- Words and Photos by Sarah Sansom
On the Road: Paris, 13th Arrondissement
'Fille au Parapluie' by Seth, painted 2013 at 2 Rue Emile Deslandres.
If you've seen images of Parisian street art, you've probably seen some of the spectacular murals in the 13th Arrondissement. Created though an initiative by Itinerrance Gallery and the Mayor's office, the area features 28+ murals from local and international artists including Seth, C215, D-Face, INTI and Shepard Fairey. Artists have taken advantage of the district's architecture of high-rise apartment buildings, built for waves of immigrant populations over the years.
“My goals are many: to share art with the most people possible, beautify the city, and give an identity to our arrondissement. Today, around each new project, the inhabitants get together to choose the artwork and accompany the artist during its realization... It has created a real sense of collective and civic pride.” - Mayor Jérôme Coumet.
We've complied a tour through the area's highlights, including some of the newest pieces painted this year. Walk along with us!
For the longer version of this tour, start at Seth's umbrella girl north-west of Place d'Italie (above) and take a moment to enjoy the flying fish brightening up the neighborhood. To your right, take the quaint Rue Gustave Geffroy to Avenue Des Gobelins, then turn right down to Place d'Italie. Take a left on Boulevard Vincent Auriol, the main artery that hosts some of the biggest art (start here if you have less time).
You'll see this brand new Hownosm mural on your right:
Hownosm 'Sun-Daze' painted April 2019 at 169 Boulevard Vincent Auriol above a Fromager.
'Our latest mural focuses on the state of mind or place that is often associated with Sundays that promotes well-being and relaxation. Combine the positive energy and warmth of outstanding friendships and family and you'll be in a "Sun-daze" state of mind.' - Hownosm, Instagram
As you continue down the Boulevard, you'll come to the mural I'd been waiting for years to see:
C215's 82-ft Blue Cat, painted 2013 at 143 Boulevard Vincent Auriol.
“A lovely simple cat” as the artist said, 'I decided to make it simple, I love making simple things... I wanted the cat to become the cat of the neighborhood; I wanted people to be happy when they see him from the Metro, to love him. I hope soon people will say, Let’s meet at the cat!.'
Blue is the artist’s favorite color, the color of the sky. 'Why a cat? Because the cat is the symbol of freedom, and freedom is what artists seek.' - Christian Guemy, Underground Paris.
Just above, you'll recognize Shepard Fairey's patriotic mural:
'Liberté Egalité Fraternité' by Shepard Fairey, 2016 at 186 Rue Nationale, depicts the French national motto “liberty, equality, fraternity". The colors of the French flag are said to represent white for the clergy, red for nobility and blue for the bourgeoisie
Turn around to see this epic mural:
'Turncoat' by London artist DFace, aka Dean Stockton, painted April 2018, his 2nd in the district at 147 Boulevard Vincent Auriol.
Next, turn left and cross the boulevard to Place Pinel, enjoying this C215, Cranio, and Bom K as you go:
'Mon robot te botte le derriere' by Bom K, founder of the DMV (Da Mental Vaporz) Crew
As you circle Place Pinel you'll see Jorge Gerada, DFace's large couple (not shown), BTOY and C215:
Philippe Pinel by Jorge Gerada, painted 2013. Pinel was instrumental in the development of a more humane care of psychiatric patients and is described as “the father of modern psychiatry”.
Large stencil at 2 Rue Esquirol by female artist BTOY, who recently painted in New York with Street Art for Mankind, and a smaller C215 portrait.
Return to the Boulevard and cross back to the 'Cat' side of the street. Turn left and continue down the boulevard. On the right you'll see this ceramic-effect mural, along with a MAYE African character on orange (not shown):
'Envolvente' by Add Fuel (Diogo Machado) April 2019, 135 Boulevard Vincent Auriol. The title, in Portuguese, refers to 'something enveloping and blending perfectly with the surface'.
When you reach the corner, you'll see this to your right:
Revolution, Shepard Fairey, June 2012, 93 Rue Jeanne d’Arc.
Turn away from Revolution, cross the Boulevard and you'll see these Faile and Seth murals up Rue Jeanne d'Arc:
Enter the Vortex, painted by Seth in May 2019, 110 Rue Jeanne d'Arc.
This stunning anamorphic mural was completed in time for a June 13 street party celebrating the inauguration of Boulevard Paris 13, the official website of the district's project (see video below).
Tip: wait for a resident to exit and slip into the front garden to see the full mural of the boy (click images to enlarge)
Ballet dancer painted 2016 with help from local children by Brooklyn's Faile, formed of artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller
Continue up the street to these giant stencils on the right:
Austrian/French artist couple Jana & JS, painted 2011 at 110 Rue Jeanne d”Arc (click for full images)
Return to the Boulevard and walk a little further down Rue Jeanne d'Arc to this symbolic OBEY mural:
'Delicate Balance' by Shephard Fairey, part of his "Earth Crisis" series, painted 2015 at 60 Rue Jeanne d'Arc.
Fairey painted this in tandem with an installation at the Eiffel Tower, “I’m not an alarmist, but I do think people need to understand that we are facing an earth crisis. I think it is exciting that the globe provides different experiences for the viewer from a distance and up close while living in the heart of the Eiffel Tower.” - Shepard Fairey, Hypebeast.
Return to the Boulevard and turn right, continuing until you see this on your right side:
'Accolade' by Conor Harrington, painted 2017 on a surface 398 ft high and 33 ft wide, 85 Boulevard Vincent-Auriol
Continue down the Boulevard and you'll find this INTI mural on an open square:
'Madre Secular’ by Chile's INTI, painted 2016, 81 Boulevard Vincent Auriol.
A close up showing the Bolivian textile patterns often featured in the artist's work
Return along the Boulevard and turn left on Rue Dunois. Before long you'll spot this miniature mosaic:
Invader PA_527, Rue Dunois.
Turn right on Rue Glisson, left on Rue Jeanne d'Arc, right at Place Jeanne d'Arc and along Rue Lahire a little to this:
INTI, painted November 2012, the artist's first mural in Paris at 13 Rue Lahire.
You can end your tour here, but if you have more time, you can add a bonus section. Walk south through Place Jeanne d'Arc to see this New York scene:
Logan Hicks, at 23 Place Jeanne d’Arc & Place Souham.
Continue down Rue Jeanne d'Arc four blocks, turn left on Rue Cantagrel. At the end of the road turn left on Rue Eugene Odiné, then quickly right on Rue du Chevaleret (11 minutes total). You'll see this up high:
Tristan Eaton, appropriately painted at 12 Rue du Chevaleret.
Then it's a short walk down Rue du Chevalaret to Rue Regnault, where you will see this at the end of the buildings:
REKA at 18 Rue Regnault.
Facing the Reka mural, turn right and continue to the end of Rue Regnault. Climb up the steps to see this. It's worth it!
Owl by Bordalo ll with Mathgoth Gallery at 3u Rue Louise Bourgeois.
You've reached the end of the tour. Across the main boulevard here there are sidewalk restaurants and bars, as well as a biopark, the National Library (a sight in itself) and both Itinerrance and Mathgoth Galleries, which feature street art.
“A museum under the open sky in the 13th arrondissement of Paris”
- Itinerrance Gallery
See Street Art Cities for a live map: