Modern architecture walk in Paris

12th and 13th districts are much less touristy than central Paris but are nonetheless a fascinating area to explore on foot.
These riverside districts have been in permanent mutation for the past 30 years and are shaping up to be the new architectural face of the capital. If you’re an architecture buff you should enjoy this walk on the waterfront.

Pavillon de l’Arsenal

The Pavillon de l’Arsenal is one of the unknown treasures of Paris, a great place to understand historical and contemporary architecture and urban planning of the City of Lights.
Located between the Place de la Bastille and the Île Saint-Louis, the Pavillon de l’Arsenal occupies a small building built in 1879 that used to serve to store artwork and then functioned as a warehouse.
In 1988 it became a center for documentation and exhibitions related to urban planning and the architecture of Paris.

So, even if it is not based in the 12th or 13th but in the 4th arrondissement it is an ideal start for this modern architecture walk.

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

The center of the space is occupied by a 48 screen interactive display. This 37m2 digital model showcases an aerial view of Paris and simultaneously displays what currently exists and the Paris of the future.

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

All around, illustrations, maps and models explain how Paris’ territory has evolved since the Middle Ages.

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

First and second floors are dedicated to temporary exhibitions.

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

I really enjoyed this visit.

Institut du monde arabe

L’institut du monde arabe (Arab World Institute) is an organization founded in Paris in 1980 by 18 Arab countries with France to research and disseminate information about the Arab world and its cultural and spiritual values. The Institute also promotes cooperation and exchanges between France and the Arab nations, particularly in the areas of science and technology, contributing to understanding between the Arab world and Europe.
Designed by Jean Nouvel, the building houses a museum, library, auditorium, restaurant, and offices.

Institut du monde arabe

This building combines Arabic art with the most sophisticated modern technology. The southern facade, which overlooks the green square, is made out of steel lenses. They are used to shade the interior of the building and from the outside they look like Arabic ornaments.

Institut du monde arabe

Institut du monde arabe

The roof has one of the best views of Paris, judge by yourself:

Notre Dame

Well, I know must be much better on a sunny day.

Musée de la Sculpture en Plein Air

Opened in 1980 in the Square Tino Rossi, the museum displays sculptures by famous artists including César, Constantin Brancusi, Nicolas Schöffer and Émile Gilioli.

La Cité de la mode et du design

Parisian architects Jakob + MacFarlane have converted the existing concrete skeleton of a former warehouse into a center for design and fashion. It is one of the most remarkable contemporary monuments of Paris with its bold architecture.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

One of the Grands Projets (Mitterrand’s 15 billion franc program to provide a series of modern monuments to symbolize France’s central role in art, politics, and world economy at the end of the twentieth century) which is also the largest.
The new complex consists of a large esplanade and four identical L-shaped towers, whose form recalls the shape of an open book. This architecture was controversial; many considered it too costly, and not very suitable to the storage of book collections. Indeed, wooden boards had to be set up at the windows to protect the books from the light.


The national library contains around 12 million tomes stored on 420km of shelves and can hold 2000 readers and 2000 researchers.

Les Frigos

Built in the 1920s this industrial flour mill was designed by Georges Wybo, the French architect who made the famous Printemps Department Store.
Closed down since the end of 1996, after 5 years of works and renovation by architect Rudy Ricciotti, the Grands Moulins de Paris (the “Big Mills of Paris”) now house a section of the Denis Diderot University.

Les grands moulins

This 1920s industrial building plastered from head to foot in graffiti used to be a storage depot for refrigerated railway wagons (frigos means refrigerators in French).
It has now become an established artists’ squat and some 200 artists use it now as gallery and studio space.

La passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir is the 37th and most recent bridge in Paris (2006), and it is one of the 4 bridges dedicated to pedestrians (and non motorised transports, like rollerblades or bicycles). It connects two modern (and green) urban areas of Paris, Bercy on the Right Bank, and Tolbiac area on the Left Bank.

Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

Parc de Bercy

My walk stops at the Parc de Bercy. Read more about Bercy neighbourhood here.

Parc de Bercy

Paris invisible

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