The centre may be for the most part the same as it was when Georges-Eugène Haussmann introduced his planning reforms in the 1850s, but in other parts of Paris all kinds of interesting things are happening. La Défense, to the north-west of the centre, is the city’s business district and has the highest concentration of skyscrapers of any urban area in Europe. Since the 1980s the most striking of these has been La Grande Arche, which is brilliantly and thoughtfully designed so that it lines up with the Arc de Triomphe and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, whose name I never knew before today, meaning that if you stand in the Tuileries gardens you can look straight through all three of them, over a distance of several miles.
But today inhabitat has designs for a new, ecologically-minded skyscraper which is about twice the height of the Grande Arche (though still smaller than the Eiffel Tower – some things are sacred) and which looks great. I’m very happy to live in a time when people have discovered that buildings don’t have to be square or rectangular. We’re building pyramids and pods as well as star-shaped cities and Teletubby houses. It all makes London’s shard of glass seem almost pedestrian.