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Cultural Analysis of Paris

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3425 words Published: 18th Oct 2021

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The city of Paris began in the 3rd century when a tribe called the Parisii settled on the Ile de la Cite. In 52 the Romans conquered the Parisii and built a town on the River Seine. Roman Paris was not a town of significance and had a population of less than 10,000. By the late 3rd century, the Roman Empire was in decline.

In 486 a race called the Franks captured Paris and the town thrived. In 845 the Vikings raided Paris and so the French king paid them to leave. From the 11th century, Paris thrived again. In the Middle Ages, the town grew quickly and became one of the largest in Europe. Its population reached 200,000.

In 1338 the Hundred Years War between France and England began and in 1348 the Black Death swept Paris. In 1357 the mayor of the Paris Etienne led a rebellion however a year later royalist forces captured Paris and Marcel and his followers were executed. In 1420 the English captured Paris however in 1436 the French recaptured the town.

Paris recovered from the Hundred Years War and in 1528 King Francois I moved his court to the town. Paris thrived again. In the 16th century, the Reformation swept France. French Protestants were persecuted, and 2,000 Protestants in Paris were killed by Catholics.

In 1589 King Henry III was assassinated leaving a Protestant heir to the throne. Many Catholics refused to accept Henry of Navarre and so he had to fight for his throne. In 1593 he converted to Catholicism and a year later he entered Paris.

King Henry IV began building great public buildings in Paris such as the Pont Neuf. In 1610 he was assassinated but his widow built the Palais de Luxembourg. In the 17th century, Louis XVI continued to build great buildings.

Alongside the great buildings there were many cafes and Paris was notable for its philosophers. However, there was also a great deal of poverty.

In 1789 the French Revolution broke out and Paris was at the centre. Parisians took cannons and guns from the Invalides and surrounded a fortress and prison called the Bastille. The governor was forced to surrender. To the ordinary people, the Bastille was a symbol of royal power and arbitrary government.

From 1792, the Great Terror swept France. Thousands of people were executed in Paris. A year later, a movement called De Christianisation began. Churches were vandalised and closed. The Notre Dame was renamed the Temple of Reason. In 1794 the Terror ended. Thousands of prisoners were released, and Paris recovered.

In 1799 Napoleon became ruler of France. He built great buildings such as the Pont des Arts, the Arc de Triomphe and La Madeleine. In 1814 allied armies occupied Paris.

In 1830, a revolution took place in Paris. Louis Philippe became constitutional monarch of France. In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution began to transform France. Paris grew quickly but many of its inhabitants lived in poverty. In 1832 cholera killed 20,000 people in the city.

In 1848 discontent in Paris resulted in another revolution and Napoleon III took power. During his reign, parts of Paris were rebuilt. Baron Haussmann was responsible for demolishing much of Paris and rebuilding new streets. Paris thrived and its population grew quickly.

In 1870 during the Franco Prussian War, Prussian troops raided Paris. Parisians were reduced to starvation and the city surrendered. The French government made a formal peace treaty with the Prussians, but the Parisians objected to its terms and in 1871 rose to rebellion. A government called the Paris Commune was formed in the city. The French government sent troops and the rebellion was crushed. Afterward, thousands of Communards were executed.

Paris recovered and in the late 19th century thrived. In 1889 the Eiffel Tower was unveiled and in 1900 the Metro opened.

After the First World War, Paris went through a period of recovery. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Paris thrived. However, in 1940 Paris fell to the Germans. In 1944 Paris rose in rebellion and allied forces entered the city.

In 1968 Paris was shaken by student riots, but stability soon returned. In the 20th century, great buildings were built in Paris such as the Tour Montparnasse, the Hotel Concorde Lafayette and the Pompidou Centre. Today Paris is a thriving city. Its population is 2,200,000.


The history of Paris has a great influence on its architecture. Baron Hausmann comes to mind when it comes to architecture in Paris however building styles from other periods can be found. From the late 19th century, architectural styles have followed political influences.

In the 19th century, Paris went through a period of recovery. After the Revolution, the Napoleonic era brought a sense of stability to the city of Paris. The buildings that were built during this time were of a classical style. The Restoration came next which marked a period of political change. The reigns of Louis XVII and Charles X saw a stop to the construction of luxurious buildings. Clean facades with rectangular windows came in their place. The buildings were uniform in style with little decoration.

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In 1853 Baron Haussmann was commissioned by Napoleon III. The Haussmann project of renovation reached until the First World War. Baron Haussmann was responsible for demolishing Medieval buildings, introducing sewers and sanitation and widening avenues. 20,000 buildings were demolished to rebuild 34,000 in their place. Haussmann buildings were four or five storeys with freestone facades, wide windows and balconies on the second floor. Today these buildings are identifiable throughout Paris.

