Left: Artwork by Le Module de Zeer
Even though I love strolling through St Germain and the Marais, it’s always exciting to discover new, edgier sides of my favorite city. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to tag along on a Street Art tour arranged by Underground Paris. While I’m far from an expert on the subject, even I have had the feeling that street art is getting bigger by the second here in Paris.
Street art at Rue Denoyez
Right: Artwork by Le Module de Zeer
According to Demian, our tour guide for the day, I’m on the right track. Although Berlin and London are leaders in the scene, Paris’ street art isn’t to be taken lightly.
As we started walking from Rue Oberkampf, Demian began telling us about a few of the big names in the street art world while pointing out where to stop on the way to have an extra look. Shepard Fairey, the man behind the Obama Hope poster that became a staple of the 2008 campaign, has also left his mark on the streets of Paris.
“Subtle and respectful of the buildings and people around his work” was how Demian described Shepard and the processes behind most of his art. Apparently, some street artists are keen to respect and add value to their surroundings, while others don’t consider it to be graffiti/street art unless it’s vandalism.
For me, who always thought of graffiti as simply writing your name on the wall with a spray-can, this was a really eye opening experience. Sure, ‘name tags’ are a part of the street art culture, but there’s so much more to the story. During our walk, I experienced true talent and artwork that really knocked my socks off.
Artwork by Fred Le Chevalier
Left: Artwork by Jerome Mesnager
After walking with Demian for a while and listening to his impressive expertise on the subject, even I could start recognizing certain street artists’ work. Space Invader, who does those little mosaic space invaders above or underneath the street signs in Paris. Fred Le Chevalier, who specializes in those dreamy figures that would be just as pretty in a children’s book as they are on out in street. Ludo, who does most of his work in black, white and green and M. Chat who paints funny cats all over Paris.
Right: Artwork by Fred Le Chevalier
Artwork by Rubbish
There are just as many different styles as there are techniques. The use of fire extinguishers, spray cans, stencils, paintbrushes and printed computer art were just a few of the variations we saw along our walk.
Artwork by Nick Walker
Right: Artwork by Benjamin Vautier
After a little bit more than three hours on our feet we had walked from Rue Oberkampf, through the 11th arrondissement, into the 20th, through Belleville (with a stop for a warm cup of coffee at Aux Folies, Édith Piaf’s favorite café), up to the Parc de Belleville with our last stop at Ménilmontant.
These are all great neighborhoods to stroll through if you want to experience the street art scene while in Paris, but for the full experience, I would suggest booking a tour so you can learn about the stories behind the artwork as well!
- To find out more about this tour and other possibilities have a look at Underground Paris’ website.
- From idea to finished product! Look what happened when the artists Sten & Lex (that we also saw along the tour) took over the “Le M.U.R” in Paris
- Want to check out some hot spots for street art in Paris? Consult this online map.