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The exterior of the Maison de Verre. Photo by Mark Lyon.

The exterior of the Maison de Verre. Photo by Mark Lyon.

The Maison de Verre (Glass House) is one of the most precious architectural wonders in all of Paris, but it is also one of the most exclusive. Bathed in sunlight during the day, the Maison de Verre, designed by Pierre Chareau in 1931, gives off the same subtle shine as a piece of frosty sea glass. At night, illuminated by floodlights, it glows in the dark like a bioluminescent creature of the deep. When it was built, Le Corbusier used to walk by to see what was going on with this avant-garde architectural experiment. Those who are fortunate enough to take a tour of the interior will discover that the Maison is much more than an architectural relic; it is, as Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times put it, “an exquisite machine.” Both functional and artistic, the house is brought to life by rotating metal screens, sliding doors, rolling ladders and retractable staircases. It is meant to be lived in, as well as admired.

Grand Salon-Maison de Verre-Mark Lyon-ParisThe grand salon and front façade. Photo by Mark Lyon.

Until 2006, the Maison de Verre belonged to the Dalsace family. The family occupied the upper floors of the Maison, while the ground floor housed the offices where Dr. Dalsace, a gynecologist, treated his patients. These days, the house belongs to Robert M. Rubin, a retired American financier. Rubin opens the house to a limited number of tours, but it can be very difficult to get a spot. Leave it to Michelle Young, the founder of Untapped Cities, to uncover the secret to visiting the Maison de Verre (she’s been twice):

-You must be a student or professional working in architecture or a related field.

-If you’re eligible, send a letter describing your interest and your qualifications to mdv31@orange.fr to reserve a tour.

-If you plan on visiting the Maison by yourself, reserve your tour 3 to 4 months in advance. If you’re visiting as part of a group, you’ll need reserve your tour 5-6 months in advance. Groups cannot exceed 10 people.

Tours last for an hour and a half and are scheduled for Thursdays at 2 and 3:30 p.m. only, and there are no tours during the month of August. Tickets cost 40 euros per person and 20 euros for students and professors of architecture (that’s roughly 54 and 27 U.S. dollars, respectively). But a trip to the Maison de Verre is well worth the six-month wait and the empty wallet; an hour and a half spent inside Chareau’s Glass House is an hour and a half spent inside his light, bright and delicate dream of the 20th century.

 architecture, Maison de Verre, Pierre Chareau

10 Responses
  1. Wow! I saw yesterday a documentary about this wonderful place and I literally fell in love with it! I lived in Paris for 15 years and didn’t know about La Maison de Verre. One of the misteries of the city!
    I’m a painter and a writer, very interested in arquitecture and art. In my next visit to France, I’ll give it a try!
    Thanks for this precious information!

  2. sebastiano brandolini Reply

    We are a group of four persons, of which three architects. Would like to visit the Maison de Verre on 14-15 May 2014. is it possible?

    • My email request for a tour was returned as undeliverable. Do you know if the application address has changed?

  3. I hope it is possible to visit the house at 19 april. I am an architect and like to visit with collegea and vriends, we are 4 in total, hope to hear from you, yours Daan,, Daan etr Avest, MAS architectuur.nl

  4. jose alvarez checa Reply

    ces´t posible visiter la maison de verre le jour 7 o 8 de December

  5. meira yagid Reply

    As a senior curator of architecture and design i am planning to be in Paris in September for re reopening of the GALIERA museum of fashion
    could it be possible to visit the house on SEP 26? (2people) me and another curator of the department

    Thank you so much

    meira yagid
    senior curator of design and architecture
    Tel Aviv Museum of Art

    meira@tamuseum.com

  6. Ken Woolley Reply

    To the Administrators,
    Maison de Verre, Paris

    I am an Australian architect. I will be in Paris for several weeks in September and would greatly appreciate visiting the house with my wife, whether in a group , guided or not, whichever is available. I understand from your website that visits may be conducted on Thursdays, for which I can do the 29th August or 5th and 12th of September.
    I have had a long career as a practising architect and am now an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney, with a Doctorate in Architecture and the Gold Medal of the Australian Institute of Architects. Also I am a member of the Order of Australia (AM) and a fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
    I am the author of a book on the design of the Sydney Opera House and my drawings have been exhibited and published.
    I would be most grateful to achieve a long held ambition to see M Chareau’s great work.

    Yours Sincerely

    Ken Woolley AM

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