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The sign above, at

The sign above, at the Abbesses Metro covering the scaffolding for the station's renovation, provided a good starting thought for yesterday's search to see more of Hector Guimard's art nouveau style. We retraced our steps of five years ago, repeating a walking tour of Guimard architecture that we had done on my first sabbatical. The Chardon-Lagache station in the 16th provided an unwrapped example of his most well-known work, the turn-of-the-century design for the Paris Metro system, with the natural, organic flower shapes of the sign obviously growing into the graceful lights, fluid metal work and warm green color of the Metro station on the left. But the 16th arrondissement has many Guimard buildings as well, and it was fun to spot them among the more traditional gray Paris buildings, with their bits of bright color, fluid lines and often, unusually shaped dormers at the top. I especially liked the colors and design of the numbers on the gateway of the Hotel Jassede, shown in the center photo. The first time we did this walk, we stopped before the end and entirely missed the most fantastic of Guimard's buildings, the Castel Beranger for which he won the first prize for facade design in 1898. Details of the front corner piece, shown in the final righthand photo, give an idea of the incredible amount of decoration which continues over every part of the building, as well as the numerous changes from buff brick and stone, to red brick and even to a blue-glazed brick below. Looking up, the delicate cutout of the eyelid window shade is doubled in the shadow it casts and I wonder what other interesting shadows it makes inside. We ended with coffee in the Guimard-designed Cafe Antoine and marveled over the beauty and attention to detail of all we'd seen during the day. Though it's very different from my usual style, I do love art nouveau.


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