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Contemporary architecture in Paris

19th century Haussmannian Paris coexists more and more closely with an architecture that is sometimes confusing, sometimes impressive but always brilliant. Here is a list of the main modern and contemporary buildings in the capital.


The Louvre pyramid

Pyramide du Louvre à Paris

Let’s start with a classic: enthroned in the courtyard of the Louvre Palace, the pyramid inaugurated in 1988 is a real architectural feat built by the Chinese-American Ieoh Ming Pei. It stands out in the landscape and disturbs – positively or negatively depending on the school of thought – the eye of the walker.


The Louis Vuitton Foundation

For six years now, this glass sailboat, as intimidating as it is transparent, has occupied part of the famous Bois de Boulogne. The architect Franck Gehry explains its form : “(I wanted) to design for Paris a magnificent vessel which symbolises the deep cultural vocation of France”. Get on board!


The Pompidou Centre

Le Centre Georges Pompidou (Beaubourg) vu de la Tour Saint-Jacqu

This building requires no introduction and is hard to miss. The Pompidou Centre is a big structure made up of colourful pipes and escalators housing immense spaces where contemporary art reigns supreme. The work of the renowned Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Pompidou Centre also houses a panoramic restaurant whose view is worth the detour.


The Paris Philharmonic

Nestled in the heart of the Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement, the Paris Philharmonic is the result of the innovative work of Jean Nouvel. Covered with 340,000 aluminum tiles that are arranged to look like birds in different shades of gray, the building moves and enchants us even before the first notes of a melody are played.


La Seine Musicale

Still in the theme of music, but in a completely different style. Head for the tip of Île Seguin at the foot of the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, where this musical complex resembling a giant ocean liner has been since 2017. More than 1,000 square meters of photovoltaic panels rotate to the rhythm of the sun and offer a breathtaking spectacle just a stone’s throw from Paris, in the town of Boulogne-Billancourt.


L’Institut du Monde Arabe

A place of cultural exchange between Arab civilisations and the Western world, and also created by Jean Nouvel, this monument stands out in a district marked by tradition. Facing the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Institut du Monde Arabe borrows some of the main features of Islamic architecture such as the shuttered windows on the southern facade inspired by the moucharabies of Moorish palaces.


The dome of the former headquarters of the French Communist Party


Signed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the dome of the Espace Niemeyer, 2 place du Colonel-Fabien in the 19th arrondissement, is lined with thousands of shimmering metal slats that offer a truly mesmerising spectacle to anyone gazing at the ceiling. The former headquarters of the Communist Party, it now hosts numerous conferences, exhibitions and parades, from Prada to Jean-Paul Gautier.


The canopy of Les Halles

As Oscar Niemeyer rightly pointed out: “the whole universe is made of curves”. Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti were inspired by the curved shapes of the trees located in this area to create the form of Les Halles. 18,000 pieces of glass let in light… and rain from time to time.


The Quai Branly Museum – Jacques Chirac


Hidden amongst the greenery and perched on stilts on the banks of the Seine, the Quai Branly museum (close to the Eiffel Tower!) hosts collections from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Jean Nouvel wanted to make the idea of ​​bridges between cultures a reality in his architecture.


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