Paris’s urban art movement started around the 1960s and since then it's blossomed into a street art heaven; with colorful canvases all over the city. The suburbs of the capital, outer arrondissements and center provide local and international artists with incredible spaces to design, paint and create contemporary street art. As one of the European hubs for innovative and colorful art, for centuries, Paris has attracted artists from around the world. With around 130 museums in Paris, there is so much art to see, but what about the local, contemporary art that lies beyond the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay or Musée Rodin? Grab a pair of good walking shoes and peel back the layers of the subculture arts scene of Paris. Be quick though, as eventually, the art will disappear. This very ephemeral quality adds to the works’ mystery and charm. If you are visiting the capital and are a keen art-lover, check out this roundup of the best street art in Paris.
Rue Saint-Maur is quickly turning into one of the best streets where artists put up their work. Here, the Paris street walls are the best canvasses. Near the junction with Rue Oberkampf, another great artsy street, stands one of the more famous works of the area. The artwork was mainly painted by local artist Kashink; who is one of the most active female artists and one of the most notable Paris street artists. Her works have drawn comparisons to that of Frida Kahlo’s and have a strong feminist vibe which really brings life and vibrancy to the area. Kashinks colorful pieces successfully defy the status quo and bring important social issues to the forefront of the city’s art movement. The 2km-long street in the 10th and 11th arrondissements is ripe for artistic exploration. Wander through the colourful streets, let your imagination run wild and keep your eyes peeled for pavement, wall and hidden gem art. In the area, you’ll also see classic elements of Parisian street art like Invader’s video game-inspired tilework and black-and-white portraits by Shepard Fairey.
A colorful neighborhood where you can see urban art in Paris, the Rue Oberkampf in the 11th arrondissement has art popping up all the time. The art that you will find here on the Rue Oberkampf truly depicts life in Paris. This is the street to head to if you want to admire these works while having fun with a beer in hand. Experience art being painted on the sides of buildings, walkway benches, and metal door shutters. An organization called Le MUR or Modulable Urbain Reactif is responsible for the iconic vibrant Paris wall art here. A good shout for a lively night out once you’ve got your art and culture fix, Rue Oberkampf sees new artists transforming the area every few weeks, and the performances usually attract a sizable crowd. Wondering where to find street art in Paris? Check out Rue Oberkampf where you can see work from the likes of Jerome Mesnager and Nemo.
Rue des Cascades
In the 20th Arrondissement, in Belleville, you will find yourself feeling enchanted by beautiful historic streets that are jam-packed with some of the best Paris street art. Soak up the artistic charisma and charming vibe of one of the highest hill areas in Paris. Quiet and lined with low houses and trees, strolling through the area is the perfect antidote to busy Parisian streets. Enjoy the atmosphere of the neighborhood on the Road of the Waterfalls. At number 42, you can find the Saint-Martin Manhole; a small stone building that gave access to pipelines in the capital. In 2016, renowned Australian artist James Cochran, also known as Jimmy.C, transformed the walls into a heavenly sight with his Van Gogh-inspired mural.
Rue Germaine Tailleferre
Built around 1999, and a relatively new road by Parisian standards, the Rue Germaine Tailleferre is home to an ongoing stretch of wall which runs parallel to the canal and into the Parc de la Villette. The huge stretch of wall, several hundred meters along on one side of the street, is completely covered with vibrant art by some of the area’s biggest names. Up alongside the Canal de l’Ourcq, you can wander through hundreds of murals done by both professional and amateur street artists, such as the masterpiece in blue by Marko93, who also goes by the name DarkVapor. The native of the Saint-Denis area is renowned for his explorations in the photographic technique of light painting. This street in particular, rue Germaine Tailleferre, has been host to a huge array of artists over the years: so don’t miss it from your Paris street art tour.
