Paris Murs

The walls of Paris provide an ideal canvas to showcase the work of street art. It’s an alternative perspective on the city.

I’ve been walking the same streets and re-tracing my steps countless times to observe the ephemeral and the permanent. While Mosko et Associés prowling tigers at Villa de L’Ermitage are long gone the urban tigers at Rue des Rosiers remain much as I first found them in 2006 – though someone has added ‘nature strikes back’ over the original work.

As street art has become more popular, and sanctioned by local councils, walls can become shared spaces with regular ‘exhibitions’ to maintain a constant cycle of new work.

Some spaces remain permanent such as Mesnager’s homage to Matisse on rue de Menilmontant.

Then there are the spaces that incorporate the response of one artist to another, such as Mesnager’s overlays on the work of Nemo and Mosko et Associés.

The walls and the work continue to evolve and warrant regular visits.

I’m grateful to Kasia Klon who arranges street art tours in Paris and ‘Invisible Paris Walks’ for giving me a greater insight into what I see on the walls of Paris.

The artists whose work I have catalogued over the past years include;

Bernard Bellon

BMX ride in peace

Claude Feuillet 

Clet Abraham 

Jérôme Mesnager 


Mosko et Associé 

Mr Pee


Philippe Hérard 


Paris Lovelocks

I first came across lovelocks on Pont des Artes in Paris in November 2011 and I’ve read countless blogs about the appearance and re-appearance of these lovelocks on paris bridges.

During my most recent trip to Paris in late November 2013 the lovelocks of Pont des Artes have transformed to form a wall of multi-coloured locks on the surface of the bridge – a pattern of little shapes declaring undying love and togetherness. As the real estate of the main bridge becomes oversubscribed the locks have found their way to the bridge approaches – and other bridges in Paris that provide a way to attach a lock.

As we look at the walls of locks the individual declarations of love and togetherness are lost in the crowd – its seems that with some the writing has worn off, or in some instances the declaration of love is for country or some other purpose.

The ever inventive tourist touts of Paris have found a new market of goods beyond the eiffel towers and I love Paris t-shirts. If you haven’t brought your own lock they will sell you one – and a marker pen to write your message… I wonder if the lock-makers are experiencing a shortage of supply?

The range of padlocks, bicycle locks and combination locks create a lovely pattern, encouraging a further layer of paint, graffiti and other artistic additions. Clearly some lovers come prepared with carefully engraved locks with strong colours to stand out from the crowd – or you could perhaps design a specific banner – like the fake paris street signs with lovers names inscribed. But of course you could always buy a lock if you need to…

When I lived in Paris in the late 1990s I remember the Pont des Artes as a public space for meeting up, having a picnic or just getting together. On a cold winter day in November it was full of tourists making photos against the walls of locks, attaching locks or making selfies of their locks before attaching them – somewhere – on the bridge.



I first came across lovelocks on a bridge in a small italian town, Cannobio on Lago Maggiore. Over a year later I found the Pont des Artes in Paris covered in a multi-cultural spread of padlocks offering public declarations of undying love. Always known as a meeting place for lovers it was something new to see a tapestry of locks spread across the wire barrier.

I’m told the tradition of inscribing names on a lock, attaching it to a bridge and throwing away the key to announce enduring love has a long history. It seems strange though to place so much faith in the common padlock to protect us from the vagaries of time and change that will always transform love.

Since my visit to the Pont des artes on a cold November day in 2011 the padlocks have multiplied has have the views of public authorities trying to find a way to manage the proliferation of lovelocks on their bridges.. The message on the green bin bag on the pont des artes suggests both vigilance and cleanliness…

Les murs de Paris encore

A recent trip to Paris in November 2011 encouraged me to re-trace some of the steps I had taken when I first created the series, ‘Les Murs de Paris’. I wanted to see what had changed and what had remained the same over the five years that had passed from my initial walks around the city.

Much of my focus during this trip was to explore the area where I had lived in Paris during the late 1990s – the 20ème, and more specially the area around Belleville. The streets around my old Paris home have seen a great deal of change. While I lived in the city an area of low rise around rue de L’Ermitage had been endangered by re-development – but a campaign led by leading artists put a halt to this. But as I walked around in November 2011 I could see that development was slowly encroaching on this low rise hold out among the tower blocks of this north eastern Paris district.

One of the streets I had walked down in early 2006, rue Denoyez is now covered in graffiti as the developers move in and réaménagement takes hold. Walking up to Parc Belleville from rue Denoyez, a recent plaque marks the site of the last battles of the Paris Commune that occurred on 28 May 1871. The plaque is a tribute to those who fought for freedom and justice to which someone has added ‘social justice’. Longer standing memorials mark the deaths of resistance fighters, and on many school buildings the deportation of Jewish children during the 1940s. Walking down rue de Rosiers in the 4ème a newer memorial at number 16 marks the home of several jewish residents who were deported – a reflection perhaps on Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine Project?

Many of the things I photographed in 2006 have long since gone; the wall murals at Abbesses metro station (all nice and white now), the prowling tigers at Ville de L’Ermitage and the cat at rue de cascades – replaced by sperm. But it was nice to see that the tigers in rue des rosiers are still there – though someone has added ‘nature strikes back’ over the original mural.

Les Murs de Paris

Walking through Paris from the fashionable 8ème to the rapidly gentrifying old working class districts to the North & North East brings you across a variety of signs and street art on the walls – official & unofficial. This journey takes in the work of contemporary urban artists, Mosko et Associés, monuments and memorials to the city’s history, and the work of architects, builders and artisans who have left their stamp on the fabric of Paris.

This series, collected over several years, also reflects the impermanence of the urban space – murals can be repainted, buildings torn down, districts regenerated and urban improvements created.

One example is the ongoing renovation of Paris’ metro stations, where the plastic cladding walls from the 1970s are being stripped away – to reveal the original tiles and advertising hoarding from the beginning of the 20th century. These ‘improvements’ however can also eradicate more recent history – such as the murals at Abbesses metro now painted over in featureless white, returning the station to its ‘original’ condition. On a recent trip to Paris I also discovered that the prowling tigers in the Villa de L’Ermitage had disappeared – replaced by a uniform covering of gray paint.