The Paris arts and leisure scene is pretty amazing. One of the many things I love is how much effort the city goes through to make a pleasant environment for its inhabitants in the summer. A few years ago, the city decided that if Parisians can’t get to the beach, the beach would come to them. The Paris Plages were born. Kilometer-long beaches are set up along the Seine river in various spots every summer that include lounge chairs, umbrellas, free water, coffee and games. It’s a fun way to spend the day if the weather is nice.
How many cities do you know that set up beach volleyball courts right in front of city hall?The courts in front of the Hotel de Ville are very active during the time they are set up, and it’s pretty cool to watch a game as you wander by. Plus, one of my favorite department stores in just down the street. BHV (Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville) has everything from drills to rugs to clocks to designer clothes to a nail bar (as in polish, not hammers). I was there almost every day while we were renovating our apartment in Paris.
Street art happens all over the city in Paris. One artist who is widely recognized is Invader (no one knows his real name). Since 1998, he has been adorning city walls with his pixelated tiles that look like they are from the 80s arcade game Space Invaders. They are now in over 60 cities throughout the world including on the giant Hollywood sign in California. You can find a listing of all his “invasions” here: Invasion map
Le Diamant is a street artist who evolved from doing graffiti to three-dimensional mirrored diamonds. He was strongly influenced by Invader from whom he realized that he needed to have a signature style. He uses only mirrors that he finds on the street and then cuts and paints them. In the last two years, he’s stuck over 400 diamonds on the walls of Parisian streets. You can check out his Facebook page here: Diamant Street Artist
Gz Up is a French street artist known for his Octopus-like characters taken from the video game Wonderboy that he makes from plywood and hangs high up on street corners. He thinks that art should be available to everyone, not just those who go to galleries. He’s got over 214 of his octopi around Paris.
I was really excited to hear that there was a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit going on at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. Lichtenstein is one of the more famous pop artists from the 60s who became famous by elevating everyday things to cult status (like Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup cans). Lichtenstein is known for his cartoon renderings, and I love his colorful and iconic paintings. I always wonder what the backstory is to his work because he only paints a single single scene, such as the one below (I guess that’s probably the point!)
The Georges Pompidou Centre is a work of art itself. The building is built inside out with the structure, all the pipes and the escalators on the outside. The pipes are painted different colors depending on what their function is. The Centre is one of the tallest buildings in the middle of the city and the top floor affords one of the best views of all of Paris.
Hope you enjoyed my view of Paris arts and leisure!