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36 Hours in Paris: Architect’s Edition

I’ve written on this blog about what influences me: fashion, food, a french heritage. But beyond my own personality, it also affects how I perceive the world.

It’s hard to turn off the architectural central nervous system. It is a lens, titanium-colored glasses, that I resigned myself to the moment I began my masters at Berkeley.

December in Paris is romantic. It’s the stuff movies are made of. But it’s rare that any trip I go on anymore isn’t about business. So, how can an architect properly experience the city when their trip is flanked by meetings?

Let’s skip the basics, or at the very least, the generics.

I love The Louvre but you’ve got to go on a Wednesday when the museum is open late. It’s less crowded and more transparent. The soft lighting transforms the rooms, the pyramid is a glowing beacon and the subtleties of design are accentuated. My favorite part of the museum is to the left of Winged Victory, the Apollo Gallery.

It’s a long hallway dating back to when the French royalty actually lived in Paris. It certainly represents an age of luxury and ornateness that is now lost in architecture. But the truly fantastic thing about this reception hall? This gorgeous room is filled with portraits of the great noble architects of Paris. There are dozens of portraits of them, dating from the 1600s.Image

Visit the 20th arrondissement. It’s an eclectic mix of up-and-coming with residuals of its working class roots. It represents the shifting dynamic of a city. Plus, it houses the famous cemetery, Père Lachaise, which is a city on its own. Like an good city, pay hommage to the known sites but seek out the less well travelled parts. Be a little gothic – check out the abandoned tombs and the vestiges of crypts.

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Even if your French isn’t any good (and trust me, most architects may be fluent in baguettes but not in French) you have to go visit the Comédie Français.  Despite the great scale of space, the theater still feels intimate. Catch one of Molière’s plays if you are feeling daring.

End a day of site seeing promptly at 6:30pm at the Hemingway Bar. There are two reasons to visit. Firstly, you get to walk through the most pompously indulgent hallway in the Paris Ritz.

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Secondly, despite the steep price tag, the bar is kind of fantastic. The cocktails are great and the decor represents in some ways the birth of Vegas design. Image

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