The Left Bank
The Left Bank, situated in the 13th Arrondissement, found on the south side of the River Seine is home to both international and local artist’s creations. The streets of the Left Bank are a haven for culture lovers. Be sure to check out the art of Vhils who has his work on display here. A renowned Portuguese graffiti artist, and alongside other painters, Vhils created colorful masterpieces that embody the social, political, cultural, and traditional aspects of the city. Most of these are done in a modern contemporary style and can be easily appreciated by passers-by. In recent years, the 13th arrondissement has become the hotspot for Paris street artists and is now a veritable open-air museum. In the vicinity of the Nationale metro station, on the Rue Jeanne d'Arc and Boulevard Vincent Auriol, you can see so much art for free simply wandering these beautiful corners of Paris.
Rue Laurence Savart
Located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, the Rue Laurence Savart, a slender, cobbled street, has long been popular with artists and art lovers. Way back in 1947, the beautiful streets were photographed by the award-winning photographer Willy Ronis; and the iconic black and white creation of a man carrying a window pane up its slope recently sold at auction for 1200 euros. Today, the area remains an artist’s dream, developing a reputation for its vibrant collection of street art. Stop by the creations of Mosko et associés; part of a collective’s project which sees the creation of a different kind of urban jungle for Paris. You only have to stroll around the area to come face to face with a masterpiece like this; don’t miss the Rue Laurence Savart where you can find some of the best street art in Paris.
Rue de L’Ourcq
The Paris street art adventure continues a little further along rue de l’Ourcq in the 19th district. Here, you can yet again get to see the works of the famous street artist Marko93, who has nicknamed himself The French Lighter, due to his ongoing exploration with light and dark elements in his pieces. In one of his iconic giant frescoes, Marko paid tribute for the second time to Frida Kahlo; the iconic female artist known for her role in the emancipation of women. Kahlo became a national symbol after the Mexican revolution in 1910 and is often seen surrounded by animals. Kahlo’s passion for animals is shown in Marko’s creation. Experimenting with large feline eyes, Marko successfully created a stunning work of art. Wander through these Parisian streets and see if you can spot any of Marko’s creations.
Art lovers won’t want to miss a bridge over the railway tracks leading in and out of Gare du Nord, linking the 18th and 19th Arrondissements. A little-known huge Paris street painting stands on a 500 meter-long street; it is actually the largest dedicated space in Paris for art. Formed in December 2015 in honor of the life and achievements of Rosa Parks, the Rue Riquet art opening saw five international artists, four of which were female creators: Paris’ Kashink, Nantes’ Katjastroph, Bogota’s Bastardilla, New York’s Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Toulouse’s Zepha. As with the majority of street art in Paris, the surrounding area is changing rapidly, fueled by municipal investment and enthusiastic community projects, exemplified by the Centquat. The ephemeral nature of the art in the area adds to the charm and importance of the work by great female artists. The area is a must-see for any art-lover in Paris.
Back in the 18th, the extensive wall on Rue Ordener, which obstructs the sight of the abandoned SNCF depot turned seasonal venue, Grand Train, is fruitful ground for local Parisian graffiti artists. A constantly evolving mix of art, no visit to the area can ever be the same. One of the most notable pieces of the area was the work of Kouka; a Parisian artist whose debut Bantu Warriors series made him an immediate icon in the capital. The notable Chimpanzees series was one of the best pieces of street art in Paris. It saw an attempt to remind Parisian locals and visitors who they are, what they are and where they came from; but also what they’d be without their collective cultural heritage.
Rue de l’Elysée Ménilmontant and Rue Julien Lacroix
The final location on my Paris street art tour once again transports you to the 20th arrondissement. Along the crossroads of Rue de l’Elysée Ménilmontant and Rue Julien Lacroix is a huge and yet incredibly detailed mural made by No Rules Corp. A truly stunning piece of work that goes way beyond the usual Paris guidebook, the collaborative effort includes street artists, painters, musicians, and videographers. The graffiti element by EvazéSir has a distinctive style that you can see dotted around other Paris street art spots. For me, this city is a woman; it’s so beautiful and elegant, so stylish, so unique, with its charming boulevards, distinct architecture, and quirky differences in each district. The street art in Paris absolutely embodies this femininity. Exploring the city’s street art is one of the top things to do in Paris; allowing full immersion into the world of the Parisian subculture.
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