One criticism that I’ve heard levelled against Paris, time and time again, is that it’s basically a living museum, devoid of architectural innovation. Granted, its strict conservation laws have stopped a great deal of the development, which would bring it more in line with other modern metropolises. That being said, I don’t see that as being a particularly bad thing. Personally, I think part of Paris’ charm is that it hasn’t become one of those cities with a hodgepodge of skyscrapers marking the skyline.
I do, however, strongly contest that Paris is stuck in time. If anything, I think it has progressed into the modern age while holding onto its unique character. Indeed, there has been a sense of renewal and change quietly going on for many years. My part of Paris – the Dixième – is a fine example of this. Since moving here, close to a decade ago, we’ve noticed many new boutiques, speciality shops and restaurants taking over, and in turn the area has become ever so more bobo – bourgeois-bohemian.
This boboification has expanded even as far as Barbès, traditionally an area known for its cheapness and dubious character, especially around the metro station. It started a few years ago with the refurbishment of the Louxor cinema, which was protested against at the time by those who feared that it would, quite rightly as it turns out, start the process of gentrification in that area. A bright new shiny bistro, which wouldn’t look out of the place in the centre of Paris, has since popped up across from the cinema, with more places now under renovation.