Monday, February 26, 1996

The interior architecture of Paris fascinates me. Not the fa├žades of the classic buildings, the 19th century apartments with the wrought iron and the funny round windows in the roof. No. I am much more interested in the spaces inside, particularly where those spaces disintegrate into a weird, cramped collision of old and new: corridors, stairwells, bathrooms. Paris is a modern, explosive city inside an ancient, walled city; its first-world progress and growing population strain the tiny streets and low-rise blocks. The French obsession with preservation makes every building fragile, priceless. I feel a deep incongruity when I climb the steps of a McDonald's which is inside a bourgeois home that was built in 1860. The touch of the handle on the bathroom door thrills me further; inside, the plumbing and the mirrors and the tiles on the floor are shiny-new but the odd, slanted ceiling and rounded walls betray history.