Best Examples of Art Nouveau in Paris
Art Nouveau (new art) emerged by the end of the 19th century. As its name implies, this artistic movement wasn’t impacted by the past. While most other famous movements (Renaissance, Baroque…) had some connection to former influences, Art Nouveau was an entirely new concept of art. The style originated in England, from where it spread to the rest of Europe and the U.S.A.
Long sinuous lines and motifs from nature are main features of Art Nouveau. Because of its large decorative potential, it was applied in architecture and interior design. There is no doubt that Barcelona is the greatest treasurer of Art Nouveau thanks to Gaudi. However, Paris also prides on great architectural examples of this revolutionary movement. These are some of them:
Formerly known as “the house of devils”, Castel Beranger was originated during the final years of the 19th century. Located at 14 rue Jean de la Fontaine (the 16th district), the building is a must-see for any fan of architecture. In 1972, it was designated a historical monument.
Designed by Hector Guimard (1867-1942), Castel Beranger features plant and flower curves decorating balconies, which alternate with some Gothic elements. If you watch carefully, shapes of devils, credited for the structure’s nickname, won’t miss your eye. In the past, ladies passing by Castel Beranger crossed themselves because of them. Besides the ornamental ironwork, the building features glazed, red and grey bricks, wood, stained-glass and other fitting elements.
Once completed, Guimard’s building won the prize for the most beautiful façade in Paris in 1898.
Metro Porte Dauphine
Once he achieved acknowledgement for Castel Beranger, Guimard continued to create Art Nouveau structures throughout Paris. Metro Porte Dauphine, a terminus of line 2 in the 16th district (arrondissement), is another of his masterpieces.
Enclosed on three sides, the metro station is set in a nice, wooded environment. Glass sheets cover the inverted roof while three pillars support the entire structure. Other ornamental elements include garlands and an ocher background. Many people find that Metro Porte Dauphine is the most beautiful metro station in the capital of France.
Metro Abbesses has similarities with Metro Porte Dauphine. It features similar ironwork to the aforementioned metro station, but it isn’t as colorful and lacks panelling. Once you get under the glass roof, a spiral staircase with beautiful wall decoration takes you to the city’s deepest metro station. On the surface, though, you will admire the “I love you” wall behind the Art Nouveau masterpiece.
You can find Metro Abbesses at the base of Montmartre, in the 18th district of Paris.
Café Antoine, located on the opposite side of the street from Castel Beranger, is an ideal stop for a coffee break. And, of course, it is another Art Nouveau-style venue deserving a closer look. Its interior features an appealing design reminiscent of some old-fashioned café, allowing you to step back in time while enjoying your drink.
Hotel Elysees Ceramic
Located at 34 Avenue de Wagram, Hotel Elysees Ceramic features the award-winning façade. Floral patterns decorate walls of the slightly rounded frontage and the sculpted porch leads you inside the hotel. There, you will appreciate the Art Nouveau design, which is predominant throughout the hotel’s premises.
By entering the lobby, take a moment to observe the setting made of wood and marble. If you proceed to a lounge, examine cozy furniture set in a warm and pleasant ambiance. The lounge’s centerpiece is a fireplace, characteristic of the Art Nouveau movement. Finally, booking a hotel’s room brings forth subtle details any fan of this popular artistic style will enjoy.
33 rue du Champ de Mars
The nickname of the building at this address is “the house of the lilies”. It takes a single glance to understand why. Designed by architect Octave Raquin in 1901, the structure proves to be one of the most outstanding Art Nouveau jewels in Paris.
Besides exquisite floral patterns that gave it the name, this beautiful building also features ornamentation reminiscent of vegetables. Furthermore, the glass cover over the entrance looks pretty much like Hector Guimard’s covers over the aforementioned metro stations. Do take a closer look at doors and other ironwork if you like being mesmerized. Finally, don’t miss lilies carved out of stone between the windows on the ground floor.
To better perceive delicate details of the façade, you should plan to come here during the day rather than by the night.
29 Avenue Rapp
You can describe the structure at this address in many ways. It is eccentric, detailed, lavish and much more. The masterpiece of Jules Lavirotte (1864-1929) boasts an elaborate design comprising garlands of flowers and plants, shapes of animals, ceramics, pillars, sculptures and more.
This building has several stories and is densely decorated, so take your time to discover all the details. Start with the entrance doors and appreciate a portrait of a woman with a fur of a fox wrapped around her neck. Further examination should reveal reasons why Salvador Dali, a popular artist, found this structure’s façade the most erotic in Paris! Also, the structure was the winner of the Paris Façade competition in 1901.
12 rue Sedillot
The present building of the Italian lyceum Leonardo Da Vinci is another masterpiece of Jules Lavirotte. However, when you look at the structure, you will note the similarity between the fronts of this building and Castel Beranger. Since both structures were built at the same time, they doubtlessly influenced one another. With that in mind, it is curious that Guimard and Lavirotte never cooperated.
The resemblance of the lyceum and the Castel Beranger reflects itself through curves and metal doors decorating the façades. The main entrance of the building features a tower with a medieval-inspired ornamentation. Note the eccentric ironwork around the windows on the ground floor and the entrance. These are Lavirotte’s personal additions to the Art Nouveau style.
Square Rapp and Jules Lavirotte
This little square is another great achievement of the celebrated architect Lavirotte in Paris. Note the structure at the 3 Square Rapp address, although you are sure to notice the building first. It boasts a completely asymmetrical design, with every balcony and detail on the façade different from any other. Furthermore, the acclaimed Art Nouveau architect used to live on the building’s 5th floor.
Fine ironwork edges balconies and the stonework decorating the façade is very beautiful. A decorated iron gate provides access to the structure. Don’t hesitate to walk through it if the gate is open. And when you turn around, you will admire the view of the Eiffel Tower.
185 rue Belliard
The building located at this address is unlike any other previously described. What makes this one stand out is the decoration consisting of waterproof multi-colored ceramics. Besides its interesting façade, this Art Nouveau structure standing next to the crossroad follows the shape of the intersection.
Blue squares line the windows vertically while adjacent ceramics form patterns similar to Star of David located within the circle. The ground floor features a frieze comprising blue, dark green and orange ceramics. Albeit conceived as a modern (built in 1913), this structure also has a medieval touch. You can examine this one over the entrance, depicting the architect (Henri Deneux, 1874-1969) using his tools while planning the construction. If you had a pleasure to examine medieval stained-glass windows, this detail doesn’t differ too much from those.
Other examples of Art Nouveau in Paris
To appreciate the Art Nouveau architecture in the City of Lights in full, you should tour the city’s 7th and 16th districts. Best examples of Art Nouveau in Paris await you in the 7th districts, with some of them elaborated in this article. But, if you prefer “quantity over quality” or have additional time, find your way to the 16th district.