When I started planning my trip to Paris, all roads lead to the hilltop village of Butte-aux-Cailles (English translation; Quails Hill). I was looking for a place that I could go in Paris that exhibited local Parisian / French street art and it does not get any more local than the pieces I came across here.
This is not a touristy location so you will not find anything flashy here, just a laid-back atmosphere, winding, cobbled stone streets and an old world feel that makes you feel at home right away. If you are looking for a couple of hours away from the hustle and bustle from the heart of Paris, this is the place to head.
There are several cute little shops to wander through, plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can grab lunch for about 10-15 euros. and street art galore! Of course, you know that is why I had to come here.
Getting to La Butte-aux-Cailles:
Located in the 13th arrondissement, it does not take that long to get here. We were in the 3rd, and it only took up about 10-15 minutes. The fastest way to get here is to hop on the metro (line 6) and get off at the Corvisart stop. When you exit, head under the bridge, and walk up the stairs (only about 2 dozen of them). When you get to the community garden at the top of the stairs, keep following the path to the left and you will end up on Rue des Cinq Diamants. This is where you begin to explore this quaint little community. You don’t need a map because it’s not very big, just wander around the little streets and see what it has to offer you today.
The of History La Butte-aux-Cailles:
Once inhabited by quails, this land was also a large vineyard which was purchased by Monsieur Pierre Caille which is how the name came about for this village.
The Street Art – Paris’ La Butte-aux-Cailles:
As you walk around Butte-aux-Cailles, you will find there is not a lack of street art. You will find it is concentrated in certain areas and the styles vary. There is so much talent in such a small area.
One of the first large murals you see is my Seth (can be found on Instagram @seth_globepainter). It was painted in 2018 and is possibly the most creative work here. Yes, that is a real lamppost and he incorporated it into his mural.
As you walk around Butte-aux-Cailles, you will see more of children playing around this village so keep your eye peeled for them.
Next to it, you will find a work by Bebar. His work is so large and colorful. An interesting fact about him is that while he is known for graffiti art, his favorite surface to work on is actually human skin. He loves to do body-art, tattoo, face-painting.
You can even find a couple of Ladybug’s (@ladybugnantes on Instagram) pointillism works around here. From Nantes, she came to Paris early in 2019 and left behind a handful of murals. If you haven’t seen one in person, I highly recommend searching one of these out. There is so much detail you will have a hard time believing you are looking at street art.
Check out the amount of work that she puts into the facial expressions as well!
I even came across one by David Selor’s (@selor_street_art) in a doorway. I was so happy when I came across another one a couple of days later in the Place d’Espagne (Spanjeplein) in Brussels.
While this area exhibits typical street art (painted / spray painted), many of the pieces are paste-ups or wheat paste. This style of street art goes back to the roots in Paris back in the 1970’s. These artists were known for using this technique for their posters which eventually evolved into paste-up.
One of the things that makes this form different and special from other street art is the fact that the artist can spend more time on the front end focusing on the content that they are creating for the world to see. When I was in Amsterdam, I had the chance to see one of these artists at work. He was poster bombing (also known as flyposting) his work up along Spuistraat.
It is messy work, but it is so fast to get these pieces up. He applied the paste on the building’s flat surface, put his art on it (in this case it was a white dove) and added a layer of paste on top of it as he used a roller to get out any bubbles and little ridges and added additional paste. A paint brush can be used to do the last portion, as well. This topcoat of paste is necessary to help with the life expectancy of the paste-up. With the topcoat, it can last approximately 6 months long, without it will be less than a month.
It is understandable why this would have been an art form of choice if you wanted to get works up quickly, that could convey a lot of information (potentially political) and make it fairly easy to move along at a fast pace.
Oh, and yes in case you are wondering, Paris has very strict laws against vandalism and damaging of public property that includes jail time and fines.
I hope if you are in Paris you will find the time to visit this little village or one of the other off the beaten path sections of this amazing city to see how the real people live. Also, to find some of the beautiful and unique art like I have shown here and more.
Now that you have wandered around Butte-aux-Cailles with me, you might be interested in checking out more street art around Paris. If so, check out my blog on Rejected Paris street art.
Have you previous heard of La Butte-aux-Cailles? If not, does this post make you want to go there? Please feel free to leave your comments below and sign up so I can notify you when the next post is available.
I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.
© 2020 Nina Zee