Change is hard. Especially on the French. Some Royalists are still calling for the return of the crown.
Others continue lamentations of how Monsieur Haussmann (Baron was a borrowed title) ruined all of Paris with his massive public works projects a few years ago…you know, around 1870. And how about those who begged for the Eiffel Tower to be torn down? French writer, Guy de Maupassant, famously said [paraphrasing], “I eat at the Eiffel Tower every night for it is the only place I can escape seeing it.”
No wonder then the all the conjecture, controversy and brasserie blabbering about what LVMH, a $209 billion French enterprise, has done to the Paris landscape.
LMVH’s Louis Vuitton Foundation building, which opened October 2014, was commissioned by famed architect, Frank Gehry. The building sits now in the Jardin d’Acclimatisation which was France’s first amusement park. It opened in 1860 and was envisioned by Napoleon III but executed by Haussmann. The Jardin is now home to an egg-like art exhibition building. No less than 30 patents were designed and approved just to manufacture the building’s complex angles which Gehry intended to look like sails. Then along came French artist, Daniel Buren, who last year was hired to “complete the building” as he saw fit. Buren covered Gehry’s iconic glass panes with colors. Debate will never cease whether to praise or blame LVMH, Gehry or Buren for this building.
Here are photos, talk amongst yourselves:
On the other side of town between Quai du Louvre and the Rue de Rivoli, LVMH is undertaking a 500 million Euro renovation of the Samaritaine building. Even with the façade of the building covered, the imminent unveiling of this structure already has people angry. “It will not look like Paris”, is the general complaint. I told you. Change is hard.
The once empty and condemned Samaritaine building will house hotels, housing and retail among other things and intends to provide jobs in Paris and to bring life to the area which has gotten a bit down-trodden in the past two decades.
LVMH is one of the few French companies that hasn’t headed for the borders to avoid corporate taxes (though government subsidies are said to have countered any taxes paid). Millions of construction dollars have been spent and thousands of jobs were created. But still. Change.
So if you want to have coffee with a Parisian and just don’t know how to get the conversation going, ask the question: LVMH, LoVe eM or Hate em?