Friday, November 16, 2007

Parisian Layers

Paris is a city of layers, many of which you can see right before your eyes. This building on the rue Francois Miron demonstrates this principle well. It dates from the early 16th century, but its earliest components go back to the 14th century. Restored in the late 1960s, it remains one of the few surviving examples of Medieval domestic architecture in the city. Of course it's surrounded by much more modern construction from the 19th and 20th centuries -- hence the layers.

Throughout Paris, the mixture of old and new stands out, especially as I've seen a number of restaurants which have recently been remodeled and are shiny with glass and metal. My visit to the Quai Branly museum (about which I wrote a few weeks ago) reinforced that sense of the new. But there are still plenty of old buildings which have stood for centuries.

Still, I often think that people, especially tourists, focus on the old and the historic without realizing that Paris is a modern, growing city which often needs new construction. Just like every city, Paris is changing, even though many people still like to imagine it stuck in the past. But, even with all the change, the past remains, and it presents itself in buildings like this one.

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