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What are classic parisian colors?

Paris, the capital of France, is renowned worldwide for its iconic architecture, romantic ambiance, and timeless sense of style. When we think of the quintessential Parisian aesthetic, certain colors often come to mind – rich neutrals, pastel hues, and earthy tones that exude both elegance and understated chic.

The Origins of Parisian Color Palettes

Paris’ characteristic color palette draws inspiration from natural elements and the city’s landscape. Earthy tones like beige, tan, and light brown reflect the stone buildings and paved streets that make up much of central Paris. Soft greys and creams mirror the cool tones of the city’s sky on overcast days. Meanwhile, the pastel hues – light pink, baby blue, mint green – are reminiscent of macarons and delicate French patisseries.

Of course, Parisian style and architecture has evolved over the centuries, leaving its mark on the city’s prevalent color schemes. In the 18th century, wealthy Parisian nobles favored more vivid, saturated hues like deep red, emerald, and sapphire blue. This gradually gave way to subtler, more neutral palettes championed by style icons like Coco Chanel in the early 20th century. Over time, a blend of both vibrant and muted tones came to characterize Parisian interiors and exteriors.

Signature Colors of Parisian Style and Décor

Though Parisian aesthetics are diverse, certain colors are especially ubiquitous throughout the city’s architecture, fashion, and design. Here are some of the most iconic shades connected to Parisian style:

Neutral Tones

  • Beige – As a versatile neutral, beige is found everywhere from building facades to café interiors. It provides an understated, elegant backdrop for bolder accent colors.
  • Light Grey – From weathered stone to modern minimalist spaces, light grey makes spaces feel refined yet relaxed. Variations like greige (grey + beige) are also popular.
  • Ivory – Softer than stark white, ivory has a gentle, creamy look. It was favored by Marie Antoinette for the interiors of Versailles.


  • Pale Pink – This feminine hue gained popularity after the French Revolution. It conjures images of delicate macarons and flowers.
  • Powder Blue – Evocative of robin’s egg blue, this pastel shade can be seen on doors, shutters, and accents across Paris.
  • Buttery Yellow – Softer than bright yellow, this mellow tone is reminiscent of vanilla ice cream and antique wallpapers.

Earth Tones

  • Camel – As a versatile neutral that complements both warm and cool palettes, camel is often used for upholstery and accessories.
  • Terracotta – Deep reddish-orange terracotta is echoed from the tiled rooftops to the interiors of cafés and homes.
  • Moss Green – An organic yet versatile green that conjures images of parks and gardens.

Beyond these signature shades, Parisian palettes incorporate a wide range of colors depending on context. Vibrant jewel tones lend drama to elegant interiors, while metallic accents and black elements add bold contrast.

How Color Trends Have Evolved in Paris

Paris’ characteristic color palettes continuously evolve with the times while retaining traditional roots. Here’s an overview of how some major design eras have influenced the colors associated with Parisian style:

Era Color Trends
Baroque (17th Century) Lavish gold, deep red, emerald green
Rococo (Early 18th Century) Pastels, pearl white, gold
Neoclassicism (Late 18th Century) Cream, dove grey, mossy green
Belle Epoque (Late 19th Century) Pale blue, soft rose, rich wood tones
Art Deco (1920s-1930s) Black, metallics, saturated brights

As this timeline shows, while color trends come and go, Parisian palettes have continuously blended classical neutrals and pastels with bolder shades – a timeless balance that never goes out of style.

Using Color in Parisian Inspired Décor

Want to add a touch of Parisian flair to your home or wardrobe? Here are some tips for incorporating signature Parisian colors and palettes:

  • Opt for soft, neutral walls and floors as a backdrop – beige, light grey, and ivory are perfect base tones.
  • Incorporate pastels via accessories, textiles, and artwork – think pale pink pillows, mint chairs, or watercolor prints.
  • Add pops of earth tones through vases, throws, velvet upholstery and other tactile accents.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and textures, like florals with checks, or velvet with linen.
  • Add metallic touches like brass, gold, and smoked silver for chic contrast.
  • Balance warm and cool tones to create depth – for example, beige walls with blue accents.
  • Incorporate French-inspired motifs like toile de jouy prints or trompe l’oeil artwork.

