What’s past is present

One of the things that struck me about being in Paris this time was the contrast between the old and new, the over the top grand empire, beaux arts buildings mixing with — sometimes mashing right up against — the contemporary, edgy, sometimes boundary pushing nouveaux, all of which have come to symbolize Paris over the years. Allowing these multiple renderings and experiments to work together is a feat unto itself, and makes for true architectural splendor (mostly).

Some of the most controversial buildings and monuments in Paris have turned out to become some of its most iconic. Among them, the Centre Pompidou (1977), the inside-out home of the Musée National d’Art Moderne.

Here the towering innards of the Pompidou mingle with its Mansard roofed neighbors. I love the contrast.

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Here’s one closer up, again with its more traditional neighbor:

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This is the Centre from the back, seen from the corner of Rue Rambuteau and Rue Beaubourg (there’s a great photo of the Centre in the linked Beaubourg article).

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The Centre Pompidou from its more recognized entrance side, taken from the large cobble stoned place in front.

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Roof detail:

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One of the classic examples of the old-meets-new controversy is I.M. Pei’s glass Pyramid entrance to the Musée du Louvre (1988).

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The contrast was evident in simpler ways, too. Old-meets-new with a halogen bulb: one of Hector Guimard‘s beautiful art nouveau metro entrances (1900).

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And lastly, Old Church New Church: in a city with as many churches as Paris has, it was somewhat étonnant to stumble upon the contemporary Église Notre-Dame-d’Espérance in the Rue de la Roquette. I don’t love the architecture, but I appreciate their attempt to keep things fresh.

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It was surprising, of course, because this is what one naturally expects to see.

Notre Dame de Paris

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Or la Sainte-Chapelle

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Or this window detail and the nave inside the Église Saint-Séverin in le quartier latin.

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Or, finally, this: the Église Saint-Sulpice.

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We spent lots of time in museums, but the entire city of Paris is a work of art.

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