Monday, February 26, 1996

The interior architecture of Paris fascinates me. Not the façades 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.