Tag Archives: belleville

Artsy Fartsy à Paris: 5 free activities for the creative explorer

If you think getting lost in the Louvre, wandering through Musée d’Orsay and emptying your wallet as you go is the only way to enjoy the arts in Paris, you’re missing out. Some of the best creative ventures in this city are actually the freebies, you just have to know where to find them.

Here are my top 5 (free!) Parisian activities for the artistic explorer:

Door, 59 Rivioli

1. Artists’ studios six stories high at 59 Rue Rivoli. 

This place is an endless treasure trove of living art. The artists who work here open their doors to the public Tuesday through Sunday, showcasing their work as they create it. There is always something new, and the artists are always ready for art talk. Métro: Châtelet

2. Slam poetry at Au Chat Noir. 

Every Monday night, Spoken Word Paris hosts an open mic event for poets, musicians, comedians and all-in-one performers. Entry is free, and if you get there before 9 pm, you’ll be able to catch the bar’s excellent happy hour. Métro: Parmentier

Tunnel Matt and Flora snap a photo

3. Take a graffiti tour of Belleville, one of Paris’s most happening neighborhoods. 

I got to do this a couple of weeks ago with some friends. Check out my post here to get some good tips and see my photos! 

4. Go to see an exhibit at the Jardin du Luxembourg. 

The Luxembourg Gardens have two free art exhibits: The first is along the gates on the outside of the gardens, where different photography exhibits are posted throughout the year. The second can be found inside, on the northwest corner, across from the little rose garden. Both are open to the public, and always evolving. Métro: Notre-Dame-des-Champs/St. Placide

La Seine

5. Go out for a night of dancing along the Seine at Quai Saint Bernard. 

If it isn’t raining, you can count on the many passionate dancers of Paris Danse en Seine to be tangoing, salsa-ing or folk-ing in one of the 3 amphitheaters at Quai Saint Bernard. Go and watch the dancers or join in yourself! La folie continues until midnight. Métro: Jussieu

This is only the beginning. If you have your own favorite freebies in Paris, share them in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list! 

Enjoy your creative adventure,

Savannah

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One thing you will NOT find in your Paris guide book: the Belleville graffiti tour

Parental Warning: The following article may encourage your child to vandalize public property in the name of art. 

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Is it possible to adore graffiti without promoting illegal activities? Is this like the square and the rectangle, or am I required to admit to one if I want to have the other? So be it then—I think graffiti, masterfully done and tastefully placed, enriches our society. Take Paris, for instance, with its once-marble-white walls, stained by centuries of dirt and decapitations. A splash of color and a slew of provocative phrases make the place much more interesting and far less dreary. At least that’s what I discovered last weekend.

La Horde UrbaineEnjoy the silenceRue Dénoyez

My friend Matt (merci des centaines fois!) took a group of us on a graffiti tour of one of Paris’s coolest neighborhoods, Belleville. Hip. Edgy. Cheap. Happening. Belleville is the hub of this city’s eccentric, grungy underground.

Whispy Blue Matt and Flora snap a photoWritten on the wall

There is graffiti all over this neighborhood, so naturally there is no set route. However, if you’re going to go on a tour yourself, you should make sure to hit these key spots:

  • Le MUR: This is an ever-changing mural on the corner of rue St. Maur and rue Oberkampf that is supported by the Association Modulable, Urbain, Réactif. The association invites a different street artist to come paint a new mural every month or so. It’s a true example of living art.
  • Rue Dénoyez (pictured above): This is perhaps the most graffitied street in Paris. Full of artists’ studios, restaurants and cafés, Rue Dénoyez is an entire museum in and of itself.
  • La Petite Ceinture: “The Little Belt” (pictured below) is an abandoned railway that runs around the periphery of Paris. It was used back in the 1800s, but was later abandoned in the 1930s as the city evolved. Now, it’s a canvas.

Paint BartHappiness is too shortTunnel

If you’re hoping to see a side of Paris you’ve yet to discover, a graffiti tour of Belleville is sure to deliver. In only a couple of hours you can escape the classic Parisian ambiance and enter the city’s edgy alternative universe.

Now go out there and be a hipster.

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