When selecting your palette, consider the room’s architectural details, the amount of natural light, and the overall ambiance you want to achieve. Layer textures, patterns, and colors for visual interest.

Achieving a Parisian Color Scheme

If you’re ready to refine your own Parisian-inspired color palette at home, keep these tips in mind:

  • Select two to four core neutral tones such as beige, greige, ivory, or dove grey. These will serve as your base wall, ceiling, and major furniture colors.
  • Next, pick two to three accent colors in pastel or earth tones. Use these for smaller accents, art, accessories, and soft furnishings.
  • Add in one or two metallic tones like brass, silver, or even gold for striking contrast.
  • Finish the palette with one or two bold jewel tones if desired – sapphire blue, emerald green and amethyst purple work beautifully.
  • Make sure to balance warm and cool tones. Don’t use all warm shades or all cool shades.
  • Incorporate different textures and materials – the mix is what makes Parisian décor alluring.

Don’t forget lighting – crystal chandeliers, sconces, and candles all create the warm, welcoming ambiance quintessential to Parisian spaces. With strategic colors, textures, patterns and lighting, you’ll have a palette that exudes Parisian joie de vivre.

Classic Parisian Color Combinations

Certain Parisian color combinations have truly stood the test of time. Here are some sophisticated, cohesive palettes to inspire your own Parisian aesthetic:

Color Palette Description
Ivory, light pink, navy blue, brass Elegant and feminine, perfect for a boudoir
Beige, terracotta, moss green, black Warm and earthy tones, evocative of café culture
Light grey walls, powder blue accents, oak wood finishes Soft and soothing, ideal for a bedroom
Off-white walls, charcoal grey velvet sofa, emerald green pillows Bold yet balanced for dramatic living spaces

Use these as inspiration when designing your own color scheme. Tailor the hues and proportions to your personal preferences and the existing architectural details.

Parisian Colors in Fashion

Beyond décor, Paris’ iconic color palettes also manifest in the world of fashion. Some signature shades of Parisian style include:

  • Red – From haute couture to street style, Parisian women embrace bold red accents, lips, and dresses.
  • Navy – A versatile dark neutral that matches everything from Breton stripes to elegant accessories.
  • Black – The essential LBD and chic sunglasses are part of Parisian fashion DNA.
  • Pink – From blush to fuchsia, pink telegraphs French femininity and playfulness.
  • Camel – As a contemporary neutral, camel coats and accessories feel inherently Parisian.

Beyond single statement colors, Parisian influencing color pairing in fashion include:

  • Navy and white Breton stripes – The iconic French mariniere shirt
  • Head-to-toe black – A classic way to look pulled-together yet nonchalant
  • Pink and green – Feminine colors that pop against neutrals
  • Red lipstick with a black dress – A timeless, dramatic combo

When channeling a Parisian aesthetic through your clothing, focus on choosing quality over quantity – a few versatile staples in classic hues will take you far. Mix high end and high street pieces, and accentuate your look with scarves, shoes, bags and lip colors in signature Parisian shades.

The Enduring Allure of Parisian Color Palettes

Paris’ characteristic use of color – harmonious, understated, timelessly chic – continues to inspire and influence design and fashion worldwide. By learning about the history, connotations, and applications of iconic Parisian hues, we can better understand the soft power and cultural sway of this romantic city. Whether through fashion or interiors, incorporating a touch of Paris into everyday life transports us to the banks of the Seine and the charming streets of Montmartre.

So embrace soft neutrals, pale pastels, earth tones, and even bold jewel tones to channel a piece of Parisian joie de vivre. With the strategic use of color, textures, lighting and accessories, you can bring a bit of Parisian flair to your own style – wherever you are.