Street Art in Paris’ Belleville District

With numerous museums like the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, and Musée del O’rangerie, Paris has no shortage of art to marvel at. However, it also has a very interesting and vibrant street art scene. So if you’ve never been to the French capital or too worn-out to make a beeline to another museum, why not wander around and get to know a different side of the city. Let the walls speak to you.

If you don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend joining a street tour like UndergroundParis, specially if you want to see real (publicly valued) street art and not just look at tags. The tour starts near the UndergroundParis office at rue Oberkampf and takes you to two charming neighborhoods, Belleville and Ménilmontant, off the tourist tracks. You don’t need to have any prior knowledge about the street art movement, as the program will introduce you to several local artists and the Paris urban scene. The 3-hour tour will not only teach you how to distinguish different artists, styles, and techniques; you will also gain a deeper appreciation about the sub-culture – seeing pass the writings on the wall and understanding what lies under the ink.

The group viewing Le Module de Zeer at rue de la Fontaine au roi

The group viewing Le Module de Zeer at rue de la Fontaine au roi

Some interesting finds in the area include works by local artists like COMBO, Monsieur BMX, Mega Matt and Le Module de Zeer. You will also come across some famous international names like VHILS from Portugal and Shepard Fairey from the United States. The tour then makes its way to the dazzling rue Dénoyez, where it’s legal to carry out as much spraying and tagging as you like. At the end of the street is Belleville’s bustling Chinatown, where two famous pieces can be found: the ‘detective’ by Jean Le Gac which was created in 1986, and an enormous chalk-on-blackboard installation by Ben Vautier. After climbing up a pretty steep hill, the tour ends at Parc de Belleville, the city’s highest elevated park, where you are treated to some instragram-worthy murals by Seth GlobePainter, and not to mention, a breathtaking view of Paris.

Here are some photos of the photos I took during the tour with UndergrounParis:

Shepard Fairley and Chiot

Shepard Fairley and Chiot

Across from UndergroungParis’ office are Shepard Fairey‘s OBEY giant and Chiot‘s colorful ladder work. Shepard Fairey is an American artist and activist known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” (…OBEY…) sticker campaign and Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster for the 2008 US presidential elections. Chiot is a French artist noted for creating his colorful logo of toilets up high on roofs and fire escape ladders.

rue le da Fontaine au Roi

(left) Bastardized bicycle lane and (right) some random pieces at a hot spot on rue Fontaine de la Au Roi

On a wall at the corner of rue le da Fontaine au Roi are works by Monsieur Diamond, COMBO, Monsieur BMX (Ride in Peace) and Mega Matt (who has the same style as Invader).

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VHILS at rue Fontaine de la Au Roi

Walking further along rue Fontaine de la Au Roi is a massive work by VHILS (Alexandre Farto), a renowned international artist from Portugal whose signature style is known as reverse graffiti – where he pulls back layers of the wall’s surface to sculpt faces on it.

Never2501 at rue Bisson

Never2501 at rue Bisson

At rue Bisson is a hypnotizing piece by Never2501 whose technique of using monochromatic line art achieves an organic and 3D feel. It truly is very pleasing to the eyes!

Alexis Diaz at rue Lemon

At rue Lemon is Alexis Diaz‘s ‘Whale Ship”. The Puerto Rican-born artist’s signature mark is the use of small black brushstrokes on white background to make his creations look like highly-detailed pen-and-ink drawings. He is known for his chimeral and dreamlike renditions of fauna in a state of metamorphosis.

Colorful rue Dénoyez

Colorful rue Dénoyez

Rue Dénoyez is a small street overtaken by graffiti and street artists. It is one of the few areas in the city where street art is legal.

other finds in rue Dénoyez

other finds in rue Dénoyez: (left) Fred le Chavelier, another well-loved local artist known for his paste-ups of big-headed red-lipped women; (center) part of the ever-changing walls of the street decorated with quirky stuff; (right) Joris Delacour

Read more about Fred le Chavelier here and here. Visit Joris Delacour’s website here.

(left) Ben Vautier and (right) Jean Le Gac at Place Fréhel in Belleville

(left) Ben Vautier and (right) Jean Le Gac at Place Fréhel in Belleville

Walking along rue de Belleville, home to many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, you won’t miss the massive installation by Ben Vautier, who in 1993, created this work of urban art at Place Fréhel. It depicts two men (actual life-size puppets) lowering a huge blackboard with the words “Il faut se méfier des mots,” which means Beware of Words. Also on the same street corner is a mural of a detective created by Jean Le Gac in 1986.

Seth at Parc de Belleville

Seth at Parc de Belleville

Finally, at Parc de Belleville there are several murals by Julien Malland aka Seth GlobePainter. His vibrant and colorful renditions of children staring into or being sucked by colorful voids, has become popular the world over. Check out more of his work on Instagram and Flickr.

More of Seth's colorful kids at the Parc de Belleville's summit. Notice how the colors of the what the men sitting at the viewing platform is similar to that of his paintings? :)

More of Seth’s colorful kids at the Parc de Belleville’s summit. Notice how the colors of the what the men sitting at the viewing platform is similar to that of his paintings? 🙂

Also at the top of the hill, be treated to a spectacular view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

View of Paris from Parc de Belleville.

View of Paris from Parc de Belleville.

UndergroundParis Street Tours

Belleville Street Art Tour. Every Saturday at 11 AM. Departs from 105 rue Oberkampf, Paris, 75011, in front of Café Place Verte (near to Parmentier metro station – line 3). Finishes close to Belleville metro station – line 2 and 11.

Left Bank Street Art Tour. Every Sunday at 1 PM. Departs from The ‘Wallace Fountain’, Place de la Commune de Paris, 75013 (near to Place d’Italie and Corvisart metro stations – line 5, 6 and 7). Finishes close to Nationale metro station – line 6.

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