False Facades Paris

Image by Yuko Ogino

False Facades – Knock, knock..?

Prisoners to the city’s transport network and electricity supply, these tall pretenders stand smug, fooling passersby day after day.

Next time you find yourself by 145 rue Lafayette, look up and you’ll see the typical Haussmannian building (the middle block) in the photo above. Despite being complete with door, windows and balconies, you’ll find no knocker or doorbell at the front door because no one lives here…

When the RATP (Parisian transport operator) set about extending the RER B line in the 1980s, they needed to install ventilation for the tunnel and acquired several plots to construct glorified chimneys. During the works, it was decided that the facades of such structures should be preserved, so as not to alter the streetscape.

If you want to check from the comfort of your home, take a look at the satellite view.

This is not a concept which has only been adopted in Paris, but it is also present in New York and London.

Along with the RATP, EDF (Electricity of France) also have a few of their discreet agents dotted about the city.

Here are a few more hollow houses to get you started…

29, rue Quinquimpoix – another chimney painted in disguise

141, boulevard Diderot – an RATP recovery centre

53, rue des Archives – an EDF transformer

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Details about this spot



145 Rue la Fayette, Paris

Opening Times

24 hours daily


Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)