Today's post by Lia Corrado of France Homestyle is an fun tour of some of the rich street art of Paris.
Few can contest that Paris is a visually enchanting city, magnetizing photographers and artists from around the globe. From the stately Haussmann architecture and sumptuous window displays to the winding cobblestone passageways bordered by lush gardens spilling out over wrought iron gates, the City of Lights is a feast for the eyes. Just try getting bored while watching the world go by at a Parisian café terrace.
Not surprisingly, then, the culture of street art here is one of the richest in the world. The past sixty years have seen this tradition ripen and blossom into a legitimate art form. On a recent trip to Paris, I was inspired to follow the tracks of the mysterious personalities who adorn the city’s walls and streets with stencils, pasted paper cutouts, paintings, and even cement etchings.
Walking slowly and purposefully gave me the chance to open my senses and tap into the creative pulse that makes Paris such a vibrant destination. Leaving aside the 3rd and the 11th arrondissement near la Republique, I chose two itineraries that will offer you a taste of contemporary street art in Paris, while taking you a little off the beaten tourist path.
A haven for creative types, Belleville is a palette unto itself, as you’ll discover when you wander the backstreets off of main avenues such as Rue des Pyrénées and Rue de Ménilmontant.
Here you’ll find Jerome Mesnager’s ethereal white bodies dancing on the walls, Philippe Herard’s ghostly, faceless forms pushing, pulling, and squeezing themselves into the cracks and contours of building, and a host of others.
Starting in front of the pretty Eglise du Jourdain at Metro Jourdain, I followed Rue Jourdain as it winded down toward Rue des Pyrénées, noting the brightly painted jungle creatures that paraded down the street. I crossed the street at the intersection and descended the stairs at Rue Levert, then wandered down Rue de la Mare over to Rue de Savies, where curious faces peered out from the soft plaster walls. I ended up on Rue des Cascades, entranced by the humorous and elegant art deco-esque figures of Fred le Chevalier, then strolled down Rue Henri Chevreau all the way to Rue de Ménilmontant, a lively street made famous by the huge mural depicting Jerome Mesnager’s ethereal dancing bodies. Further up the street I turned left on Rue de l’Ermitage to reach the magical alleyway Villa de l’Ermitage and its sculptural treasures. Finally I found myself back on Rue des Pyrénées where I stopped and had a drink at the wine bar on tranquil Place Guignier after all that walking and photo snapping. Le bonheur!
Butte aux Cailles/Rue du Chevaleret
I was lucky to live in the FranceHomestyle Gobelins apartment in the unsung 13th arrondissement or a few months, and was delighted to discover an abundance of creativity on display in the most unexpected places. While visiting the ultra-modern Bibliothèque Nationale Francois Mitterrand one afternoon, I passed an intriguing building that resembled a haunted Victorian mansion with a modern twist. Les Frigos, 19 rue des Frigos, is a warehouse that once served the national railway company and now provides studio space for over 200 artists. Take a tour all the way around the building for a fantastical display of graffiti in all its variation, and be sure to poke your head in during open studio visits.
Just up the street, humble Rue du Chevaleret leads to a residential area with plenty of whimsical secrets. Amble down Rue Duchefdelaville to place Jeanne d’Arc, then follow Rue Jeanne d’Arc all the way to Blvd Vincent Auriol, where Shephard Fairey’s 2012 mural brings sensual life to an otherwise nondescript apartment building. Follow the boulevard up to Place d’ Italie, and then spend an afternoon strolling through the winding slopes of la Butte aux Cailles, keeping your eyes peeled for Miss Tic’s sultry dark haired women and their clever quotes, and the marvelous cement etchings of Portuguese artist Vhils.