lovehearts, street art dope

A while back, I was lucky enough to go on a Street Art tour of London and listening to the knowledgeable guide really opened my eyes to a whole new world I hadn’t known about previously. A world of artists who express themselves through graffiti, stencils, prints, stickers, large-scale paintings and even street installations. Their art is often a means of expressing a political opinion, a message they want to send out to wake the population up to the truth as they see it.

That experience has stayed with me and now, every time I go abroad and visit a new town or city (or visit new places in the UK), I keep an eye out for any eye-catching art.

I’ve heard about Clet Abraham who adds humourous stickers to the Florentine road signs at night. Lorenzo Quinn who installed ‘Support’ – a pair of enormous human hands reaching out of the Grand Canal in Venice, propping up the historic hotel Ca’Sagredo Hotel and making a massive statement about global warming. I now visit a new town or city and look out for the artworks placed there when no one is around, in secret. Sadly it wasn’t there during our day trip in August.

I am hoping to organise a day trip to Paris. With a street art scene stretching back to the 1980’s, Paris has a wonderfully vibrant selection to offer. From Jef Aérosol, one of the first stencil artists who stencilled 350sqm next to the Pompidou Centre in 2011 and entitled his piece Chuuutt!!! (Shh!) to Jérôme Mesnager whose signature white figure ( a symbol of light, strength and peace) has been created in the Ménilmontant neighbourhood, interestingly it was Matisse’s painting, ‘La Danse’ that inspired him.

Following the theme of silhouettes, Nemo’s trademark is a black silhouette of a man wearing a trench coat and fedora. Nemo’s mural of a man on a bicycle can also be found in Menilmontant.

The 13th and 20th arrondissements and Montmartre and Abbesses are also great places to wander on the hunt for street art, Miss Tic has created a pin up-style woman with the words ‘To life, to love”. It is such an appreciated work of art that the city graffiti cleaners are asked to restore this piece rather than remove it.

Of course, not every artist needs graffiti supplies with them like spray cans and paints as artists like Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils, choose walls that have been painted or have certain textures and he strips them back using the various layers to sculpt faces on the wall.

london street art love will tear us apart again

I remember spotting one of Space Invader’s works on the London tour, a tiled mosaic of the pixelated video game Space Invader. Apparently, his first piece ever was in the French capital and also his thousandth in 2011.

Another artist I would like to find on my tour of Paris would be Gregos. I like his work so much, I follow him on Instagram. He makes plaster cast masks of faces and paints them before fixing them to walls all over the world.

Have you come across some great street art abroad? If so where?

Paris rooftops

This year we chose to holiday close to Paris as it was time to introduce the twins to Disneyland Paris, we searched for campsites near to Disneyland Paris and Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont came up which is quite a mouthful but turned out to be the perfect solution.

We discovered they laid on coaches both to Disneyland Paris and also for day trips to Paris.

We decided that I would go on my own as we didn’t think it fair to drag two 6 year olds around a busy city for a long day, so dad stayed back at the campsite and I had a whole day On My Own to rediscover Paris in One Day #1dayinParis

The last time I was in Paris I was 19 and single, I met up with my boyfriend at the time and although we explored a bit we were more interested in the nightlife. This time was to be different.

I did a bit of research before going and there are various lists, top tens and advice out there. I wanted to make the most of my day and decided to go on a hop on hop off bus tour I opted for the one that included the cruise on the Seine too for an extra few euros (1 day adult pass = €38.00)

The Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont coach dropped us off 800 m from the Arc di Triomphe so my Paris in One Day started there.

Arc di Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

The monument stands in the middle of an ENORMOUS roundabout. In fact one beauty of Paris I noted is the roads, they are so wide and give such a feeling of space. There are steps leading down to underground passes to cross the roads and take you directly to the historic monument. My visit was on a Saturday, I had arrived in Paris early in the morning at around 9.30 and the queue was already growing alarmingly fast for those who wished to visit inside and reach the top of the building. As mine was such a rushed visit I opted out of visits this time round and just focused on the beauty outside.

arc de triomphe

The Arc di Triomphe is majestic and the eternal flame is a constant reminder of those lives lost in the battles throughout history.

Tour Eiffel

eiffel tower

I jumped on my Big Bus Tour and followed the route around deciding my second stop would be at the Eiffel Tower. It never ceases to amaze me how big the area is that the Eiffel Tower stands on. It’s bustling with people taking selfies with the new selfie sticks (the latest must-have gadget), queueing for tickets to go up – very big queues, (if you can book before please do as it will save you huge amounts of time).

There were also lots of street sellers with huge rings holding all different sized Eiffel Tower souvenirs, cheap ‘silk’ scarves and other popular items.

Again I chose not to go up this time however I would like to return one day and eat in the second floor restaurant.

The Tour Eiffel is also the departure point for the Seine River Cruise, so I exchanged my Big Bus add on ticket for a cruise one and joined another queue, it was now about 11.00 am.

Eiffel Tower

Seeing Paris from the river is enchanting and the bateau cruises along the river banks whilst you can listen to lots of information on speakers (inside the boat) or sit on top and take in the beauty of Paris.

