Being a design enthusiast is a restless hobby. You’re constantly looking for the best atmosphere, the nicest view, the craziest, boldest architecture, simply put, the best go-to design spots. Luckily, Paris has become, over the centuries, one of the global landmarks when it comes to design, architecture and arts.
Of course, there are the well-known: l’Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, or le Sacré Coeur. But if you want a more in-depth dive into the Parisian design and architecture world, much more remains to be discovered. The good news is, all of the address that follows are easy to get to, whether you know the city well, or not. Below is a list of all the design sanctuaries you must visit when in Paris.
Philharmonie de Paris, Jean Nouvel
Its construction has been postponed for 20 years, as the Jean Nouvel design needed to embody the national French music institution. And the institution was being rebuilt from the ground up, quite literally. The building was officially opened in 2015. It serves as a concert hall, mainly for symphonic music, but the venue is also a hub for jazz and contemporary world music enthusiasts. Philharmonie is part of a greater ensemble called La Cité de la Musique. It is located in the 19è arrondissement, in the north east end of the capital.
221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Frank Gehry
The building is fairly recent and it’s actually is the youngest place on this list. But in terms of importance and originality, this iconic architectural piece has its place amongst the world’s finest design hubs. In 2006, Bernard Arnault reached out to American genius architect Frank Gehry. And it was he who picked up on the boldness the French maison have been displaying in its history. He wanted to build a timeless masterpiece that both stands out and fits in the greenery of Bois de Boulogne, in the north west part of Paris. For many fashionistas this is definitely one of the go-to design spots in Paris.
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris
Pyramide du Louvre, IM Pei
Even for its own entrance, the Louvre couldn’t be just like any other building. The “Pyramide”, designed by the late Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei was built in the mid-1980s. Later to be commissioned by late French president François Mittérand. The goal at the time was to sublime the Napoléon courtyard. But also to be able to bear uninterrupted flows of visitors to the museum, without sacrificing any light. Thirty years later, the monument is arguably iconic (and is always a good excuse to catch up with the Mona Lisa).
Pyramide du Louvre, 75001 Paris
Tour Eiffel, Gustave Eiffel
The iconic metal structure wasn’t supposed to exist for more than a year. Now 130 years later, it’s still standing. The Eiffel Tower, as you may know, was built for the 1889 fair in Paris. It was initially met with heavy skepticism. Fast forward more than a dozen decades later… Standing tall at 324 metres high, the monument has practically become the unofficial French capital logo and gleefully serves as a flagship for French extravaganza. The Eiffel Tower has got more than views to offer. Two high end restaurants — double starred chef Thierry Marx is operating there since 2018 — taking over after Ducasse’s 10 year legacy inside the landmark.
Champs de Mars, 5 avenue Anatole France
Les Docks de la Cité de la Mode et du Design, Jakob + MacFarlane
The green exoskeleton that came straight out of the minds of architects Jakob + MacFarlane, serves as an updated frame for the century-old building. It also makes the City of Fashion and Design as striking as it is inventive. Its location is crucial: right on the edge of the Seine! Surrounded by three train stations, the former industrial hub was, in the early 2000s, turned into a creative core that focuses on fashion and design — for the most part, as party animals know the place well too! The vicinity has also served as a Fashion Week venue, but would you really doubt that one of the ultimate go-to design spots wouldn’t be?
34 Quai d’Austerlitz, 75013 Paris
Palais de Tokyo
Design lovers know the place well… Home to two museums, a restaurant, a plaza and a night club, Palais de Tokyo serves as a platform for every popular, contemporary movement. Artists, musicians and photographers have occupied its spaces in very creative manners. And the direction really knows how to surprise its young, demanding crowd, with a very well curated programming.
13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris
Located only a few hundred metres away from the City of Fashion and Design, Bibliothèque Française Nationale, or BFN is the place where France’s archives are located. It also serves as a wonderful plaza that’s perfect for enjoying the nice weather. With a spectacular view — right on the right bank and the Seine. Its modern, almost brutalist architecture, serves as one of the most instagrammable places.
Quai François Mauriac, 75706 Paris