My Travel Map

My Travel Map

25 November 2018

Paris Street Art

Paris is a city that is famous for its world class art galleries and museums. However, it is also a wonderful place for fans of contemporary street art. It's hard to walk around parts of the city without noticing the street art, which in my opinion, is a good thing. When done respectfully for the building or space on which it's placed, street art makes an urban landscape much more engaging, charming, and thought-provoking. A city with good street art is a fun place to walk around and explore, and combined with Paris' already picture perfect streetscapes and seemingly endless nooks to discover, Parisian street art adds some incredibly fun touches to make wandering on foot even more enjoyable.

OK, I'll start out big here.  Though an architectural example and not at all what one would consider typical street art, Paris' Centre Pompidou stands out drastically against the surrounding Parisian architecture. The Centre houses a public library, a music and acoustics research center, and Paris' Museum of Modern Art. The building itself was very controversial when its design was selected in the 1970s, with many saying it was a blight on the face of the city. However, it has come to be quite famous and is well worth a visit, if only just for a wander around the outside to take in all of the intentionally exposed construction elements.  

This man was working on some epic sidewalk murals just outside of the Centre Pompidou.

There is art everywhere in this city, one just has to keep their head up with an open eye

Many consider street art to be simply a glorified form of graffiti. Simple "tags" - an artist's stylized signature - yes, sure, that qualifies as graffiti, but what about the snake seen here?

And then there are the mosaics and posters that one will often see plastered onto the sides of buildings. This example is by an artist known as Invader, after the Atari game Space Invaders. Invader, like many other street artists, illegally post their art in full view of the public, arguing that not everyone has access to museums or galleries.  Street art is often about protest and often about jest, and some of the best combines both into one piece.

Another Invader piece (Mario mosaic) plus pieces from multiple other artists.

Invader was featured in the mockumentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop," which itself was a production from another famous and incognito artist, Banksy. When he started, Invader supposedly used faces from Rubiks Cubes as the elemental pieces for his mosaics.

Look closer...

Think of how bland this beige, brick wall would be without those little pieces of detail on there.

Street art also often comes in the form of sticker collages


I don't know the name of this artist, but I've seen work like this in several places now...

Again, not qualifying as typical street art, Paris also boasts this place: the Last Bar before the End of the World.

This bar is nerd heaven. There are countless collectibles to peruse and tons of games to play, all while sipping on a tasty craft brew or delicious cocktail.

They even have their own publication, The Kraken Tribune.

I'd love to meet the creators of this place... they have taste and style that are very much in line with my own.

Back out on the street exploring.

I couldn't tell what was really going on here... I don't think this was an official piece (the panda looking thing in the bottom right definitely wasn't), but who knows.  It was charming.

I loved this... that guy pointing into the glass worked so well with the cartoon character on the wall.

Party girls?

Again, my opinion is that this wall, which is in an alley, is so much more interesting with these random touches of color and detail than if it is just left blank.

Bigger pieces like this mural are clearly commissioned.

Again, not your typical street art, but this is indeed art on the street.  This was an outdoor art exhibit and series of pop-up galleries by local artists.

Definitely not street art, but I included this because once you start taking in random, smaller details, you start to see so much more around a city.  This was the display case in an exterminators shop... it would be quite macabre for any rodent.

And I loved this little detail in a music shop across the river from Notre Dame.

Back at the river, Paris' famous lock bridges...  so many lovers have placed their "permanent" symbols of their devotion to each other on the railings of several Parisian bridges that city officials have had to either remove and replace entire segments of railing routinely or reinforce them to account for the extra weight

Look closer...

This is one of my favorite pictures... I'd love to know who put that red nose up there; I'd buy them a beer at Dernier Bar Avant la Fin du Monde! So, next time you find yourself in Paris, remember, stroll the streets, wander the alleys, and keep your head up and your eyes open.

11 November 2018

Paris Sights, Small and Large

We'll kick this post on Paris off with some views from the top.

The Montparnasse Tower sits opposite the Eiffel Tower and together they serve as the dominant high points of central Paris.  The tower's observatory floor near the top offers some of the best views over the city. 

The unique perspectives from above yield a much greater appreciation of the scale of the city.  Paris is sprawling.

Multiple landmarks stick out above the city-scape.  Sacré-Coeur on Montmartre is one of those.

The Louvre and the Tuileries Garden also stand out in their enormity.

And of course, the city's other tower.

The Saint-Sulpice Church (left-center) and Luxembourg Palace and Garden (right-center).  Notre Dame is also visible behind the Palace.

And the Pompidou Center, which stands out starkly from the old city due to its modern style.

The Montparnasse Cemetery, which sits nearby below the tower.

Another view of the cemetery plus Paris' Two Towers.

The cemetery makes for a very pleasant and quiet place to stroll. Near here too is the official access point to Paris' famous Catacombs, with its intricately stacked piles upon piles of human bones.

The rooftops of Paris with their distinct high slope and upper floor windows.  The large wings for the chimneys between each building are interesting too.

The Montparnasse Tower by night and into the metro.

Paris' metro is quite extensive, with some stations seemingly barely separated by the length of a train.  The only problem I've found with the system is that it closes very early.

Having been to Paris now four or five times, I've still barely scratched the surface of all it has to offer culturally, particularly its wealth of museums.

But when a city is this charming, it's tough to find the time to stay inside for half a day or more, especially when treated with such fine weather.

Paris is a tremendously rewarding city to explore by foot.

The city itself is nearly saturated in architectural beauty.

And reminders of the pride of France are all over.

I was treated to some wonderful light and dramatic clouds in the Place des Vosges

The French appreciation of simply sitting and talking with friends in beautiful park spaces never ceases to inspire me to do the same more often. There is a genuine appreciation of how beautiful their public spaces are.

Back in the metro and off to another spot.

Alongside the Seine you'll almost always find others enjoying life, regardless of time of day.

Taking a river cruise is another nice way to take in the city.

Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral and its architecturally famous flying buttresses.  It's hard to believe that the building has stood on this spot for over 850 years.

The Saint-Michel Fountain, just across the river from the Ile de la Cité.

A little street art... but more on this in a follow-up post.

Springtime in Paris may sound cliché, but there are many good reasons why the spring is a wonderful time to be in the city. Near-perfect weather is a great place to start, and add to that a general lack of European tourists, who tend to inundate the place later in the summer.

The Arc de Triomphe... the details in this monumental piece are fantastic.

And the Champs-Élysées.

The spectacular facade of the Musée d'Orsay

Some folks enjoying a game of pétanque, basically a ball game very similar to bocce and lawn bowling. Just another charming way that the French will enjoy a Sunday afternoon outdoors.

And some more sights over by the Louvre.

And some monumental architecture stolen from another great former empire, the Obelisk of Luxor. The obelisk was "gifted" to France by the ruler of Ottoman Egypt in the mid-1800s.  Sadly, its twin stands alone and unbalanced since then outside of the Luxor Temple in Egypt.

The Bourbon Palace, like a not-so-little piece of Ancient Greece or Rome right in the heart of Paris.

The Grand Palace from the Alexandre III Bridge...

And the golden dome of Les Invalides from the Alexandre III Bridge.

And back to the Eiffel Tower.