The Art, Architecture and History of Paris

Ref: C3744538

This course is a journey of discovery through the history, art and architecture of Paris, a city renowned throughout the world as the city of love, the city of light and the city of elegance and style. The last 300 years have seen a series of dramatic and often traumatic passages in the lives of Parisians, their royal, military and political leaders, and their cultural icons. The course starts with an overview of this history, which sets the context for the main study of the changing cultural scene of France in the fields of art and architecture. Examples of the topics to be covered in art history include the works of the Romantic, Realist and Impressionist artists. In architecture, the course includes study of the impact on Paris of the two Napoleons, and then the Beaux Arts style of the Belle Epoque and the revolutionary Art Nouveau movement. Finally, the art displayed in the Metro stations provides a local Parisian perspective on its history and its great cultural heritage.

Course aim

To provide an insight into the turbulent history, world-famous art and glorious architecture of Paris, and to reveal the artworks illustrating all these aspects of the city that adorns the platform walls of the Metro.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Locate the four Napoleons of France, two now in England and two in France.
  • Assess the importance of the Franco-German war of 1870 in changing the balance of power in Europe.
  • Describe the art styles and an example artwork of two of the French Impressionists.
  • Describe the architectural styles of the two major Opera Houses of Paris, the Garnier and the Bastille.
  • Name the Paris Metro station that is a full-scale replica model of Jules Verne's submarine Nautilus.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • A handout binder will be provided to each student containing general reference material and sets of notes that accompany the study sequence of each session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • The following three books provide excellent Paris background; useful reading before, during or after the course: "The Other Paris" by Luc Sante "Parisians - An Adventure History of Paris" by Graham Robb "Paris" by Rutherford

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • This course should provide an extensive knowledge and understanding of Paris. As such, it is an ideal course for those intending to visit or stay in Paris in the future.

Download full course information sheet

The Art, Architecture and History of Paris


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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