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Paris Street Art: A Guide for the Urban Explorer

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.

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.

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Art Foundations: Discovering Paris’ Lesser-Known Artistic Gems

Baccarat House (Hotels Paris Rive Gauche)

Most visitors to Paris don’t know what they’re missing by not knowing the word fondation. I know I didn’t when I moved from New York. When I heard about the Yves Saint Laurent or Henri Cartier-Bresson fondations, for example, I just assumed they were boring non-profits or something. Silly girl.

Fondations are Paris’ little artistic gems. Often housed in magnificent old hotels particuliers or modern spaces designed by world-renowned architects, these “foundations” are like miniature museums, dedicated to preserving the memory and achievements of influential movers and shakers. Here are some not to be missed.

Fondation Cartier

Fondation Cartier (Tim Brown Architects’)

By far my favorite is the Fondation Cartier. The modern, airy Jean Nouvel-designed building invites the lush cedar and fig trees surrounding the building inside, and the surrounding wild gardens make for a perfect pit-stop after taking in the art. And then there’s the art. Seeing as it’s the hoighty-toighty French jeweler’s fondation, the work is nothing short of sterling. Exhibitions are really well curated, ranging from Japanese megastar Beat Takashi Kitano’s kitschy-controversial paintings to the wildly popular 2009 graffiti art exhibition to William Eggleston photographs.

261 Blvd Raspail (14th arr.). 01 42 18 56 50. Open every day, except Monday, from 11am-8pm; Tuesdays until 10pm.

Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Exhibit at Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves St. Laurent (Virginie Arnoux, Tulio Borges)

Yves Saint Laurent is a god to the French, to fashionistas and to feminists. So it only makes sense that there’s a fondation devoted to the iconic fashion designer in one of the city’s chichi-est arrondissements. Don your finest and dive deep into four decades’ worth of original sketches, accessories, haute couture and ready-to-wear. While many of the rotating exhibitions are devoted to YSL, not all of them are. Past standouts include shows by painter David Hockney, interior designer Jean-Michem Frank and American socialite Nan Kempner.

5 Avenue Marceau (16th arr). 01 44 31 64 00. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Continue Reading »

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Playtime in Saint Germain

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While many tourists may be flocking to more traditional art institutions (the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay), in-the-know Parisians are simply soaking up the art in their own neighborhoods. That’s right… public art is on the rise in Paris, and it is all around if you keep your eyes open! This week, you won’t want to miss the final few days of Parcours Saint Germain, an annual contemporary art exhibition that takes place in sites throughout the 6th arrondissement — from designer boutiques, to historic cafés, to public squares, to the local Monoprix. Continue Reading »

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