Paris is known for having beautifully preserved architecture, with superb stone monuments and wide boulevards.
Paris is also one of the cities in which the Art Nouveau movement was born in the early 20th century, and some parts of town have some magnificent examples of its architecture that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
We decided to take part in a guided walk organised by Des Mots & Des Arts, the perfect excuse to share with you some beautiful photos of some incredible buildings…
Here’s our photo report.
Our walk starts in the northwest 16th arrondissement, on rue Jean de la Fontaine. It’s here that Hector Guimard (also the architect behind those retro metro station entrances you’ve probably seen) designed and built some extraordinary examples of Art Nouveau architecture, founding his reputation as the style’s star proponent.
Castel Béranger has all the elements that were to make him famous overnight – unusual materials (brick), an asymmetric façade, bow windows, apparent structural elements (metal beams), stained glass, rich ornamentation even for the interior courtyards…
Awarded a prize in a Paris architectural contest in 1898, the building was classed a historic monument in 1992.
A few steps away is another building designed by Guimard, with a large, more classical undulating façade, just as elegant and apparently designed with a richer clientele in mind.
And on the same street again, we stop in front of the Hôtel Mezzara, which is not a hotel of course but a house commissioned by textile mogul Paul Mezzara and constructed in 1910.
Since then it has been resold a few times and since the mid-1956 had belonged to France’s education system. They haowever now want to seel it, and there’s a project to turn into an arts centre dedicated to Art Nouveau.
You can find more info about that (in French) here (and even more photos of the interior in the PDF for the project here).
On our way to see one last Guimard house, we stop in front of an astonishing building created by architect Jean-Marie Bossard in 1894 using a rather strange mix of styles. It’s slightly odd but also fascinating.
And then we arrive at out last Guimard house of the walk. It’s on square Jasmin, dates from 1922 and has a slightly sad story behind it.
Built between the wars, the Guimard is now ‘old’, out of fashion and vilified. Budgets are tighter too, with the house constructed in reinforced concrete pretending to be stone.
The same neighbourhood of Paris has many other buildings that it would be a shame to miss. First of all we walk to the end of a private alley (open to the public) which has a classic building by Le Corbusier, all straight lines and rigidity…
…then there are a few wonderful examples of building to see on our way to our final destination…
…which is rue Mallet-Stevens, names after the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, because it contains five villas that he constructed between 1926 and 1934 (including one for himself).
This little street is almost perfectly preserved, and probably much in demand for period films. You could almost bellieve you were back in the 1920s!
We really enjoyed our architectural walk around this area of Paris.
For more information about the guided visits organised by Des Mots & Des Arts, click any photo to visit their site.
And if you want to see all our photos of the visit, just click here.
Des Mots et Des Arts website: www.desmotsetdesarts.com