With King of the Mountains off on a football jolly in Stockholm, I needed something to keep the kids entertained on a Sunday afternoon. In stepped Paris Polaroid Tours with the offer to take us on a Paris walking tour to see the street art in Belleville, north east Paris (straddling the 19th and 20th arrondissements).
Paris has amazing art galleries, Lourve, Musee D’Orsay, Musee Rodin, but Paris also has a thriving, edgy urban street art scene, waiting to be discovered which you can do with Paris Polaroid Tours.
Paris Polaroid Tours and the Polaroid Cameras
Steph, Paris Polaroid Tours’ operations and marketing director met us outside Café La Place Verte. And right there was our first street art exhibit, a Japanese inspired work of art.
Steph issued us with our Fuji Instax Wide Polaroid cameras and a polaroid film packet that contained ten shots. She gave us a quick tutorial on how use the camera (point and shoot) how to load the film, how to take long distance and close up pictures and how to hold the camera to get the best shot.
The cameras are really easy to use. But it’s not digital so you have to think carefully about what you want to capture before you point, shoot and click. With ten shots each, we had to use our film wisely. But this did mean we took in our surroundings and only took pictures of what we really loved.
The kids got excited about having their own cameras, it meant they could decide what they could take pictures of, be real photographers for the afternoon. And even better they got their prints there and then.
A Belleville Rendez Vous
Paris is home to a vibrant, underground, street art movement.
Urban art adorns walls, shop fronts, street signs and even bollards are are turned into works of art. Paris Polaroid Tours introduced us to a different side of Paris, one I many never have ventured into with my kids. I loved it and they loved it.
Belleville is a diverse neighbourhood, home to one of Paris’ two Chinatowns (the other is in the 13th arrondissement). Belleville was traditionally a working class area, in the 1980s artists and musicians, attracted by the cheaper rents and the old style buildings, moved in. This is what gives Belleville its unique charm. But the area is changing as gentrification creeps in.
The legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf grew up in Belleville, and you can even stop off and have a glass of wine in the bar, Aux Folies where she used to perform. The bar is on the corner of one of Belleville most famous street for street art, rue Denoyez.
Paris Polaroid Tours introduced us to some big names in street art:
You might not know the name, but you will know Shepard Fairey’s most famous and now iconic pieces of art, the portrait of Barack Obama, the Hope poster. This has image has made him world famous. His art combines graffiti, pop art, business art, and Marxist theory. His work has been seen in galleries around the world and even museums. But you can see him right here in Paris.
We actually first met Mr BMX in Montpellier, we just didn’t know it. Mr BMX recovers, saws, welds and repaints old BMX bikes before fixing then to the wall. He does this during the day, trying not to get caught.
Retro is a new street artist, his art only started appearing in Paris this year. It was pretty cool to see this new artist work here in Paris. Retropolis was Wonder Boy’s favourite piece of art.
Clet Abraham one of France’s most famous street artists or street sign hacker. His style adds a little humour to the every day and mundane. His hacked street signs can be found all over Europe. Now we can’t stop looking at street signs to see if we can spot a Clet Abraham hack.
Seth Globepainter (Julien Malland)
Street artist, Julien ‘Seth Globepainter‘ Malland has a dreamy cosmic style. We met Seth’s artwork at the end of the tour at Parc de Belleville. The park was built in 1881 and covers a part of Belleville hill. It offers one of the best views of Paris. When you climb to the top, Seth’s works are spread across the building at the top of the hill. He is famous for creating art that features children, and his works are bursting with colour.
Was the tour child friendly?
- Absolutely, Steph took great pains to talk to the children and really engage them with the art, and the kids loved the art, and the camera. They weren’t bored at all
- The tour takes around two hours, but we walked at a slow pace, taking in our surroundings. The kids weren’t tired out at all. And even better that we ended our tour in the beautiful parc de Belleville
- The kids loved the cameras, it made them feel like real photographers, they could choose what pictures they could take, and they started to stage manage their own photo shoots!
- Yup Paris Polaroid Tours is totally kid friendly, but your children should be able to walk for about two hours at an easy pace
- Tours lasts approximately two hours
- Wear comfortable shoes, and waterproofs if it’s wet
- All tour guides speak English to a high level as well as Spanish and French
- All tour guides are passionate photographers, and can provide photography tips, and give assistance for you to get the best shot
- The tour includes the use of the Polaroid camera and a film packet with 10 shots, additional film packs can be bought
- As well as the street art tour, you can tour the 13th district famous for its murals, or the classic sights of Paris, there are two further tours in development: Monmatre, and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery (that’s where Jim Morrison from the Doors is buried, and Oscar Wilde)
- Tours cab be booked through the Paris Polaroid Tours website
- Tours start at 45 euros per adult, children (under 12, 30 euros) including the camera and the first pack of film
About Paris Polaroid Tours
- Contact Paris Polaroid Tours
*I was not financially compensated for this post. We received a tour for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.