chapter  4
20 Pages

Paris: From the Legacy of Haussmann to the Pursuit of Cultural Supremacy

ByPaul White

Peter Hall’s classifi cation in Chapter 2 places Paris in the fi rst rank as a Multi-Function Capital, and in this respect other French cities offer no competition – whether in terms of business, education, or culture. However, claims can also be made for Paris as a ‘Super-Capital’ whose infl uence stretches far beyond the general internal control and external gate-keeping roles of capital cities. In the later years of the nineteenth century, Paris was seen as the capital of the Belle Époque, with a reputation and prestige that were world-wide. Urban design associated with the Second Empire (1852-1870) was of considerable signifi cance in making Paris the exemplar of what became known as the ‘City Beautiful’.3 In a number of ways, Paris has also served as a ‘model’ capital for the rest of the world.4 As will be seen later, the end of the twentieth century saw arguments within France to reassert Paris’s role on a wider stage, particularly in terms of the

opportunity for the city to take its place as the capital of Europe – if not in political or economic terms then in relation to culture and prestige.5