Two Faced: The Charm of Repurposed Buildings in Paris

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Two Faced: The Charm of Repurposed Buildings in Paris
The idea of repurposing antiquated buildings in a city may seem somewhat callous – somewhere, a city planner must decide on behalf of their regional metropolis that the building’s original purpose is redundant. It’s a decision driven by several concerns and postulations. Modernization and industrialization are arguably the biggest drivers of change which tend to signal that the technology has advanced more quickly than the buildings are designed to withstand. Our shifting criteria for what we deem an aesthetically pleasing building is another motivation for bringing about change – albeit this is arguably a more superficial reason which indulges in our discerning eye for our subjective standards of beauty. Nevertheless, rethinking the purpose of a building seems less ruthless then demolishing it altogether. Urban enthusiasts might even postulate that it gives a city a fresh look – a new identity, though the foundations of the building remain identical, bound up in the history of our ancestors. The repurposing of our urban edifices offers a city a second lease of life while preserving the vestiges of the pre-modern era. It gives tourists an excuse to revisit that city – and gives locals a renewed appreciation of their neighborhood that is adaptable to the changing social and political space around them. Musée des Arts et Métiers. Photo credit: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia commons Paris has had its fair share of medieval revamps. With the enviable cultural accolade of the world’s museum capital boasting a staggering 130 different exhibition spaces – a large portion of the French capital’s museums started off their lives playing an alternative role within city life. The Musée des Arts et Métiers, for example, started off as a Romanesque-Gothic church and monastery which was renovated in the late 1900s and now functions as a repository of industrial inventions. The Musée de Cluny was a gothic mansion dating back to the 15th century and the townhouse of the Abbot of Cluny. Today it houses an impressive medieval art collection. In this way, the city’s museums are not just guardians of relics, but relics in and of themselves. Here are my picks of the French capital’s most characterful repurposed buildings. Musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen Âge © Alexis Paoli, OPPIC
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Lead photo credit : Photo by Mihail Ribkin on Unsplash

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Claudia lived in Paris for six months during a year abroad which she did as part of her French and Spanish degree at Durham University. With a penchant for all things culture, languages, food and flânerie, she quickly discovered why it is that the French capital is so widely celebrated. While she was in Paris, she started writing for Ma Vie Francaise, an online-based publication about Francophone cultures. After completing an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City, University of London last year, she’s currently working as an editorial intern at Monocle Magazine, a globally-minded publication which focuses on culture, urbanism and business. Her favorite Parisian hidden gem is the Musée de la Vie Romantique, and if you’re a gourmand(e), she recommends paying a visit to the Rue des Martyrs.