Architectural styles of Paris

Paris is known as a modern international city, but its architecture breathes the air of history. Paris is the result of centuries of grandiose urban planning. The city is known for

the fusion of styles such as Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Contemporary architecture. All these create a mixture that turns into an elegant Parisian aesthetic.


Evidence of Roman Paris can be seen in the residential establishments in the Crypte Archéologique , the Arènes de Lutèce , the frigidarium and other remains of Roman baths dating from around AD200.

Merovingian & Carolingian

Merovingian and Carolingian periods, during 6th to 10th centuries, produced a relatively large number of churches but very little of them survived. All that still stands is the Tour Clovis , a heavily restored Romanesque tower.


A religious revival in the 11th century led to the construction of many roman (Romanesque) churches, typically with round arches, massive walls, few (and small) windows and a lack of ornamentation that bordered on the austere.No remaining building in Paris is entirely Romanesque, but several have essential representative elements. Église St- Germaindes Prés , built in the 11th century on the site of the Merovingian ruler Childeric’s6th-century abbey, has been altered many times over the centuries, but the Romanesque bell tower above the west entrance has changed little since AD 1000. The choir, apse and truncated bell tower of Église St-Nicolas des Champs , now part of the Muséedes Arts et Métiers, areRomanesque.

Renaissance Period

The Renaissance period began at the end of the fifteenth century and with the influence of the Italian Renaissance. This style came to France with the Italians who arrived in the Loire Valley. One of the first examples of this period is Chateau d'Amboise , and it's famous because Leonardo Da Vinci spent his last days there. The gothic style mixed with the Italian Renaissance in France made impressive results. The Chateau de Chambord is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture that blends traditional medieval forms with classical Italian structures.


The 12th-century west front of Notre-dame is an excellent example of early Gothic, while the transept with its intricate tracery and the interior of Sainte- Chapelleare excellent examples of mid-13th-century High Gothic.In the mid-16th century, following campaigns in Italy, François I introduced grand Renaissance forms to the French capital. The best example of the French interpretation of the Renaissance style – known as Mannerism – is the palace atFontainebleau.


During the baroque period (tail end of the 16th to late 18th centuries), painting,sculpture and classical architecture were integrated to create structures and interiors of great elegance, refinement, and grace. With the advent of the baroque,architecture became more pictorial, with painted church ceilings illustrating the Passion of Christ to the faithful, and palaces invoking the power and order of the state.

Remarkable examples of frenchbaroque include Église Notre-Dame du Val-de-Grâce by François Mansart, Château de Vaux-le- Vicomte by Louis Le Vau.


Neoclassical architecture appeared about 1740 and had it was the result of renewed interest in classical forms. A search for order, reason, and serenity through the adoption of forms, columns, and traditional ornamentation characterized this style.

The Institutde France is a masterpiece of early French neoclassical architecture, but France’s most magnificent neoclassical architect was Jacques- Germain Soufflot , creator of the Panthéon in the Latin Quarter in the 18th century.Napoleon used Neoclassical architecture to embody the glory of imperial France and its capital. Example of Napoleonic Neoclassicism is the Arc de Triomphe , the Arc de Triomphedu Carrousel , Église de Ste-Marie Madeleine and others.The zenith of this huge 19th-century movement was Palais Garnier , by Charles Garnier.

Art Nouveau

Art nouveau, which emerged in Europe and the USA in the second half of the 19thcentury, caught on quickly in Paris, and its influence lasted until World War I. Twisted curves and asymmetrical forms, water lilies, the patterns on insect wings and the flowering boughs of trees defined this style.

Art nouveau’sFrench name came from a Paris gallery that featured works in the ‘new art’ style.The style is expressed to perfection in Paris by Hector Guimard’s graceful metro entrances and Le Marais synagogue,the former train station housing the Musée d’Orsay , and department stores including Le Bon Marché , Galeries Lafayette and La Samaritaine.

Early 20th century

The Modern Movement of the 1920s and 1930s and Art Deco , characterized by clean lines and stylisedforms, were born in Paris, with architects Robert Mallet-Stevens and Le Corbusier their chief exponents. At the same time, a more pompous, neoclassical style of Modernism emerged, epitomized by the Palais de Chaillot.

Later 20th century

From the 1960s, Paris transformed. Facades were cleaned, the metro network modernized, and old parts of the city, such as the market at Les Halles, demolished. Technical advances enabled architects to build upwards ( La Défense ), expand indoor space ( Centre Pompidou, La Villette, Bercy ) and experiment with materials that reflect light.In the 1980s François Mitterrand left his mark with many huge projects. These include I.M. Pei’s pyramidal entrance to the Louvre , Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe , the Opéra Bastille , Grande Arche at La Défense and Bibliothèque Nationalede France.

The 21st century

Recent years have brought Jacques Chirac’s Muséedu Quai Branly, the largest museum built in Paris since the Centre Pompidou.

Image result for Department of Islamic Art

InSeptember 2012, a new wing of the Muséedu Louvre, designed by Rudy Ricciottiand Mario Bellini to house the Department of Islamic Art, was inaugurated by President Hollande and is the museum’s most ambitious project since I. M. Pei’s pyramid.

Drawing on the city’s longstanding tradition of metalwork and glass in its architecture, Canadian architect Frank Gehryused 12 large glass ‘sails’ to design the Foundation Louis Vuitton, which opened in the Bois de Boulogne in late 2014.

Jean Nouvel’s Philharmoniede Paris, a state-of-the-art creation with a dazzling metallic facade that took three years to build and that cost €381 million, opened in2015.

The glass is a significant feature of the 1970s eyesore turned into Forum Des Halles shopping center - a curvilinear and glass-topped construction by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti, completed in 2016.

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