Embracing the neighbourhood vibe and foregoing traditional museums this trip, we signed up for a Street Art Tour that began at the Place d’Italie, just around the corner from our apartment. We were greeted by our guide, Victor, a classical art historian with interest in the Street Art movement prevalent in the 13th arrondissement. Not formally protected under French law, street art and artists are more protected in this area of Paris than any other part of the city. Additionally, there are larger works commissioned by the city to beautify the more modern, bleak buildings.
Beginning in the cobble-stoned street neighbourhood of Buttes aux Cailles which Victor referred to as Montmartre without tourists, he pointed out the different waves of the art, from stencils, to graffiti, to small-tiled mosaics and the symbol “A” for love and anarchy.
After our quiet tour on the Butte (hill), we raced back to Place d’Italie and re-entered the modern Paris with her sleek walls and commissioned art work. These works are grand; however, most were completed within 3-5 afternoons, sometimes done freehand by one person. Truly an incredible feat for an artist. It seemed like every time we turned we were regaled with another image of color and depth. Having Victor describe the purpose, the artist and the thought behind the art made the images become more vibrant and meaningful. His passion for art and education was evident and contagious and the kids said it was their second best tour of the trip. (The first place going to the Percy Jackson tour at the Capitoline Museum in Rome when they handily beat the parents in the competition.)
With a day of striking and traffic, staying in our neighbourhood was a wise and pleasant way to spend the day. Visiting our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch, it was followed by a walk to the best macarons in the area. Inspired by the beauty of pastries, we finished the day with some episodes of the newest season of Zumbo’s Just Desserts.