Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: murals

Paris, je t’aime…?

The curious thing about the verb “to love” in French – “aimer” – Is that it is the same as the word for “to like”, so the title of this post is a slight play on words. (“Je t’aime” = “I love you” or “I like you”.) You see, I’ve never loved Paris, not even liked. If you’ve ever read my posts on Paris, you would have seen that I make this point clear every time, and I’ll spare you the explanations. However, my most recent visit to Paris last month changed it all and I might even say…that I like Paris now, just a little…?

The original plan was to go to Paris with my friend TK, who’s never visited. I mean why else would I go back to a city that I never liked? Everything was booked except…TK missed her flight back to the UK because of Typhoon Hato in Macau, and that was the day before leaving for Paris. WELL THAT AIN’T COOL. Consequently, whereas the two of us were supposed to fly together from Glasgow to Paris, I ended up flying alone and spending the weekend in Paris without a companion…well that’s not true, I ended up meeting a lot of old friends as a result. In fact, the trip turned out to be a lot more interesting than I had expected.

Aside from my sudden lack of company, the most unconventional thing that I did this time around was that I left my DSLR at home and only had my phone camera on me, so all photos were taken and edited on my phone. I had to learn to not rely on Mr. Nikon all the time, and it was not easy! Also, at this point, the glamorous side of Paris (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc.) doesn’t appeal to me anymore, and I was more drawn towards the local neighbourhoods that were just waiting to be discovered. With a bit of research beforehand, I narrowed down my long weekend to a few places that I wanted to see…beware of photo spam coming up!

Coulée Verte René-Dumont

If there was a place that could define “urban oasis”, then this was it. Situated in the 12th arrondissement, the “coulée verte” is a park-like promenade that spans ~5 km from nearby the Place de la Bastille to the edge of central Paris. I only walked part of the elevated segment, from one end of the Viaduc des Arts (which itself was a place I had wanted to visit) to Bastille, and what a nice walk! From 10 metres above ground, you traverse the heart of the 12th through a long garden full of greenery, with many viewpoints of the city and several fun murals along the way. Joggers seemed to particularly love this place, as there were plenty of them passing by in each direction. Certainly a quick and easy escape to an otherwise hectic Parisian city life!

Père Lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise is a huge public cemetery in the 20th arrondissement of Paris where many famous people including Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Bizet were buried. Walking through the cemetery was like taking a stroll in a maze covered by fallen leaves upon the remains of those who have passed. The peace and silence were calming but not eerie, and I would have liked to spend more time there if it weren’t 30 degrees Celsius that day and if I hadn’t already walked all day…

Rue Crémieux

The first thought I had upon turning into this secluded street in the 12th arrondissement was, “Seriously this exists in Paris?!?!?” Delicate houses with colourful shades of pastel on both sides – you would have thought this was Burano or Cinque Terre but no, there it was, right in the midst of a grey, busy Paris. I could see why this place is often overlooked – the “entrance” is so inconspicuous that you’d have to actually know where you’re going to find it, but wow it was a beautiful street. The walls of each house was painted in a different colour with a different design on each door, and my favourite would have to be the pastel green house with the painted tree and the motorcycle parked in front. Such a unique find!

Mur des je t’aime

I guess this photo fits today’s post quite well seeing that it’s all about “love” or “je t’aime”. This is also probably the most “touristy” and well-known place out of all the ones in Paris I’m writing about here. The “I love you wall” has, as the name implies, “I love you” written in over 200 languages. Though it’s situated in a small park right outside Abbesses metro station at the foot of Montmartre, it is easily overlooked because people usually just head up to Montmartre and don’t venture into the park. A lot of couples come here to take their photos taken for obvious reasons, and I actually thought that it was cuter and more creative than the love-lock bridges that seem to be everywhere nowadays. I rather liked the quote that was inscribed above the wall: “Aimer c’est du désordre…alors aimons!” (Translation: “Loving is chaotic…so let’s love!”)

Parc Buttes-Chaumont

The Parc Buttes-Chaumont, located in the 19th arrondissement, is another one of those places where locals go to escape from the city centre. With an artificial lake, a small temple perched on top of a cliff in the middle of the lake, and several bridges crossing the lake, the atmosphere of this green haven was peaceful yet dynamic, as there were many runners, cyclists, and dog walkers throughout the park. In fact this was a lovely place for a picnic, but I had to catch a flight that afternoon and didn’t have time to prepare for a picnic. Not wanting to miss out on a beautiful day, my friend MM and I went to the nearby McDonald’s and grabbed some good ol’ burgers and wraps, found a space on one of the grassy areas, and enjoyed a sunny break with many locals who decided to do the same. Not a conventional picnic, alright, but still cherished as we had so little time to spend together!

