“I dream of designing a magnificent vessel for Paris that symbolises France’s profound cultural vocation.”
With these words, the famous Canadian-American architect, creator of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum (1997), gave his blessing to the opening, in October 2014, of his latest masterpiece, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. We were lucky enough to be in Paris that week and joined perhaps 10,000 others for its first open weekend.
Built in 1859, this former elevated railway viaduct came into Paris from the east, terminating at Place de la Bastille in the 12th arr. After the creation of the RER A line in 1969 the Viaduc de Bastille became redundant, gradually declining into another example of neglect and decay that was slated for demolition. Instead, under a bold urban renewal program by the City of Paris in the 1980s, the Viaduc’s fortunes were revived.
The famous passages couverts—covered passages—of Paris were an early form of shopping arcades, mostly dating from the first half of the 19th century. By the 1850s, there were around 150 covered passages in Paris, although Haussmann’s massive urban renewal program of Paris saw a number of these demolished. Of those that remain, some are still dusty and forgotten, awaiting revitalisation, but there are many that have been beautifully restored to their original Art Nouveau or Neoclassical splendour. Here are just some of them.
France is a great place to pick up bargain vintage wares. If a visit to a flea market, rummaging through racks of vintage fashion, or just the thrill of the chase, hoping to find that diamond in the rough, is your idea of a great day out, then France has a wealth of unforgettable experiences waiting for you, right across the country.
When we think of great things to see and do in Paris, our first thoughts often go to the world famous monuments, incredible museums, fantastic range of food and some of the best shopping in the world. Often overlooked are the wonderful green spaces, all of which contribute to all these unforgettable experiences.