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Parisian Art Nouveau: Masterpieces & Design Gems

City Guide September 29, 2023

 

When Paris comes to mind, you get a series of images: the Eiffel Tower, a baguette, and the distinct Haussmanian architecture that dresses the majority of the apartments in the city might come to mind. But Paris has other movements, and if you go on a walk and look up, you’ll notice the influence the years have had on the city. This article discusses a fascinating art form and the story behind the term Art Nouveau movement in Paris, must-visit architectural masterpieces, and must-see design gems.

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A Little Bit of History About Art Nouveau

The Art Nouveau style was a highly influential decorative art style that emerged in the late 19th century and was popular in Paris in the early 20th century. It was characterized by the use of flowing and organic lines inspired by nature and new materials and techniques like wrought iron, glass, and ceramics. Art Nouveau was a reaction against the industrialization and mechanization of society to bring beauty and artistry back into everyday life.

The movement was highly innovative and interdisciplinary, influencing the visual arts and architecture, furniture, jewelry, fashion, and more. The Art Nouveau style can still be seen today in many buildings and landmarks throughout Paris- even though the movement only really lasted about 20 years. Exploring the Art Nouveau movement in Paris is a fascinating way to discover the city's rich history and artistic legacy.

 

Art Nouveau Sights

Metro entrances

Begin your tour by exploring the entrances to the Paris Metro stations. These entrances were designed by architect Hector Guimard, who used curvaceous ironwork, vibrant colored glass, and intricate details to create iconic structures now considered works of art. Notable examples include the entrances at Porte Dauphine, Abbesses, and Châtelet.

As you explore the entrances, take note of the unique features that make each one special. For example, the Porte Dauphine entrance has a green-tiled roof and Art Nouveau floral motifs, while the Abbesses entrance features a vivid red roof and a detailed metal railing. The entrance of Châtelet is curved and has a colorful glass roof that lets in lots of natural light.

In addition to their aesthetic value, the Metro entrances serve as important historical and cultural landmarks. They were built during the Belle Époque, a period of French history known for its artistic and intellectual vibrancy, and have since become symbols of Parisian identity. Exploring these entrances allows you to immerse yourself in the city's history and culture and to appreciate its architecture's beauty in a new way.

Location: Porte Dauphine, Abbesses, Châtelet metro stops

 

 

La Samaritaine

As you stroll through the lively streets of Paris, stop at La Samaritaine department store, an iconic building that has stood the test of time! Designed by the talented architect Frantz Jourdain, the store's grand Art Nouveau façade, adorned with a stunning mosaic depicting the story of the "Good Samaritan," is a sight.

But the beauty of La Samaritaine doesn't end there. The building style, which was originally Art Nouveau, has also been influenced by Art Deco, creating a unique and fascinating hybrid blend of the two styles. Once inside, you can fully appreciate the lavish interior's intricate details and finishes.

Take your time and do some shopping while you’re there. Stores range from clothing to home decor. As you browse, you'll be struck by the subtle fusion of Noveau and Art Deco elements, which give the store a timeless elegance.

Overall, visiting La Samaritaine is a must for anyone who appreciates art, architecture, and luxury goods. It's a true gem of Paris that continues to delight visitors from all over the world.

Location: 9 R. de la Monnaie, 75001 Paris

 

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Welcome to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, the Parisian department store that has captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike with its unique blend of Art Nouveau splendor and modern luxury. Founded in 1893, this iconic shopping destination has been a staple of the Parisian shopping scene for over a century.

As you walk through the store, you'll be greeted by stunning Art Nouveau designs at every turn. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of the ceiling above you, which dates back to 1912. This masterpiece was designed and decorated by talented artists, including Édouard Schenck, Jacques Grüber, and Louis Majorelle.

But Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is more than just a department store - it's a cultural institution that has played an important role in shaping the history of Paris. Over the years, the store has hosted countless events and exhibitions showcasing the best of French art, fashion, and design. Paris knows how to outshine your local department store!

Location: 40 Bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris

 

 

Hotel Elysees Ceramic

The Ceramic Hotel is a true masterpiece of the Art Nouveau style, designed by the visionary architect Jules Lavirotte in 1904. It is located near the world-famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris and is a remarkable testament to the enduring allure of this captivating style.

The hotel showcases all the characteristic elements of Art Nouveau, including intricate patterns, curvilinear forms, and the use of natural materials. But what truly sets the Ceramic Hotel apart from other Art Nouveau buildings is its innovative use of ceramics, which is also the inspiration behind its name. Building = creative, name not so much.

The use of ceramics in the Ceramic Hotel's design is truly remarkable. The walls, floors, and furniture are adorned with beautiful ceramic tiles and mosaics, creating stunning visual effects. Moreover, the hotel's ceramics are handmade, adding a touch of unique beauty and craftsmanship to the already impressive structure.

The hotel's location is also noteworthy. Situated near the iconic Arc de Triomphe, the Ceramic Hotel is in the heart of Paris, surrounded by some of the city's most famous landmarks and attractions. Guests can easily explore the city's museums, art galleries, and historic sites from this prime location.

