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Destinations · Europe · france · Paris · Things to do ·

Things To Do

Author: Gunita Kakteniece0 COMMENTS

Things To Do

A Walk in Auteuil

Auteuil is one of the best kept secrets of Paris. Even those who have visited the French capital on numerous occasions are often surprised upon learning of the existence of the charming neighbourhood. Auteuil is hiding slightly outside the borders of the classical city centre of Paris; to get there, you do have to take a short ride on the metro. However, once you get there, the small jungle of tiny streets can easily be explored in an hour and a half. The neighbourhood seems to have been trapped in a time warp: the Art Nouveau mansions of the old Paris, complete with verdant roof gardens; affluent ladies walking their little lapdogs - the ultimate feel of the previous turn of the century. This is no Eiffel Tower or Champs-Élysées where throngs of curious tourists start swarming early in the morning. Everything is a bit different here. Auteuil seems to have been created for those who are excited by architecture and their own desire to capture the flavour of the well-to-do suburban Paris.

The most famous landmark of the remote district must definitely be Villa La Roche designed by the famous classic of Minimalism Le Corbusier. The building, erected in 1924 as a commission from the art collector Raul La Roche, is an excellent example of early Modernist architecture: white concrete, geometrically precise cubic shapes and a simplicity that was perceived as revolutionary at the time. The unique building, currently undergoing renovation, is temporarily closed to visitors. The re-opening is scheduled for summer 2009.
However, the Auteuil maze of streets is hiding countless other gems, for instance, the lovely Place Jean-Lorrain; the square, home to the local market, is centred by a 19th-century drinking fountain, a gift from the British millionaire Sir Richard Wallace.

The route then takes you to the right, to Rue La Fontaine, the most important street of this impromptu tour; the street is famous for its buildings designed by Guimard: it is Art Nouveau; however, the strikingly original style of the architect begs to be compared to Gaudí himself - because of the light flowing lines, not the multicoloured mosaics. The style is not as radical and vivid as that of the great Catalan master; nevertheless, Guimard was also very fond of rounded forms. Some of his creations are truly astonishing - slightly outlandish, perhaps, yet perfect for the location. The most impressive one is Guimard's Castel Béranger with its sublime iron gate. Originally the building was constructed as an apartment house, using only cheap leftover materials. However, stained-glass windows and balconies are featured abundantly.
Do not miss the fabulously charming little cafe a stone's throw from Castel Béranger. The tiny eatery, open since 1911, has not changed the smallest detail in its decor - neither the old tile floor, nor the metal counter. During the day, apart from a couple of ladies with their lapdogs, enjoying their mid-day cup of coffee, the cafe is almost empty; the fact does not in the slightest detract from the special lovely atmosphere.

As you turn left from Rue La Fontaine, your eyes are caught by the somewhat heavy Maison de Radio-France, a building constructed in 1963 to meet the needs of French state radio and television. Proceed along Rue de l'Assomption to find yourself in Place Rodin (you do have to turn into a side-street first) adorned by L'Age d'Airain (The Age of Bronze), a bronze nude by Auguste Rodin. Another side-street, Avenue Mozart, is famous for its late 19-th century bourgeois apartment houses; Avenue des Chalets, on the other hand, is the place to go if you feel like taking a look at a row of typical Parisian recreation villas. Then - the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Neo-Renaissance church at the very end of Rue de l'Assomption - and finally take a left turn into Rue du Docteur Blanche featuring a number of International Modern-style buildings designed by the architect Mallet-Stevens; now the above-mentioned Le Corbusier building and a number of other gems - an elegant 20th-century Neo-Classicist living house and several masterpieces by Guimard - are just a few steps away.

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