The post Haussmann era began with a relaxation of planning regulations. In 1914 ornaments began to appear on buildings facades. Greek, Roman and Renaissance inspired details such as the bow window were added.

In the 20th century, the Art Nouveau style appeared in Paris as architectural norms became free from standards. The curved shapes, mixed materials and range of colours of the Art Nouveau style architectural style drew criticism for its luxuriance after the trauma of the Great War and so Art Deco replaced Art Nouveau. Art Deco has straight lines and little decoration which is the symbol of a more classical architecture in Paris.

After the 1930’s architecture in Paris was driven by economic and demographic restraints. Use of reinforced concrete became widespread in the city for residential and social housing. Tower blocks appeared in response to the need for an increasing hosting capacity. In the last few decades some architects have returned to older architectural styles.

Louis Vuitton Foundation

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is a museum and cultural centre sponsored by the group LVMH. It is run as a legally separate, non profit structure as part of LVMH’s promotion of art and culture.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is driven to serve the public by making art and culture accessible to all. In the words of Bernard Arnault, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is, ‘A new space that opens up a dialogue with a wide public and offers artists and intellectuals a platform for debate and reflection.’

In 2014 the museum opened. The building was designed by the architect Frank Gehry and is near the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne. In 2017 more than 1,400,000 people visited the Louis Vuitton Foundation.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is important to civic life because it brings about economic advantages. In developing cities such as Paris, the income generated can make up a large proportion of private, local and national incomes.

In 2001 Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, met Frank Gehry and told him of plans for a new building for the Louis Vuitton Foundation in the Bois de Boulogne. In 2006 the building was first presented with plans to open in late 2009 or early 2010.

In 2007 the city of Paris which owns the park granted a building permit, however in 2011 an association for the safeguard of the Bois de Boulogne won a court battle as the judge ruled the museum had been built too close to a road regarded as a public right of way. Opponents complained that a new building would disrupt the peace of the historic park. The city appealed the court decision. The architect Jean Nouvel said of the objectors, ‘With their little tight fitting suits, they want to put Paris in formalin. It’s quite pathetic.’ A special law was passed by the Assemblee Nationale that the Louis Vuitton Foundation was in the national interest and, ‘a major work of art for the whole world,’ which allowed it to proceed.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation drew criticism from objectors because the building is of a less classical architectural style. However, in my personal opinion, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is important to civic life because it inspires architectural development. 

Frank Gehry visited the garden and designed a building inspired by the Grand Palais and the structures of glass such as the Palmarium which was built for the Jardin d’Acclimatation. The building site is designed after the founding principles of 19th century landscaped gardens. It connects the building with the Jardin d’Acclimatation at north and the Bois de Boulogne to the south.

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The building has galleries of different sizes, an auditorium on the lower ground floor and multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations. Frank Gehry had to build within the restraints of a two storey bowling alley that previously stood on the site. Anything higher had to be glass. The museum takes the form of a sailboat’s sails inflated by the wind. The glass sails envelop the, ‘iceberg,’ a series of shapes with white, flowery terraces.

According to Frank Gehry’s office more than 400 people contributed design plans, engineering rules and construction constraints to a shared web hosted digital model. The building’s façade is formed of the 3,600 glass panels and 19,000 concrete panels designed by industrial robots working off the common model.

In 2008 construction began. The realisation of the 126,000 square foot project required innovative technological developments from the design phase with the use of design software specially adapted for the aviation industry. The teams in project management worked on the same digital model at the same time so that professionals could exchange information in real time.

In 2012 construction of the building reached a milestone with the installation of glass sails. The sails are made of 3,583 laminated glass panels, each unique and specially curved to fit the shapes drawn by the architect Frank Gehry. The gallery sections are covered in a white fibre reinforced concrete called Ductal. The teams participating in the construction of the museum were awarded many architectural awards in France and the United States.

Musee d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay is a museum in Paris on the River Seine. It is in the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station of the Beaux Arts architectural style. The museum holds mainly French art including paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography. It has the largest collection of impressionist and post impressionist masterpieces from around the world by painters such as Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. It is one of the largest museums in Europe. In 2017 the Musee d’Orsay had 3,177,000 visitors.

The Musee d’Orsay is important to civic life because museums can increase a sense of wellbeing, inspire, challenge and stimulate. With society facing issues such as poverty, inequality, intolerance and discrimination, museums such as the Musee d’Orsay can help us understand, debate and challenge these concerns. Museums can improve life chances by breaking down barriers to access and inclusion through public participating, engaging with diverse communities and sharing collections and knowledge in ways that transform lives. In the Musee d’Orsay, Parisians can view French art which helps them to feel proud of where they have come from.