Murals

Murals are one of my favourite types of art. Though I have heard of the street art scene in Paris, I had not intended to look for street art specifically during this trip. That is, until I caught a glimpse of several gigantic murals out the window of the subway during one segment of the ride on line 6 that was overground. WHAT. The bonus point is that it was actually only one stop from where I was staying, near Place d’Italie, and I estimated that it would take no more than 10 minutes to walk from my hotel to the mural area. Well then LET IT BE DONE. On the last morning of my stay, I went down Boulevard Vincent-Auriol from Place d’Italie and as expected, found no fewer than 10 impressive murals in various locations within a 15-minute walk (some shown here), on both sides of the street. Some of them were so huge and impressive that I had to stop and marvel for a good 5 minutes before continuing the hunt for the next. Now this was a surprise and certainly THE highlight of the trip. I late found out that the 13th is actually famous for its street art in Paris…well I know where I’m staying again next time! (Side note: the drawings on the wall in the Bastille metro station on line 1 and the ones outside of Gare de Lyon were also spectacular!)

Friends

Of course I had to meet up with some friends in Paris. The original plan of showing TK around Paris was completely foiled, and so I had more time than originally anticipated to spend with friends living in Paris. These were mostly old friends that I met in Bordeaux during my PhD days, those who in the past years have either settled down or been temporarily working in Paris. I had the chance to eat delicious grilled seafood at the famous Pedra Alta with Jiang, explore much of the above-described parts of Paris with MM, and attend Ara and Victor’s wedding celebration (where I also saw Diana and Edgar too, of course!) Definitely not a weekend wasted! Sorry TK, you’d have to come back to Paris again some other time 😦

So, this turned out to be the longest and perhaps happiest and most positive Paris-related post that I’ve ever written in my blog, and I’ve written…quite a few. I guess I can now say, perhaps with a little less reluctance…Paris, je t’aime 😉

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Street art in Glasgow, part 2

It’s been more than 6 months since the initial “Street art in Glasgow” post, and last weekend, I finally got some free time to track down some more murals and street art in this city, following the official “mural trail”. They really are everywhere, and so impressive too! I didn’t manage to find everything that was on the trail, but I did stumble upon a few surprises that weren’t part of the official trail. Let’s take a look.

Let’s start with my favourite one of them all, which I think was completed very recently. This gigantic mural is the work of artist Sam Bates, otherwise known as “Smug”, whose hands were the creators of several other works, including the girl with the magnifying glass in the previous post. I wasn’t aware of the existence of this mural as I was walking in the opposite direction on High Street. I saw someone take a photo of something behind me, and as I turned around, I was awed. Such beautiful piece of artwork with so much detail and colour, but the Man and the Bird (which is what I decided to call it as I don’t know if it has an official name) also elicited emotional resonance in addition to the visual pleasure. Oh, and this isn’t currently on the mural trail, so it was definitely the best surprising find of the day!

This is Glasgow’s Tiger, an installation that can be found along the quay of the Clyde River in downtown Glasgow. Previously, it had been a fiery tiger drawn in a different style (which I haven’t seen), but it had been replaced with the image of a realistic beast watching the river. While the tiger looked solemn and majestic, some people seemed to enjoyed using it as a backdrop as they danced to some music in its presence!

In an unassuming parking lot on Ingram Street in the heart of Merchant City, another piece of artwork by Smug revealed itself, named Fellow Glasgow Residents. Apparently this mural is supposed to represent the different types of animals found in Glasgow’s green space, appearing through what looks like holes in the wall. The three images form one long stretch from left to right and is so impressive that it makes one wonder if this is really a parking lot or a magnificent outdoor gallery… 😛

This lively mural on Argyle Street seems to show an unconventional type of bar – one entirely managed by animals! We’ve got an elephant, a shark, a walrus, a bear, a rhinoceros as the bartender, and a zebra and a moose having a relaxing drink. What a place! I wonder if the Scottish would like to frequent such a place – perhaps the zoo staff went on strike and the animals escaped?

Clutha, a piece installed at the Clutha Bar, is a work by Rogue-One, another artist who has contributed many pieces of stunning work to the city, with the Flying Taxi and the Cat with the Caged Birds featured previously.

I often pass by the Hip Hop Marionettes, another piece by Rogue-One, when I cross John Street. Taken from the description in the official mural trail brochure: “We thought that an interesting concept would be to have body-poppers or break-dancers in puppet form. I took my influence from a Beastie Boys cover and a Run DMC picture.”

The walls of some of the buildings in the University of Strathclyde also have some very colourful paintings that make you wonder if they are the entrances to art studios instead of offices and classrooms. The painting of a girl about to open a door located at the corner of Grahma Hills Building had me confused for several weeks, as THE DOOR was so realistic that I thought it was A REAL DOOR. I thought it was smart to paint a girl opening a real door, but when one day I finally realised that the door was a painting…it was a moment of utmost epiphany. Is this what art does to you?!

Continuing on with the Strathclyde series, just above the girl opening the door is this long, giant mural of what seems to depict classroom life at Strathclyde. It kind of reminds me of the days in undergrad, with rows and rows of desks and benches and many sleepy students that didn’t sleep till 3am the previous night…though the ones on the wall seemed (mostly) wide awake!

Further along George Street, we have a technology-themed and an ocean-themed mural here amidst some of the science buildings of Strathclyde. Seems like Strathclyde (and the city centre as a whole) has a lot of these full-length building murals, and I am genuinely impressed…once again!

As I have mentioned at the very beginning, I haven’t completed the mural trail and some of the murals on the trail actually eluded me even though I supposedly passed by the spots where they were supposed to be. So, knowing me, I will set out again to find those that are still scattered around the city, and a part 3 will be posted!

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