These iconic rooftops are part of the city’s heritage and date back to the 1800s when Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann was chosen by Emperor Napoleon III to carry out a massive urban renewal program in Paris. In addition to widening boulevards, developing parks, and creating tree-lined avenues, Haussmann added the distinctive zinc rooftops.
Lightweight yet sturdy, the zinc rooftops have become as much a part of the city as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Their varying shades of gray, from light to blue-gray to steel, tell the story of when each roof was built (the darker the gray the older the roof), and they often provide a stunning backdrop for movies, photographs, and paintings.
Now, there’s an effort underway to give these rooftops Unesco World Heritage status. However, the process is a long one and it could be years before the international organization makes a decision. In the meantime, the French government has called the zinc rooftops a priceless cultural asset –– and to that we add a brilliant work of art, high above the City of Lights.