History of Paris Architecture at the Musee d’Orsay
Needless to say a first visit to Musee d’Orsay will take you straight to the Monets and the Manets, the Renoirs and the Gaugins on the third floor, but during your next visit to the museum, don’t forget to visit the second level which describes much about Paris architecture. There’s a model of the Garnier Paris Opera House and descriptions of the ‘pecking order’ in Paris townhouses.
For example, the floor directly above ground level was known as the ‘noble floor’. Curiously, when we were looking for an apartment in Paris, friends told us to look for an apartment on the ‘first floor’ which in French is our ‘second’ floor i.e. the first floor above ground level.
The woman from whom we purchased our apartment was in fact ‘noble’ or an ‘aristo’. So, some traditions in Paris remain (probably accidentally). On a more practical basis, living on the ‘1st’ floor is very practical especially if there’s no elevator in your building or if the elevator is broken which is often the case.
Another important thing to know when looking for an apartment in Paris is to make sure a Metro stop is within convenient walking distance, and also that there is a grocery store, market or supermarket nearby. Hardware stores are much more difficult to find these days – the Quincaillerie. BHV (Bazar de Hotel de Ville, is the Mother of all Hardware Stores/Department Stores. Go to the basement level to find all sorts of gadgets and widjets. Metro: Hotel de Ville (located on the Rue de Rivoli side of the street)