Centre Pompidou: The nice monster of Paris

What exactly is the Centre Pompidou, in Paris better known as Beaubourg? A museum, yes, and one of the best in Paris. But also a library, some movie houses, a restaurant, shops, you name it. I love Beaubourg. And in short I would say it’s one of the most attractive spots in town, appealing to young and old. And even if you reach for your gun when you hear the word culture, Beaubourg is worth a visit simply for the breathtaking view it offers over Paris.

Beaubourg is strange: I wouldn’t say that the building is beautiful. It looks like a kind of space shuttle with red, green, yellow and blue tubes and ducts representing the metabolism of this urban living thing. The blue ones are for the air, the green ones for the water, yellow stands for electricity and red is the blood flowing through the building. In other words: you, the visitor in the escalators and lifts and everything that concerns communication.

It still works perfectly

Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and opened in 1977, the Centre Pompidou didn’t loose its modernity and still works perfectly. With several million visitors each year, the building is on the list of the most visited places in Paris, just after Notre-Dame, Tour Eiffel, Sacre Coeur and the Louvre.

People go there just to see the latest temporary exhibition, to view a film, to consult a book in the library, to meet friends, to listen to a lecture on arts, to dine in the fancy restaurant called “Georges”, one of the numerous addresses of the Costes brothers, where the view is better than the food. But so what, the décor is so hype, the waiters look like casted, that you better don’t care about what’s in your plate, but just feel part of the hype tribe.

A breathtaking view and a breathtaking collection

Beside being an attraction for itself, Beaubourg houses the national collection of modern art including paintings of the surrealists, the cubists as well as pop and contemporary art. Every year they proceed to do at least a partial rehang to show different works from a collection that counts more than 50,000 works. After big retrospectives of Alexander Calder, Kandinsky and an all-women show, it’s Matisse who’s on display right now.

When you visit for the permanent or a temporary exhibition, head to the ticket stalls on the ground floor, only then move further up to level four (art since 1960) or five (all the temporary exhibitions and works from 1905 until 1960). There are cheaper tickets, named “panorama tickest” (3 €) in case you just want to enjoy the view.

Centre Pompidou

Place Georges Pompidou

75004 Paris

01 44 78 12 33

Métro: Rambuteau or Hôtel de Ville

Open every day from 11am-9pm, on Thursay until 11pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

Photo: © AFP, Loic Venance, Boris Horvart, MAP