Thanks to Baron Haussmann's modernization of the city in the 19th century, in architectural terms, Paris is more homogeneous than most capitals. The uniformity of Haussmannian architecture is undoubtedly key to Paris's charm and beauty, but you don't have to look far to find traces of other styles and periods.
Start: Ile de la Cité.
1. Cathédrale de Notre-Dame
Built between 1163 and 1250, but added to over the centuries, Notre-Dame is the archetypal Gothic cathedral. The key features of Gothic architecture were flying buttresses, rose windows, and if you venture inside, vaulted ceilings.
Head north along Rue de la Cité. Cross the Seine and continue along Rue St-Martin. Turn left onto Rue de Rivoli. When you see the Louvre, turn left onto Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny and go into the Cour Carrée.
2. Musée du Louvre
The left-hand side of the façade opposite you is the oldest part of the Louvre. Built in the 1530s, it's a good example of Renaissance architecture. Admire the decorative bas-reliefs, the pilasters (shallow columns projecting from the wall), and the symmetry of the facade.
Take Métro line 1 from Louvre-Rivoli to Concorde. Change onto either line 8 or 12 to Madeleine.
3. Église de la Madeleine
Inspired by ancient Rome, Napoleon I ordered the construction of this neoclassicist temple. He intended it to be a "Temple to the Glory of the Great Army," but as it was incomplete when he fell from grace, it became a church and was consecrated in 1842.
Walk around the church and turn down Rue Tronchet. At the end of the street, you'll come to:
4. Boulevard Haussmann
Named after the Baron who transformed Paris in the 19th century, this wide tree-lined boulevard demonstrates the key characteristics of Haussmannian architecture; look for wrought-iron balconies and the alignment of the windows and balconies to create a sense of perspective.
5. Métro Abbesses
This is one of the only two original Métro entrances that are left in Paris (the other is at Porte Dauphine). Designed by Hector Guimard in 1900, the Paris Métro entrances were a classic example of the Art Nouveau style.
Take Métro line 12 to Madeleine and change onto line 14. Get off at Bibliothèque François Mitterand.
6. Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF)
Designed by contemporary architect Dominique Perrault, this huge library opened in 1996. The reading rooms are underground, while the books are housed in four glass towers — the shape of each tower is supposed to symbolize an open book.
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