Where to find the oldest house in Paris?

Keen to check out the oldest house in the City of Light? Here's how to find it.

Where to find the oldest house in Paris?
The facade of the oldest house in Paris. All photos: Lina Nordin
So which exactly is the oldest house in the historic city of Paris?

There has been years of debate on the topic, but experts apparently agree now on which takes the prize, according to Le Figaro newspaper.
Unsurprisingly the title has been given to a house that lies smack bang in the middle of the city. 
The building is located at number 51 Rue de Montmorency in the third arrondissement, not far from the Etienne Marcel Métro station (see map below).
Photo: Google Maps
The stone house is understood to date back over 600 years – and claims an interesting history indeed.
The building, which has been listed as a historical monument since 2011, was the first home of writer Nicolas Flamel.
If the name Nicolas Flamel sounds familiar to you, that's no surprise. The man became known after his death as one of the most famous alchemists in the world and was said to have created the Philosopher's Stone – “a legendary substance, allegedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold.”
Flamel's name crops up in popular culture from Harry Potter to the Da Vinci Code, and there's even a street in Paris named after him. 
Today, the stone house shows no sign of alchemy backgrounds at all, although signs (pictured above) indicate that it was the home of Flamel.
Text above the door reads: “We, ploughmen and women living at the porch of this house, built in 1407, are requested to say every day an 'Our Father' and an 'Ave Maria' praying God that His grace forgive poor and dead sinners.”
For those who are already planning on checking out the house, you won't have to travel much further to see what Le Figaro says is the second oldest house in Paris. 
Just five minute's walk away at 3 Rue Volta, close to the Arts et Métiers Métro stop in third arrondissement, stands a Chinese food shop that also dates back centuries. 
At the start of the first world war, experts dated the building back to the 13th century, which would have made it the oldest building in the city. 
However, new research has confirmed that it was actually built between 1644 and 1655, the paper reported.  
Of course, there are much older buildings in Paris if you want to continue your tour. 
The Notre Dame Cathedral, for example, dates back to 1163 and La Sorbonne university was completed in 1257.
If you're looking for something a little more “modern”, you can always try the Eiffel Tower from 1889, or you can jump into the 21st century and check out the Louis Vuitton Foundation that was designed by Frank Gehry and opened in 2014. 
The two oldest homes are just five minutes from each other. Photo: Google Maps

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Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.