Everyone that visits Paris is familiar with the hustle and bustle in front of the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre. A few steps away on Place Colette, you’ll find yourself a world away from selfie sticks and madness. Did you realize you’re actually on the set of a film? Yes, look there, recognize that café? What world famous actress sat there in the opening scene of the 2010 remake of “The Tourist”? If you guessed Angelina Jolie, you are correct.
Our Art Walk Tour begins here in the heart of Paris. While others wait in an endless queue at the Louvre ready to be shuffled from room to room, we’ve already jumped right into a living, breathing ever-changing museum: squares, parks, streets and sidewalks filled with art and history all ready to be explored. Oh, and let me introduce myself, my name is James Pouliot and I’m an American artist living and working in Paris for the past eight years.
For the last five years, I’ve been a professional fashion and portrait photographer. During this time, I’ve worked with CEO’s, royalty, celebrities, and models. My work has introduced me to people from all walks of life and has landed in the pages of Vogue, L’Officiel, Grazia and The Times to name a few.
Art has been my doorway to the wider world, building bridges and creating a connection that has deepened my experiences here in Paris.
The bonds we share through art deepen our level of humanity. Art Walk Tours is another way in which I connect with people and share a mutual wonder for the human experience expressed through art. Just the other day, I started a conversation with an opera singer that had finished singing an aria in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Turns out, she’s also from my home state, Michigan! Art knows no boundaries. A point that President Mitterrand understood very well when he made the controversial decision to have a Chinese-American architect (gasp!) reinvent the face of the Louvre.
Paris like you’ve never seen it before
So, let’s turn right through this passageway to the Palais Royal. No, really, trust me it’s open to the public and although you may have overlooked this small entrance, it’s filled with treasures inside. Art that you can walk through, sit on, take pictures with, gaze at and even listen to. Yes, listen too! On an Art Walk Tour, you don’t have to stand there scratching your chin, you can actually interact and participate in art. Art is more than just placing a piece of work on a wall and attaching a date and name to it. Here in Paris, the locals know how to interact with art.
Hey, don’t walk so fast! See these chairs here? Yes, they may look like the standard green chairs of the many Parisian gardens you’ve seen before, but look closer. They’re actually called “Les Confidents” and it’s more than a set of chairs, it’s a sculpture that you can sit in and listen to!
What kind of art do you see wandering through Paris? Of course, you have sculpture, but also murals, music, film, literature, and architecture that sways more to art than function. Not to mention the countless locations that have been made famous by world-renowned artists like Miro, Picasso, and Hemingway to name a few. Many of the pieces that we encounter on an Art Walk Tour have created a public uproar. That’s the amazing thing about art – everyone has an opinion. In fact, my favorite piece on the tour, called the Colonnes de Buren, was actually ordered to be destroyed by Jaques Chirac when he served as mayor of Paris.
A walking tour of Paris is not intended to be a couple of hours filled with facts, figures, dates, and references crammed into your head that you’re going to walk away from and forget several minutes later. It’s designed to provoke emotion and feeling, to help you develop your own opinions about the art pieces you view and to share them in an enthusiastic group (or private) setting.
Oh wow, look at that, the time has flown by. We’ve just finished exploring Paris’ famed Saint-Germain-des-Près neighborhood. We’ve gazed into a glittering gallery window. We’ve wandered past cafes debating over art just like Fitzgerald, Dali, and Dégas. Although we may not agree on everything we see, one thing is certain: you will never walk through Paris the same way again.