Seine river cruise

 

It was here I saw my first glimpses of the bridges covered in ‘love locks’ which is all very pretty and sweet but the weight of the world’s love on the bridges is causing huge panels of these fabulous bridges to come away.

Paris is asking the lovers visiting Paris to stop ruining the historic bridges and to think of another way to claim their undying love. If you read the link above you’ll discover lovers are now targeting the Eiffel Tower where 40 locks have been removed recently, I can understand the frustration of the Parisiennes seeing their beautiful city being destroyed by this act of ‘love’. – STOP IT!

love locks in Paris

 

Galeries Lafayette

galeries lafayette

My third stop of the day was to visit the Galeries Lafayette, the ‘Harrods’ of Paris. I had spotted in a book a picture of the fabulous dome that sits in the centre of the building. I had to see it.

Walking amongst the stands in the store, including all of the top French names, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton where people where queueing (again) to get their hands on one of Nicolas Ghesquière’s bags, you arrive in the central part of the building which is an enormous open space.

I felt as if I was in a theatre with rows and rows of balconies looking down on me but the pièce della resistance was looking up at the dome.

Top tip: visit roof terrace on the 7th floor to get the view of the first photo above – breathtaking.

galeries lafayette

Musée du Louvre

Musee du Louvre

Back on my bus I followed the route listening to the very French music as I went, interspersed with nuggets of information of where we were along the way. My next stop was the Louvre museum, home of the famous Italian oil painting the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. I have seen this before on a previous visit so I wasn’t interested in going inside (But if I had been BOOK TICKETS ONLINE as the queues were silly long)

What most people remark on after seeing the Mona Lisa is how small the painting is.

For the first time I looked at the glass pyramid. It is quite odd in the middle of the old surrounding buildings but fits all the same. Urban legend has it that there are 666 pains of glass that go into making up the pyramid, something Dan Browne picked up in in his famous The Da Vince Code books.

 

As I waited for my Big Bus to come along I got to see the locks on the bridges close up and take a look at some painters displaying their pictures along the embankment.

musee du louvre

Notre Dame

notre dame paris

I arrived to a very busy square and an enormous queue to enter the Notre Dame. It is a free entrance and the queue moved fairly quickly but there were people jumping in, an Italian lady wants to thank her lucky stars she chose to jump in behind me and not in front as I can’t bear people who think they are better than the queue and would have given her a piece of my mind.

My walk around the cathedral of Notre Dame was beautifully accompanied by a choir practise making my visit all the more profound. It is a stunning building with beautiful stained glass windows, plenty of statues and history lining the walls and racks and racks of candles to light. I popped my €2 in the box and lit one for all my family.

To go up to the top of the cathedral you must exit the building and go to the side where you will find another queue. I believe there is a small cost but cannot be sure. However should I return to Paris a visit to the Gargoyles is on my list.

I also want to get my hands on a copy of the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Disney. Megan I watched it over and over when she was little and it was one of our favourites.

notre dame paris

Laduree

laduree champs elysees

Founded in 1862, Ladurée make the best macarons in the world. Fact. I wanted to buy some to take home to enjoy with the family back at camp so I joined another queue and waited patiently my turn to enter this beautiful tea shop.

In fact it’s more than a tea shop, you can eat a meal on the terrace outside, you can have tea and pastries inside and there was also a bar.

The choice of macarons is phenomenal and there must have been 10 waiters and waitresses behind the bar serving. I was asked my order at the top of the queue and found my box made at the till. Each macaron costs €1.90.

laduree paris

King George V street cafe – Champs Elysées

I had little more than an hour to kill before my coach home left Paris and I decided to ‘treat’ myself to a glass of wine. I noted a seat free on the street cafe towards the top of the Champs Elysées and sat my weary self down. A waiter appeared from nowhere and I asked for a glass of white wine s’il vous plait. A Burgundy, monsieur advised with a knowing look and I thought it was an excellent suggestion so nodded whole heartedly in approval.

george V champs elysees

I enjoyed every sip and was very tempted to have another but with time ticking on and still a good 15 minute walk I decided against it THANK GOD! My bill came in at €13 for one glass of wine something I bet the owner of this gold car wouldn’t have a problem with, shame he didn’t stop and pick up the tab!

gold car in Paris

It was worth it, it was the perfect ending to a fantastic day and if you’re going to have a cappuccino on Saint Mark’s Square in Venice you’re going to pay for it, likewise for un vert du vin on the Champs Elysées. I did my best to not look like the exhausted tourist I clearly was and I refrained from downing my glass in one go to quench my thirst.

A perfect day and thanks to husband for looking after the girls for me that day. My only regret is I didn’t squeeze in Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur which holds a special fascination for me. I’ll have to go back.

Here are a few shots of my special day.

One day in Paris

As I made my way back to the coach I found a group of men in uniform about to parade down the Champs Elysées, a timely reminder of the importance of the Arc di Triomphe which stood at their shoulders. You can see them in the collage above top right.