Monday, May 21, 2012
Paris may be famous for historical landmarks and heritage sites such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles and the Arc de Triomphe, but it is just as notable for its modern architecture. Some of the most striking and interesting buildings in the French capital were designed and constructed after the turn of the 20th century.
 
Visitors can embark on a tour of Paris to see some of its impressive modern structures and learn more about the city's artistic and cultural heritage along the way.

 
Centre Georges Pompidou
The Centre Georges Pompidou is a complex located in the Beaubourg area in the fourth arrondissement that was designed by a team of collaborators including celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano and British structural engineer Edmund Happold.
 
It was designed in the high-tech architecture style and is distinguished by exposed structural elements including pipes, ducts and wires. 
 
The centre is home to a large public library and the biggest modern art museum in Europe, which in recent years has hosted exhibitions of work by the likes of Edvard Munch, Lucian Freud and Wassily Kandinsky.

 
The Louvre Pyramid
While the Musee du Louvre - the most visited art museum in the world - was opened in the late 18th century, arguably its most distinctive feature was not unveiled until 1989. The large glass and metal pyramid that stands in the main courtyard of the museum palace now serves as the main entrance to the attraction and has become an instantly recognisable symbol of Paris.
 
The development was commissioned by French president Francois Mitterrand in the 1980s and designed by Chinese-American architect IM Pei, whose other creations include the Miho Museum in Japan and part of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
 
After admiring the museum's impressive exterior, art lovers can head into the Louvre to see masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

 
La Grande Arche de la Defense
Situated in La Defense, a business district to the west of central Paris that is known for its high-rise offices and modern buildings, La Grande Arche is one of a series of monuments and structures that form the Voie Triomphale, or Triumphal Way.
 
Like the Louvre Pyramid, La Grande Arche is the result of a project initiated by President Mitterrand, who launched a competition in 1982 inviting proposals for a 20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe.
 
The winning entry came from Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and his compatriot Erik Reitzel, an engineer, who came up with a 110-metre-high structure taking the approximate shape of a cube made from concrete, glass and marble.

 
Cite de la Musique
The Cite de la Musique is one of the most striking modern buildings in Paris. It comprises a group of musical institutions and is located in La Villette, a district of the city's 19th arrondissement that is also home to the Parc de la Villette.
 
Christian de Portzamparc, a French architect who won the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1994, came up with the distinctive design for the complex, which opened in 1995.
 
Travellers can visit the attraction to attend musical concerts or see some of the highlights from its collection, such as the Erard piano played by Franz Liszt, Django Reinhardt's guitar and a Stradivarius violin.

 
Sacre-Coeur Basilica
Construction of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica concluded in 1914 and the church was consecrated in 1919, a time that was marked by a new sense of optimism and vitality in Paris following the end of World War I.
 
Designed by French architect Paul Abadie, the building has political and cultural relevance as well as a clear religious significance as a Roman Catholic church.
 
The basilica is situated at the summit of Montmartre, a hill which gives its name to the surrounding district. The area is worth exploring on a trip to Paris owing to its cultural associations, with artists such as Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh all having lived or worked there in the past.