Overall, the Ceramic Hotel is a must-see destination for anyone interested in Art Nouveau or architectural design.

Location: 34 Avenue de Wagram, Paris

 

Musée Carnavalet

The museum is located in the historic district of Le Marais, which has a rich cultural history. The museum showcases a vast collection of Art Nouveau objects, such as furniture, ceramics, jewelry, and posters. The galeries are extensive and will offer you a chance to explore the works of famous artists like Émile Gallé, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and René Lalique.

The museum offers guided tours to help you understand the historical and cultural significance of the displayed objects. These tours are a great way to learn more about the history of Paris and the Art Nouveau movement.

Prices start at 7€ per person.

Location: 23 Rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris Hours: Tue-Sun 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

 

Musée d'Orsay

The Musée d'Orsay is a magnificent museum housed in a restored former railway station. The museum is renowned for its vast collection of French art that spans the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. The collection showcases various artistic styles and movements, including the Art Nouveau style. You can spend hours admiring the museum's many artworks and decorative objects, including furniture, glassware, and sculptures by some of the most famous artists of the Art Nouveau era, such as Émile Gallé and Louis Majorelle.

What makes this museum truly special is its unique setting, which gives visitors a glimpse into Parisian transportation and architecture history.

Tickets purchased at the museum start at 14€ and online at 16€.

Location: 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris

 

 

7th Arrondissement

The 7th Arrondissement of Paris, as one might know as the Eiffel Tower Arrondissement, is famous for its elegant streets and iconic landmarks. It also boasts some notable examples of Art Nouveau architecture that add a touch of enchantment to the neighborhood.

 

Lavirotte Building

As you wander through the 7th Arrondissement, watch for these Art Nouveau gems. Pass by 29 Avenue Rapp, also called the Lavirotte building, might be the city's most eccentric.

 

12 Rue Sedillot

A short walk away is 12 Rue Sedillot. The entire street has gorgeous buildings, but 12 Rue Sedillot stands out with its asymmetrical design, elegant curves, and use of iron railings.

 

151 Rue de Grenelle

The next stop in this Arrondissement is 151 Rue de Grenelle. This house is slightly more modest than the last two, probably because it was the first building by Lavirotte in Paris. Always interesting to see the first of anything!

 

33 Rue du Champ de Mars

The last stop in this area is 33 Rue du Champ de Mars. Designed by Architect Octave Raquin around the 1900s, this stunning building has been nicknamed La Maison des Arums or House of Lilies.

 

16th Arrondissement

In the western part of Paris, the 16th arrondissement exudes an air of refinement and elegance. While known for its stately Haussmannian architecture, this district also harbors a collection of hidden treasures that pay homage to the captivating Art Nouveau movement. I mean, why else would we include it here?

 

Castel Béranger

The first stop here is 14 Rue Jean de la Fontaine, where you’ll find Castel Béranger, a residential building designed by the visionary architect Hector Guimard. With its curving balconies, ornate ironwork, and unique door and window designs, Guimard's avant-garde approach is truly spectacular.

 

Hôtel Mezzara

Another interesting building in the area to look out for is located at 60 Rue Jean de la Fontaine, called Hôtel Mezzara. Hôtel Mezzara is another architectural jewel by Hector Guimard. While it’s not accessible to the public, the exterior of this private townhouse showcases Guimard's signature ironwork and delicate glass panels.

 

Hôtel Jassedé

Another design by architect Hector Guimard, this exquisite townhouse showcases intricate ironwork, flowing lines, and organic motifs. While not usually accessible to the public, its presence highlights the enduring legacy of Art Nouveau in the city.

The 16th arrondissement is a fascinating district in Paris, rich with Art Nouveau-inspired architecture that reflects the unique vision of each architect involved in its creation. The district has various residential buildings and townhouses, each boasting distinctive ornamentation and organic lines.

Visitors can easily spend a day exploring the neighborhood's many hidden gems, from the vibrant colors of the ceramic tiles to the intricate wrought-iron balconies. In addition to its architectural treasures, the 16th arrondissement is known for its charming cafés, world-class museums, and beautiful parks. Take a stroll through the neighborhood, and you'll fall for its unique charm and character.

Paris is a magnificent city with a wealth of history, culture, and beauty that can be difficult to fully appreciate at first glance. From the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower to the quaint charm of Montmartre, Paris offers a unique blend of old-world elegance and modern sophistication.

One particular aspect of Parisian culture that is not to be missed is the Art Nouveau movement, which flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This innovative style, characterized by flowing lines, organic shapes, and intricate details, can be seen throughout the city's architecture, decorative arts, and even its metro stations. There is no need to visit a museum when a stroll around the city is full of history.

By exploring the Art Nouveau landmarks of Paris, you can gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating period in history and the artists who helped shape it. From the iconic entrances of the Paris Metro to the stunning facades of buildings like the Castel Beranger, the city is home to many breathtaking examples of this influential style.

We hope this guide will inspire you to venture out and discover these sights for yourself, immersing yourself in this incredible city's rich history and culture. Whether you're an art aficionado or simply visiting the city for the first time, Paris has something to offer everyone, and we're confident that you'll fall in love with it, just as we have.

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