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Paris Architecture - tours or guides you can recommend?

Paris Architecture - tours or guides you can recommend?

Old May 29th, 2016, 08:17 AM
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Paris Architecture - tours or guides you can recommend?

Since Kerouac Parisian Tours does not exist (at least not yet, but one can dream), we are looking for a recommendation on a guide or tour that would give us more information on the many different types of architecture in Paris. I remember reading a book a few years ago that pointed out a few buildings that escaped Hausmann's "renovation" and that would be of interest.

We don't know much about architecture and I couldn't tell you the difference between gothic and Romanesque. We would certainly like to learn and understand a bit more about the many different types of architecture seen throughout Paris. After 5-6 visits to Paris, we are looking to dig in and learn more about what we are seeing.

My husband (Mr Starbucks, as some of you may know him) took an architectural tour in Chicago that he really enjoyed and we thought Paris would be a great place to do something similar (even if it is not on the Seine).

I think Context offers something...anyone have experience with them? Michael Osman? We don't mind a small group but not into a large tour group.

Ideas and suggestions welcome and any architectural "gems" that you know and love and are willing to share, will be most appreciated!
denisea is offline  
Old May 29th, 2016, 08:25 AM
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I would highly recommend Michael Osman. We tour with hime once to twice every trip.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 08:39 AM
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Kerouac knows nothing about architecture but is always on the lookout for unusual sights.

I presume you've seen my photos of Paris not looking like Paris?


And then there's "industrial architecture transformed."


Haussmannian architecture is lovely but there is more than enough of it.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 09:04 AM
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I've been on a few Context Travel tours and can recommend them highly. The group tours are limited to 6 people, but if you want to have a private tour specifically-designed around architecture, and led by an architect or art-historian, this is available.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 12:07 PM
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You might want to see what Paris Greeters might offer if you indicate you are interested in architecture. The local guide I had in March told me that her specialty is architecture and that she does a tour in the 16th with Paris Greeters on architecture (her name is Martine). It was with her that I toured the covered passages.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 12:24 PM
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Kerouac---thanks for posting these links. You do have an eye for the unusual and the unique. I refuse to believe you know nothing about architecture...I think you know a lot about a lot.

Good to know about Context and Michael Osman and I had not thought of Paris Greeters...exactly why I asking!! We have only done one tour in Paris and that was last time for a food & wine tour (shocking, I know).
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Old May 29th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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I also highly recommend Michael Osman.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 03:05 PM
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I looked at the Context itinerary and it looks decent but I only saw 3 types -- one that focused on Modernist period, one that focused on Gothic, one combining Medieval art and architecture, and another that talked about Hausmann (which is really urban planning, not architecture). I'm sure they will point out a few buildings. They look good.

I don't think you could find a tour that would cover all architectural periods in Paris' history, it just wouldn't be possible to do that in a few hours, it would cover too much of the city as different areas are the best focus of certain styles of historical reasons and the way the city developed. I would expect tours to focus on categories such as Gothic/Medieval, Beaux Arts, Art Nouveau, and Modernist or something along those lines, not to include them all in one tour. Paris Greeters doesn't do tours by request of a specific itinerary nor something requiring that kind of knowledge, AFAIK.

They used to have some excellent guidebooks for sale in the Musee d'Orsay that covered various DIY walks of specific architectural interests. I bought this there: http://www.powells.com/book/architec...-9782707118530
That one "book" included folders/maps for these 6 different walks (it wasn't really a book, just a collection of those:
1) Guimard and Art Nouveau
2) Social Housing in Menilmontant
3) Glass and Iron around the Bourse
4) Art deco Passy and Auteuil
5) Studios in Montparnasse
6) The Petite Ceinture route
It's in English, also.

I would think (1) of primary interest, the others are a bit more fringe. You can find maps of an Art nouveau walk online, I believe (in the 16th, of course). Hre is a good list of the top Art Nouveau buildings in Paris http://artnouveau.pagesperso-orange....ris/bestof.htm

Here's a walking tour on Art Nouveau, which seems missing from Context, which is surprising as I'd expect that to be more popular than Modernist.
It appears to be this company doing it http://www.ajourneyinparis.com/

There aren't a lot of great specimens of Art Deco in Paris, one of my favorites is the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, and of course there is the Rex theater and the Palais de Chaillot.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 04:43 PM
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We did a Paris Greeter tour on our last trip. I requested to see more of the double digit arrondissments. I said we weren't interested in architecture, gardens, and unusual sites.

