Art Deco : The French art of living
More than Culture, Art Deco influenced all areas of French society. This particular style can be found today in housing, swimming pools, gardens and even bars and restaurants!
The 1930s saw the improvement of living conditions in France. This involved construction of new places to meet, have fun, play sport and live. Housing for workers was created in Paris and its suburbs. 100% Art Deco HBMs (cheap housing) and ‘Garden Cities,’ whose great simplicity of shapes were the perfect answer to housing problems. Discover these buildings in Pré-Saint-Gervais, the heart of Henri Sellier’s Garden City, as well as the Suresnes Garden City, another creation by Henri Sellier. There are still as many as fifteen Garden Cities to discover all around Paris. In a more luxurious style, you can admire the Renard mansion, in Boulogne-Billancourt, created by the architect Jean-Léon Courrèges and inhabited by André Malraux for nearly twenty years. Do not miss either the facade of the town hall in Puteaux, highlighted by an imposing colonnade built in front of its bay windows. And the Martel brothers’ villa, in the 16th district, with its large stained glass window by Barillet illuminating the central tower and its ironwork door with diagonal alternating lines by Jean Prouvé.
Other places of interest, but dedicated to sport: swimming pools. Attached to the HBM in the Rue des Amiraux, the pool of the same name was built by Henri Sauvage. Above the pool, a two-story passageway opens directly onto the changing rooms in a ‘cruise ship’ style. The ornamental tiles are similar to those used in the Parisian Metro. The same architecture is evident at the swimming pool in Butte aux Cailles (13th district) and Molitor (14th district), both of which are being renovated until 2014, and that of Pantin, which remains open. In Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Lutetia swimming pool has also changed. Classified as an historic monument in 2005, the work of architect Lucien Béguet has become a luxury Hermès boutique. Do not hesitate to visit this extraordinary place!
For nature lovers, the Jardin d’hiver, the big cat house and the tropical greenhouse of the Jardin des Plantes are also gems of Art Deco. Regarding restaurants, the Brasserie La Coupole is another jewel of this style, a key venue in the history of Montparnasse, in the 14th district. The pilasters were painted by 27 different artists. You can see pillars covered with Lap, a material evoking marble, Cubist-inspired mosaics as well as panelling in lemon wood and chandeliers by master glassmaker Jean Perzel. Also included in the inventory of historical monuments, the Prunier restaurant in the 16th district will amaze you with its Art Deco marine inspired decoration by Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, its inlaid gold diamonds on black marble, its geometric glass engravings on copper and its intense blue mosaics.