Coming from Melbourne, the home of the famous Hosier Lane – a cobbled laneway densely covered in stencils, paste ups and murals – I’ve always had a love of street art. When I made Paris my home, I realized how important street art is in the City of Light. The country claims so many legendary street artists, making Paris a mecca for the medium. While there are plenty of street art tours you can take, my favorite thing to do is spot my preferred street artists’ oeuvres and discover new works while wandering the boulevards and alleyways of Paris.
Street art is often placed in obscure or unexpected places, so next time you’re out and about in Paris, keep your eyes open for artistic discoveries. Here are a few street artists you might find if you have a keen eye:
You can’t write about French street art and not make mention of Invader. An anonymous French artist whose work is based on the pixellated graphics of 1970s arcade games, Invader uses ceramic tiles to create mosaics of iconic cartoon characters. Invader’s work can be found in Paris and all over the world, with 3636 pieces in 76 countries.
Clet Abraham is a French artist who modifies road signs with removable vinyl stickers. His humorous works do not alter the primary function of the sign, “I don’t damage the signs – because I use stickers – but I wake up attention and I create a dialogue” the artist said in an interview with The Guardian. The mayor of the 13th arrondissement was so taken by his works that he decided to collaborate with the artist, allowing him to work freely in the area. Like Invader, Clet’s work can be found all over the world, with his studio located in Florence, Italy.
Jana und Js are an Austrian-French couple whose stencil artwork is inspired by the city, its inhabitants, and its urban landscape. Based on photographs they’ve taken, they create portraits that are nostalgic and melancholic. Mentored by renowned street artist Artiste-Ouvrier, they are part of the Working Class Artist (WCA) collective. Their work is not solely on the streets though, they recently exhibited at Joël Knafo art gallery in Montmartre.
Levalet is another French artist and visual arts teacher whose realistic black and white paste ups are inspired by film, theatre, comics, and mimes. Levalet uses Paris’ architecture to create site specific scenes and situations inspired by everyday life but with a quirky, humorous, or absurd twist.
Ardif is a Paris-based street artist and architect who refers to his black and white paste ups as ‘mechanimals’, representing hybrids of nature and architecture/machine. His drawings are detailed and technical, drawing from his experience as an architect and influenced by the steampunk movement.
More recent to the street art scene is In Love, an artist who spreads love all over Paris with chains of red love hearts and heartfelt messages. Sometimes simply in love or je t’aime (I love you), other times je pense a toi mon amour (I’m thinking of you my love) or tu es l’amour de ma vie (You are the love of my life). Random responses from the public can often be found scrawled beneath his work, such as a moi aussi! (Me too!).
There are plenty of other street artists not mentioned here, including C215, Miss Tic., Jerome Mesnager, Seth Globepainter, Gregos and even more to discover, so hit the streets and see what you can find!
- Read about our guide to arts off the beaten track in Paris.
- Find out which museums in Paris are worth visiting all year round, no matter what exhibition is on.
- Earlier this month, the first in a series of street art projects featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts gang was unveiled in Paris. Read more here.