Institut du Monde Arabe
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard - 75005 Paris
The symbolism is strong. Presented in 1987 by Jean Nouvel, Pierre Soria and their colleagues at the Architecture-Studio as a mix between the Arab culture and its French sister, this space marks a pact between France and 18 countries. The majestic Institute can be intimidating at first sight. Then it becomes enchanting. The north side faces the Seine and alludes to historic Paris, while you get a glimpse the Ile de la Cité. The southern facade is miraculous: 240 golden mashrabiyas – providing shade, and permitting us, to see without being seen - they open each hour, like so many eyes open to the world. Then, there is the Tower of Books, in white marble. The restaurant, on the seventh floor, provides a spectacular view. From the height of these pyramids – that is to say, this Institute – twenty centuries of history to contemplate.