latin quarter, Maps

Deceptively Skinny Paris Buildings

You either love or hate the uniformity of Parisian buildings, where about 60% of what you see is characterized as the classic architectural style “Haussmann”. The typical six story creamy stone facades with wrought iron details are as synonymous to the idealized image of Paris as the Eiffel Tower and baguettes. Sure the city could use a bit more PIZAZZ but there are quite a few architectural oddities if you know where to look for them. My favorites are the deceptively skinny buildings you can find in the 15th, 12th, and 5th arrondissements Known in French as “façades bègues”. 

Rue Gay Lussac, Paris 5

Depending on the angle you are viewing them from, you might have the impression they are part of a Hollywood-esque movie set or the homes of ex-Victoria Secret models or Matthew McConaughey circa ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ until you change your perception and realize all is not as it seems.

Rue Monge Paris 5

There are a few reasons for this! 1. The architect simply had to make do with a narrow piece of land

Rue Beauregard, Paris 2. Photo Paris Zig Zag. This building dates to the second half of the 17th century and is known as the Pointe Trigano. It is considered the narrowest building in Paris

2. There used to be another building or structure that was previously adjoined but has since been removed, leaving the existing building awkwardly exposed. 

Rue Charonne Paris 12. Photo Paris Zig Zag

One perfect example is in the Latin Quarter at 14 rue Thouin, where this curious building dating from 1688 once leaned upon the fortified defensive wall built by Philippe Auguste that encircled Paris from 1190 until it was mostly destroyed in the late 17th century. If you can manage to sneak to the back when the gate is open, it’s possible to still see remnants of this wall today. 

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