Our guide did a great job. We spent some time in 11th, but mostly in the 13th.

Hghly recommend giving them a try.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 04:38 AM
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Thanks all.

Christine, I agree about the impossibility of seeing all types of architecture in one tour. We definitely would not be expecting that but it would be nice to be shown a few examples in one tour for comparison and it may not be possible (except in my mind). I appreciate the links!

Curious, DebitNM, what did you see with the Paris Greeter tour? You mentioned you were not interested in architecture, gardens and unusual sites. So, I am intrigued by what you were shown on the tour in the 13th.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 05:38 AM
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I also reccommend Michael Osman,he is a great private guide . He ia a graduate of the Pa. schoo of art and knows his stuff and out of the way places.He's lived in Paris for years and his charges are reasonable. One price for the whole group and he has no set time limit he won't stop until you are ready.He is on facebook and has a website of his own, Parisfind.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 06:22 AM
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oh my - that was a typo! We WERE interested....
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Old May 30th, 2016, 07:37 AM
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Well, now it makes sense Debit.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 07:39 AM
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The thing most people appreciate about the ParisGreeters tours is that you get to meet and spend time with a chatty local resident - plus, it's free (unless you buy him/her lunch or drinks).

The problem is that the company matches you with someone who is available during your preferred dates - a local who lives in the area and is supposed to know it well. You might end up in any arrondissement, with someone who might not be well-informed about architecture and history, which might not be what you want.

For free, I'd do some Googling for DIY walking tours and make a nice day of it without a local leading me around where I might not want to go. Frommer's, Fodor's, Un Jour de Plus a Paris all have good DIY tours. You will need a good map, as well - one with all the streets, like "Paris Pratique, L'Indispensable"

For a paid tour, I'd recommend Context. The difficulty is that - with the exception of the Haussmannien areas - there is a lot of mixed architecture in most of the central arrondissements. If you don't have an experienced guide to explain the history behind why some buildings were left standing and others disappeared, you won't get much out of the tour.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 01:45 PM
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Architecture of Paris by Andrew Ayers

Not an easy "carry with" but more a reference to study before you arrive. Map your tour from that. I like it because it's arranged by arrondissement much like the French publications available at Le Pavillon de l’Arsenal which has a excellent bookstore.

You might like to visit there too.

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Old May 30th, 2016, 02:13 PM
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I just googled "paris architecture walk" and found lots of results, notably one from a company that specializes in architectural walks:

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Old May 30th, 2016, 03:45 PM
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Thanks. I have googled for this but am looking for some validation of what is out there to hopefully weed out the less than stellar options. Will check out the link FMT.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 03:55 PM
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Good luck denisea.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 04:21 PM
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Just as an aside, the page I linked to is aimed at architects and architectural firms and they have a pretty extensive list on their website of their past clients. Though their reviews on the web may be limited and difficult to find it is fairly obvious that they have worked with a fairly large number of architectural firms/institutions/agencies etc.

I'll also add that there are a number of books and websites that can help you do your own self-guided walk. I know you are looking for some expertise from a good guide to take the guess work out of it for you and guide you around but there is a lot to learn on your own that is easy to find. I was a residential real estate appraiser in the U.S. for 20 years and have a pretty good eye for associating architectural styles and details with dates and such. Just reading about Paris architecture I've learned quite a bit about architectural styles in Paris and can usually guess the date of construction of most buildings in Paris within about 20 years, plus or minus, just by looking at them, if they were built after around 1750 or so. A lot of stuff built prior to around the mid 18th century is fairly similar in construction style as building methods remained more or less the same for centuries up until around this time. Though this applies to mostly your average construction and certainly when it comes to hôtels particuliers and other residences of the upper classes style differences are more evident prior to this time. I could go on and on because this is something that interests me but I'm rambling now so I'll just end it here.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 06:15 PM
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I didn't know you had a real estate background. Maybe you should start tours of your own! The great thing about Paris is that there is always something unique and of interest around every corner.
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