Bonjour mesdames et messieurs. Another city that should be on the bucket list of every urban art enthusiast is Paris.
It’s the city of romance, exquisite food and fine wines; a place where millions of tourists flock every year to see sights like Notré Dam, Sacré Coeur, le Eiffel Tower, le Pantheon, Musee du Louvre and the magnifique architecture that spreads across a vast landscape…
The French capital has an incredible street art scene – it’s an urban playground for top artists like OBEY, C215, Monsieur Diamond, Monsieur Chat, VHILS, Nemo, Invader, Alexis Diaz and a whole host of others.
Finding street art en Francais
The city of Paris is absolutely massive and you could easily spend all day aimlessly wondering from one place to the next while getting lost in its beautiful, yet narrow streets. So if you’ve never been before and you want to find some graffiti, I highly recommend taking a street art tour – check out undergroundparis.org.
The tour takes you around the streets of Belleville and Ménilmontant and introduces you to a lot of local artists and Paris’s urban art scene. Like other cities, some of the street art is commissioned (they even have their own graffiti association) and the rest is as illegal as lighting up a joint in Buckingham Palace.
As with my other posts I’ll be doing a few about Paris as there’s so much street art to talk about. I might even tell you where to go to experience some proper Parisian cuisine too (I know that’s why you’re really here!).
Belleville street art
My first taste of the urban art in Paris was in the Belleville district. There’s plenty of incredible graffiti to find in this area including a massive piece from the 1980s and a street where it’s legal to do as much graffiti as you like… yes you read that right – legal.
The following pictures are some of the best street art findings in the Belleville area…
One of many murals commissioned by the street art association
Can you spot an iconic OBEY?
On this wall you can see work by Monsieur Diamond, Monsieur BMX, Mega Matt (similar style to Invader) and Mister P (furthest left).
Trademark street art carving by VHILS. Also on Rue Fontaine au Roi.
Mural on Rue Lemon by Alexis Diaz
At the top of Rue Lemon you’ll find Rue Dénoyez aka the graffiti street. This is the street where it’s legal to carry out as much tagging and spraying as you like. As you can imagine it’s plastered with urban art and it’s probably the most colourful street I’ve ever seen.
When you reach the end of the graffiti street you’ll come to Rue de Belleville. It’s a pretty steep hill but once you reach the top it’s well worth it. Walking up this street gives you a real taste of this multi-cultural, diverse area.
Here you’ll find the famous ‘detective’ piece by artist Jean Le Gac which went up on the walls in 1986 – 29 years prior to my visit to Paris and two years before I was born.
There’s another massive piece of urban art in this area by Ben Vautier (Ben 93) that depicts two life-size puppets lowering a blackboard that says ‘Il faut se méfier des mots’ which translates to ‘beware of words‘.
Huge detective piece by Jean Le Gac
‘Beware of words’ by Ben 93.
Another good urban art spot is at the top of Parc de Belleville. It’s the ‘highest elevated’ park in Paris and it’s a bit of a climb to the top, but once you get there the view is breathtaking.
The view of Paris from the Parc de Belleville. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day but you can still see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
When you finally get reach the park’s summit you’ll find some amazing street art on the viewing platform by an artist who goes by the name Seth. He’s got a unique style and his work is really impressive, and highly ‘instagrammable.’
Once you’ve filled up your iPhone with beautiful pictures of Paris (and graffiti) from the viewing platform there’s still a lot more street art to find in Belleville.
Before I finish off the first part of my Paris street art blogging bonanza there’s one more piece I’d like to share. It’s by Spanish street artist El Pez and his ‘feel good’ style can be found in many European cities (I’ve seen a lot of his work in east London).
El Pez’s feel good graffiti
In my next Paris street art blog I’ll cover more urban art in the Belleville area as well as work by Invader, Shepard Fairey and others… and where to go to eat some pretty good snails.
Graffiti lovers & artists, please add comments, share your favourite pieces in Paris, and add any info I’ve missed.