The museum building was previously a railway station built for the Chemin de Fer de Paris a Orleans and finished for the Exposition Universelle to the design of Lucien Magne, Emile Benard and Victor Laloux. Until 1930 it was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France.

The Exposition Universelle was a world’s fair held in Paris to celebrate the achievements of the past century and to accelerate development into the next. The fair displayed many technological developments and brought attention to the Art Nouveau architectural style. The Musee d’Orsay is important to civic life because of its notable history and heritage.

In 1939 the stations short platforms became unsuitable for the longer trains that had come to be used for mainline services. After it was used for suburban services and part of it became a mailing centre during the Second World War. It was then used as a set for several films and a haven for the Renaud Barrault Theatre Company and for auctioneers while the Hotel Drouot was being rebuilt. The building had many purposes and was of significance to a large number of people.

In 1970 permission was granted to demolish the station however Jacques Duhamel, Minister of Cultural Affairs, ruled against plans to rebuild a new hotel in its place. The station was put on the supplementary list of Historic Monuments and in 1978 finally listed. The Directorate of the Museum of France came up with plans to turn the station into a museum to connect the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Centre.

In 1981 Gae Aulenti designed the interior including the internal arrangement, decoration, furniture and fittings of the building. In 1986 the museum was ready to receive its exhibits. It took 6 months to install 2,000 paintings, 600 sculptures and other works. In 1986 the museum opened by then president Francois Mitterrand.

The Musee d’Orsay is important to civic life because of the advantages to historic building restoration. A city is rich in culture when it has a significant appearance of historical eras. The museum helps Parisians to feel proud of their community’s history. The restoration of historic buildings such as the Musee d’Orsay has a positive effect on civic life.

The restoration of the Musee d’Orsay brought about opportunities for saving money because the preservation of the buildings materials is a responsible way to invest in visual appeals. The restoration of the Musee d’Orsay provided Paris with a great building on developed land which was beneficial to contractors because it gave them existing elements of architectural history that cannot be duplicated. As a centre of attraction for tourism, the Musee d’Orsay continues to generate revenue.


I chose to write about Paris because the city is notable for its museums and architectural landmarks. In my personal opinion, Paris is an interesting city because artists from around the world visit to educate themselves and seek inspiration from its artistic resources and galleries. Today Paris has some of the world’s most famous museums and galleries and remains home to a thriving community of artists.

In 2016, I visited Paris. The city of Paris is of significance to me because of its museums and architectural landmarks. In Paris I visited the Louvre museum. In my personal opinion, the Louvre is interesting because it is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument. I also visited the Eiffel Tower because it is a global cultural icon of Paris and one of the most identifiable structures in the world.

The city of Paris is of significance to me because of the fashion which is why I chose to write about the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Paris has been an international hub of fashion design for many years. Haute couture began in the city of Paris and remains the second largest industry. It is supported by the government for, ‘its economic and tourist value.’ In Paris I visited the Champs Elysees, a great destination for shopping. The Champs Elysees is one of the most identifiable avenues in the world.

In my personal opinion, Art Deco is the most interesting architectural style. Art Deco buildings are underrated and often overlooked by visitors expecting Haussmann buildings of a more traditional architectural style. Art Deco followed classical forms and traditions but its creators strived to be modern. Influenced by cubism, the buildings are stylised and abstract with references to machines and transport. Art Deco is unique because it is the only architectural style that is both classical and modern.

Art Deco is of significance to me because it is the last architectural style to have figurative decoration. Sculptures of human faces and bodies, acanthus leaves, flower vases and so on appear on Art Deco buildings. In my personal opinion, these details make the Art Deco architectural style interesting.

In the words of Jean Paul Claverie, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is a, ‘haute couture building.’ In my personal opinion, I agree with this because the Louis Vuitton Foundation is an expensive and fashionable building. The building is a striking example of the Contemporary architectural style. The Louis Vuitton Foundation is of significance to me because the building is highly conceptual and resembles sculpture which make it interesting.

The Musee d’Orsay is of significance to me because of its great collection of art and striking Beaux Arts architectural style. In my personal opinion, the Musee d’Orsay is an interesting building because it is unique. It is difficult to find another building similar to the museum or with the same significance. Historical buildings such as the Musee d’Orsay create a sense of nostalgia which no other kind of building can provide. The Musee d’Orsay is unique in itself because of its artistic heritage.


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