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Hello and bonjour encore ! I'm back in Paris and this is the door to number 1 bis, Rue Chapon.
Or is it?
You can knock on it and wait here for as long as you want, but no-one is ever going to open it
and let you in, and that's not just because they're Parisians; it's also because this
is an art installation; the door appeared here early one Saturday morning in 2006 on
what was previously a blank wall.
And that got me thinking.
I wonder how many other fake doors there are in the city, maybe even whole fake buildings, that
people walk past every day without ever realising they're not real?
I bet there are so many they won't even fit into this intro.
We're starting our fake building quest right in the middle of Paris at the Pompidou Centre.
The architects famously put all the normally hidden parts of a building on the outside,
from the structural supports, to electrical equipment, to these huge white ventilation shafts.
What you end up with is a normal building on the inside that looks like some weird industrial
infrastructure on the outside.
And of course we're here to see almost the exact opposite of that.
And it all starts with another ventilation shaft in London.
This is Leinster Gardens, a beautiful street near Paddington Station, and if you hang out
in the same parts of YouTube that I do, someone's probably already told you about the fake buildings
at numbers 23 and 24, that were built to disguise a ventilation shaft for the tube; But what
you may not know, is that Paris has loads of these.
And just round the corner next to this protest I think we might have found one.
Number 29 rue Quincampoix looks real at first but as you get closer you can see that the
windows have all been painted on.
Well during the pedestrianisation of Paris's city centre in the 70s and 80s, they built
a huge network of underground road tunnels here, and the artwork was commissioned to
disguise a ventilation shaft, which you can see when you look at the satellite view on
Google maps.
It's beautifully done but if we're being picky (which to clarify we absolutely are)
it's pretty obvious that it's not a real building.
But a short walk away there's another, and this one is a lot harder to spot.
Number 44 Rue d'Aboukir is a typical traditional 6-story Parisian building until you look closely
at the front door.
This notice tells you it belongs to the RATP, the company that runs Paris's public transport
and sure enough it's hiding another ventilation shaft. This time it's for the underground railway
tunnel that carries suburban RER trains between Les Halles and the Gare du Nord.
The transport company designed the façade to blend in as much as possible with the rest of the street
and you'd have to say they did a pretty good job.
Which is more than can be said for what the electricity company did just up the road.
In the 1970s Electricité de France put a substation on Rue Bergère and it was kind
of ugly and the residents complained so they thought, ok, why don't we do what the RATP did,
and build a façade in front of it.
So they did.
But I feel like they didn't quite understand the bit about blending in.
See if you can spot it.
To be fair number 27 is a pretty convincing building, the only problem is that it would
have been less ugly if it was just an electrical substation.
We've now walked almost all the way up to the Gare du Nord which is admittedly partly
because I have to catch a train in about 15 minutes but that's ok because as we know,
trains mean ventilation shafts, and ventilation shafts mean fake facades.
And what's coming up next is probably the best and most famous of the lot.
The house at 145 rue la Fayette was 90
or an entrance to the underworld, depending on whether you listen to the RATP or Umberto Eco.
I'm not going to tell you who you should believe, but the historic façade was fully
preserved, together with its classic 2nd floor balcony, and the guardians of the underworld
seem to have put scaffolding behind it for maintenance purposes.
So if you could get inside, you'd be able to climb up and open the windows.
Any attempt to actually do this would be extremely dangerous and hugely illegal, which means, of course,
there's a YouTuber who's done it.
You can check out the link in the description below but before you do that there's time for one
final stop just around the corner at number 174 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis.
And yes it's yet another ventilation shaft.
There are in fact at least another 5 fake facades in Paris (that we know about),
so there's more to explore, but for today we'll end our tour here, because there's only so many
stupid jokes I can make about large-scale ventilation, and to be honest,
I'm not a big fan.
If you'd like to see the fake facades of Paris (from the outside at least), you can follow my
exact route using the Google Maps link in the increasingly long description below.
It takes about an hour and I recommend doing in the reverse order
if you'd rather be going downhill.
Anyway thanks for watching and I'll see you soon.
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Paris's Fake Buildings (And The Story Behind Them)

17 Folder Collection
jeremy.wang published on March 30, 2020
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