Architecture in France
France, the country of sophistication, whether in food, fashion or architecture, France has always been at the forefront of elegance. From chateaus to cathedrals, villas to lodges, the depth and breadth of this country can never be summed up in one style. Its most famous buildings are of course in Paris, the Notre Dame, Louvre and last but not least, the Eiffel Tower.
Landscape of France
Frances landscape ranges from mountain plateaux to lush farmlands, traditional villages to chic boulevards. France belongs to both the north and the south of Europe. Brittany with its maritime heritage, the Mediterranean Sunbelt, the Germanic Alsace-Lorraine, and the hardy mountain regions of Pyrenees.
Romanesque and Gothic
Over the centuries, France has been at the forefront of architectural innovation, rich in medieval architecture, ranging from Romanesque churches to Gothic cathedrals. France Romanesque buildings have thick walls, round arches and heavy vaults. French arch improved this and lead to the blossoming of the Gothic era in the 13th century. Pointed arches and flying buttresses were the key inventions that allowed for taller buildings with larger windows.
During the Renaissance, the French borrowed from the Italian to create lavish Chateaux. In the 1600s, the French brought exuberance to the elaborate Baroque style. Neoclassicism was popular in France until about 1840, followed by a revival of Gothic.
Beaux Arts, a new trend, was an elaborate, highly decorated fashion, inspired by many ideas from the past. Art Nouveau originated in France in the 1880s. Art Deco was born in Paris in 1925. Then came the various modern movements, with France solidly in the lead with the father of Modernism, Le Corbusier, whose work is reminiscent throughout France.
Modern French architecture has just as much influence today as historic architecture does. France has also been at the forefront of modern architecture, with its innovative use of technology, from The Institut du Monde Arabe by Jean Nouvel to the Louis Vitton Foundation by Frank Gehry.
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Cities to Visit