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Strretart in Paris im 13. Arrondissement, Bold: EQRoy / shutterstock

The best street art spots in Paris

Paris: the city of love, art and culture. France’s capital is noble, chic and timelessly elegant. In Paris, there is a different attraction around every corner, created for eternity: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, Notre-Dame, Montmartre with the Sacré Cœur and, of course, the Louvre. But the queen among the capitals has more to offer than classic sightseeing.

Street art – more than graffiti

The street art scene has not only gained acceptance, but also has a great influence on the current art scene. The first work of art in public, urban space that is considered a signpost for street art is the mural called “Periskopisch” by Werner Nöfer at the Große Freiheit in Hamburg from 1967.

From the early 2000s onwards, the graffiti and urban art scene became an official street art movement, which has now conquered all metropolises of the world and has little to do with what is still associated with graffiti in a rather negative way today.

Street art in Paris

As early as the 80s, the first street artists settled in Paris and spread their art in urban space. A specialty of urban art in France is the so-called “le pochoir”, i.e. the use of a stencil by means of which the art is sprayed onto the walls. On the other hand, there is the freehand spraying of the pictures. The best-known representative of this stencil technique today is Banksy.

Street art was then a way for the masses to express themselves artistically and has become so important for contemporary Paris that street art is even commissioned by the government.

You can discover street art in Paris in the following places:

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The stronghold of street art: the 13th arrondissement

To improve the image of “le 13e”, the district mayor Jérome Coumet relied on street art. Today, the neighborhood is considered hip and trendy, and many people come here to see the murals, strencils, and tags of the various artists. The topics that are dealt with are sometimes socially critical and provocative, sometimes artistically valuable, but always full of passion.

In addition to the mayor, it is above all the Parisian art dealer and cultural entrepreneur Mehdi Ben Cheikh who promotes street art and urban art in Paris. He founded the Itinerrance gallery, which specialises in these art forms, and has been instrumental in Shepard Fairey’s aka Obey’s COP21 sphere. The artist hung the 2.3-ton sphere with a diameter of 8 meters between the first and second floors of the Eiffel Tower during the climate conference in 2015. It was printed with a mandala of floral patterns and the purpose of his installation was clear: respect the environment and protect nature.

A mix of old and new: Butte aux Cailles

In the Butte aux Cailles district in the 13th arrondissement, you can now find a colorful mix of works of art from the 80s to current artists. Not all of them are directly visible. The street art scene is established today, but many early artists still came from graffiti or the punk scene and therefore preferred to spray hidden.

One of the most important artists of the Butte aux Cailles and the 13th arrondissement is the Parisian Miss. Tic, which has also immortalized itself on numerous walls with its typical mix of image and writing in stencil style.

A whole street full of street art: Rue du Retrait

In the Rue du Retrait in the 20th arrondissement in the north of Paris, artwork is lined up next to artwork. The first facades were designed in 2013 and since then the street has been reinventing itself again and again, in an artistic sense. Often the new works appear unnoticed overnight. A visit there is therefore worthwhile even if you have already been there.

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Murals from several hands: The Villette district

Mural painting in Paris
Mural in Paris, Image: EQRoy / shutterstock

If there is a long wall somewhere, street artists feel magically attracted to it – as with the Berlin Wall. In Paris, it is a long wall in the Rue de l’Ourcq in the 19th arrondissement, to which a wide variety of artists have breathed a colorful life. In the Rue Aubervilliers you can marvel at the longest mural with a length of 493 meters. Opposite the Parc de la Villette, around 30 artists let off steam in the district around the 27th block.

Street art in the center

Even though the street art movement has become more established in the outer districts and among the socially disadvantaged classes, there are also numerous works of art in the center of Paris. On Igor Stravinsky Square in the 4th arrondissement, Jef Aérosol has created a 350m² picture with stencils showing a man exhorting silence. Also in the 4th arrondissement on Rue de la Verrerie, M.Chat embellished the shutter of BHV Homme with yellow cats.

On the other side of the Seine in the 7th arrondissement lived the well-known singer Serge Gainsbourg. Since his death, his house on Rue de Verneuil has been regularly adorned with new works of art, graffiti, drawings and collages, all to pay his last respects.

Discover street art with a guide or on your own

There are many different ways to experience street art in Paris. If you are planning a trip to France’s capital, you can either book various local guides directly online, some of whom belong to the street art scene themselves. You can also book various urban art tours directly on site, where you can get background knowledge about the artists and the works of art. Or you can go in search of the most famous street art spots on your own and perhaps discover one or two insider tips. If you don’t just want to get to know the Parisian underground, but prefer to do without the metro, you can also simply take one of the well-known Paris hop-on hop-off buses . In addition to street art, you also get a bit of classic sightseeing.