When it comes to architectural style, there are few cities more uniform than Paris. So much so, that when walking around the city, you pretty much expect to see wide plane tree-lined boulevards, bustling cafés and chic brasseries lining the streets. (Correct me if I’m wrong!) But because this is Paris, and well, the city is all about breaking the rules, cue: Pagoda Paris.
Pagoda Paris is more than a little bit of an anomaly when it comes to Parisian architecture. With its red painted façade and sloping roof, it’s worlds away from your typical 19th Century white-washed Haussmann building. Situated in the 8e arrondissement, not far from the tranquil Parc Monceau, you can’t miss this architectural gem on a visit to the city, if only to quickly capture it for Instagram! And besides, it’s little more than a ten minute walk from the Champs Élysées (meaning that there’s no excuse to miss it!)…
History of Pagoda Paris.
So the architecture is very beautiful; but what about the history of the Parisian Pagoda? Where did it come from? Perhaps not at all surprisingly, the Pagoda started off in 1880 as a classic 19th Century Haussmann building. Similar examples can be found surrounding the Paris Pagoda. However all this changed at the turn of the 20th Century.
In 1903, a wealthy art dealer by the name of Ching Tsai Loo moved to Paris. Somewhat ironically, Loo was also born in 1880, the same year in which his future house was constructed! Loo operated galleries across Paris and NYC and supplying American Museum collections by dealing in Chinese artefacts. He was widely criticised for removing prized artefacts from China and selling them off to the West.
Photo below: a portrait of Loo in the 1910s.
As soon as Loo arrived in the city of lights, he knew that he wanted to live just a stone’s throw away from Parc Monceau, but he also wanted to bring a piece of his roots (China) with him. In a time before building regulations and with vast wealth behind him, Loo easily made his dreams a reality. Albeit despite numerous complaints from angry neighbours! Loo’s dream became a reality and was finally completed in 1926. From then on, the Pagoda became the hub of his entrepreneurial endeavours.
However, following the death of Mr Loo in 1957, the business fell into swift decline. The family had no choice but to sell the building off to a private collector. In 2011, the Parisian Pagoda, refurbished due to a wealthy benefactor, operated as a private museum, hosting various events and parties.
During his lifetime, Mr Loo also amassed a large portfolio of prints, books and manuscripts. These invaluable records survive to this day.
Please note that the Paris Pagoda should not be confused with ‘le Pagode’, a popular cinema also in Paris.