There are few buildings, fortunately, that stir up such contradictory feelings within me as Beaubourg – Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Indeed, on the one hand, Beaubourg – Centre Pompidou may epitomize what I hate the most in modern architecture: when some proud architect and some full-of-himself politician unite to “revive” an old and beautiful place with some new building with highly conceptual architecture which only a few pedantic will understand and admire while the vast majority will only wonder how such a monstrosity can have come to any sane persons. From the outside, in my opinion, it just looks like some creation made of pipes, metal bars and air ducts that some engineer wannabe kid could have built, and it can’t compare with the old medieval buildings and Saint-Merry church nearby.
However, on the other hand, I must confess that despite my lack of understanding for the architecture of the place, there’s something I can’t help liking. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, which is always happy in this busy and agitated place : there will always be some street show, lovers walking by, tourists, people enjoying their afternoon at the terrasse of a café… The place is one of the most lively in Paris. It has a certain authenticity that I often find lacking in the city.
Furthermore, the museum is quite interesting, even if you don’t like modern arts. There are some great pieces of art from many different countries, times and artistic movements. everything is very well explained, and you can form an informed opinion on what you see, instead of hasty judgement, even though you might not find what you see convincing.
Last, the cherry on the icing of the cake is the access to the rooftop of Centre Pompidou : the view from there is absolutely stunning, and I daresay it’s one of the best in Paris. If you don’t have the time to visit the museum, you can even still access it against a 3€ entry fee : quite a bargain. From up there, you can see Montmartre, The Eiffel Tower, Saint-Jacques Tower, and, above all, Notre-Dame de Paris : memorable and unmissable !
If you ever come to Paris, make sure to save some time to visit the museum, its surroundings and, of course, its rooftop, which offers one of the best views of Paris, especially at sunset.