Guimard Museum: (left) front facade; (center top) restored dinning room; (center bottom) grand staircase; (right) spectacular leaded glass skylight over main lobby.
Photo 5: The facade of 17 rue la Fontaine.
What are double-glazed windows you ask? Double-glazing - yes, it's that wonderful architectural convenience of double panes of glass. They help keep out the noise of the street below plus they keep your room warm during winter & cool in summer (assuming you have A/C). So if you have a street-side room be sure to find out if your hôtel has installed these types of windows. It will certainly provide restful nights of slumber while in Paris, where you most certainly need a good night's sleep before trekking around the city the following day.
Fondest memory: The beautiful & beautifully old double-glazed leaded panes in my windows of my first hotel in Paris: Hôtel les Degrés de Nôtre Dame (my favorite hotel in Paris0. Through them I had a lovely view of the south tower of Nôtre Dame!
Photo: March 2001
Maybe one of the reasons for everybody to think Paris is such a beautiful city is the fact that its characteristic buildings are so extravagant that they could be a section of a palace.
In the past, before they were divided in separated apartments, people owned the entire buildings. They lived in what was called a "hotel particulier".
Of course there were no elevators, which were later introduced and forced to fit wherever possible, and that explains why today they are so small and scary in Paris.
Amble along the different streets.
Just take in the sightsThere is so much to do and see and do.
Fondest memory: Too many to mention but the buildings are the most amazing sight.
Next time we visit we would like to go into the museums and galleries.
Not only is Paris conscious and protective of its ancient architectural heritage, but it is very strict about new buildings after the debacles of Montparnasse and the beneficial devastations of Baron Haussmann. There have been many vigorous eras of building in Paris and around 1900 was one of these periods (prizes were given annually). Art Nouveau was the style and many fine buildings are the result. There were other architects besides Guimard. As we wandered in the neighborhood near our hotel of the same name (See Tip) on the Av. La Bourdonnais, filled with expensive condominiums of that period, we entered the Av. Rapp and saw a fine building at #29. It was built in 1901 by Jules Lavirotte. We later found that he had won the 1901 prize for the facade and was considered the next best man to Guimard. There are others by him nearby (we learned later) within 100m: a high school "Da Vinci" at 12 r. Sedillon and up the alley near our first find (#3 Square Rapp); you can find them. On another day as we walked to the Invalides by Av. Tourville, at the last corner, we found someone elses work but do not have a name. Similarly still another on the rue de Rivoli just beyond the Hotel de Ville (which will appear in a Marais Tip)
Fondest memory: All sorts of older and modern architecture.
A mansard or mansard roof (also called a French roof) is a four-sided gambrel-style hip roof made to create additional habitable space.
The style was named after architect Francois Mansart (1598–1666), who use this style a lot in his designs.
It became particularly characteristic of French Renaissance architecture .
Nowadays traditional mansard roofs are all over Paris.
Fondest memory: "In the French language, mansarde can be a term for the style of roof, or for the garret living space, or attic, directly within it...
A Parisian law had been in place since 1783, restricting the heights of buildings to 20 meters (65 feet). The height was only measured up to the cornice line, making any living space contained in a mansard roof exempt."
I want to mention the Australian Embassy & residence in Paris. It is located on the corner of Quai Branley & Rue Jean Rey, a stone's throw from the Bir Hakeim metro station. It was desined by Harry Seidler, a famous Canberra architect, in the mid 1970s.
Many people probably think, like I originally did, that the construction of this modernist concrete building in such close proximity to the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine is a cultural crime. It IS a real pity that its exterior is totally out of harmony with its surroundings, however I have to admit that the interior design is an architectural marvel.
It is laid out in an arc so that ALL apartments have a view of the Eiffel Tower. The amazing part is that all apartments also have a view out the opposite side of the building. "How did the architect achieve that?" I hear you ask... well, with a very clever split-level design that sees corridors and apartments slotted against eachother like crinkle-cut chips. It's a bit of a brain-teaser to work it out, but the effect for the residents is wonderful. So much light, not to mention wonderful views, for everyone.
Unfortunately, unless you know someone who lives there, you can't visit the place. And I certainly would not recommend a look at the outside. Unless you're particularly interested in cultural crimes.
I have lifted the photo from the Harry Seidler website: http://www.seidler.net.au/. More details about the design can be found there.
Oh, and a last bit of trivia... the top-floor Ambassador's Residence has been used as a set in a Bollywood film, though I'm not sure which one. Can anyone fill me in?
