There’s no doubt that Paris prides itself on its aesthetic. From homes to storefronts, government buildings and restaurants, the architecture is iconic. But Paris, like many of the world’s most famous and beautiful people, has a dark secret it probably doesn’t want you to know. Not all of those classic French facades are real.
After discovering that a door on the Rue Chapon was actually just an art installation, Youtuber The Tim Traveller decided to search the city for other fake buildings, and he found quite a few. In this video, he documents several facades in Paris that appear to be beautiful apartment or office buildings but which are actually architectural flimflam meant to disguise unsightly infrastructure like ventilation shafts and electrical substations.
The building at 29 rue Quincampoix, for example, looks real from afar but actually has painted-on windows. Its purpose is to hide the ventilation shafts from underground road tunnels. On 44 rue d’Aboukir, there appears to be a typical six-story Parisian building, but closer examination shows that it belongs to Paris’s public transport authority and was built to disguise a ventilation shaft for the metro. Similarly, at 145 rue la Fayette, a historic facade was preserved while the rest of the structure was demolished in the ‘80s to build a ventilation shaft. From the outside, the building looks like a classic French construction complete with windows and a balcony. Inside, well, there’s absolutely nothing.
Don’t let this realization change your view of Paris. If anything, it should give you a greater appreciation for the city’s lesser-known quirks.