Favorite thing: Our trip to Paris in 2012 was in large part inspired by one of The Teaching Company's courses on the Cathedral which we got on dvrs. This one was taught by Dr. William R. Cook whose knowledge, enthusiasm and communication skills contributed to our decision to visit Amines, Beauvais, St. Denis, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Reims and Laon, all of which he discussed in some detail. We were not disappointed with any of our visits and they were greatly enhanced by what we learned from the course. In some of the tips about these churches, I refer to him as a source.
Take the time to stop and feed the pigeons and people watch...
Fondest memory: Fondest memory of Paris is walking through the streets at night...the sights and sounds of Paris is like nothing on Earth...I felt like Hemingway for awhile...
If I'll try to put in to one word what is the first impression from Paris, the word will be - Harmony.
Paris looks perfectly thought-out. The reason why is Haussmannism.
"The Haussmann Renovations, or Haussmannisation of Paris, was a work commissioned by Napoleon III and led by the Seine prefect, Baron Haussmann between 1852 and 1870, though work continued well after the Second Empire's demise in 1870.
The project encompassed all aspects of urban planning, both in the centre of Paris and in the surrounding districts: streets and boulevards, regulations imposed on facades of buildings, public parks, sewers and water works, city facilities and public monuments."
"Hausmannism", a perfectionist art, wasn't satisfied with tracing new streets and utilities. It also intervened in the aesthetic aspects of the habitable building.
The block is designed as a homogeneous architectural one. The building is not treated as an independent structure, but must make, with the other buildings in its block, if not with all others in the same street or quarter, a unified urban landscape.
Fondest memory: The facade typical of the Haussmann:
eraground floor and 'between floors' with thick, usually street-lateral, bearing walls;
second "noble" floor having one or two balconies;
third and fourth floor in the same style but a less elaborate stonework around the windows;
fifth floor with a unique continuous undecorated balcony.
The Haussmannian facade is organised around horizontal lines that often continue from one building to the next: balconies, cornices are perfectly aligned without any noticeable alcoves or projections.
It was not allowed to build anything higher than 66 feet in the city. Most of the appartment buildings in Paris are exactly 66 feet tall.
As a resalt what you see is the Architecture ensemble wich is really very impressive - a rational city with wide avenues and open spaces.
These monuments to the talent of Hector Guimard (1867-1942) are all over Paris. He was awarded the contract to create the surface entries to the Metro after NOT entering the design competition! Art Nouveau was the rage all over Europe and Paris architects were part of the scene. 86 of these cast-iron beauties are still in place. The most complete two are at the Abbesses (near Montmartre) station (the other at Porte-Dauphine) for which I have no pictures. Some are destroyed and others are in museums. This one is at the station at the center of the Ile de la Cite. If you look carefully you may even find his furniture in museums. As to his buildings there are a whole cluster of them in the western part of the 16th Arr. (near the metro Chandon-Lagache). I have not gone there.
Fondest memory: How many of these structure have you stopped to admire?
Bibliothèque Nationale de France François-Mitterrand / Tolbiac
Un concours a été organisé par l'Association pour la Bibliothèque de France, en étroite collaboration avec l'Union internationale des architectes. En juillet 1989, le jury international présidé par I.M. Pei a retenu quatre projets, distinguant particulièrement celui de Dominique Perrault dont le choix a été confirmé par le Président de la République le 21 août 1989.
Le bâtiment conçu par l'architecte est organisé autour d'un socle et de quatre tours d'angle, hautes de 79 mètres. Celles-ci abritent sept étages de bureaux protégés par des volets de bois mobiles et onze étages de magasins. L'accès à l'esplanade se fait par de grands emmarchements face à la Seine. Les deux entrées sont situées à l'Est et à l'Ouest.
Deux niveaux de salles de lecture enserrent un jardin de plus d'un hectare situé en contrebas.
Les magasins de livres (395 kilomètres linéaires) sont situés en partie dans le socle, à proximité immédiate des salles de lecture, et en partie dans les étages supérieurs des tours.
Fondest memory: A contest has been organized by the association for the Library of France, in narrow collaboration with the international union of the architects. In July 1989, the international jury presided by I.M. Pei kept four projects, especially distinguishing the one of Dominique Perrault whose choice has been confirmed by the President of Republic August 21, 1989.
The building conceived by the architect is organized around a pedestal and four towers of angle, high of 79 meters. These shelter seven floors of offices protected by shutters from mobile woods and eleven floors of stores. The access to the esplanade faces itself by big emmarchements the Seine. The two entries are situated to the East and the west.
Two levels of reading rooms enclose a garden of more than a hectare situated down below.
The stores of books (395 linear kilometers) are situated in part in the pedestal, close by immediate of the reading rooms, and in part in the superior floors of the towers.