Top Ten Places to Watch Street Artists in Paris
Art is as common in Paris as snow is to Greenland; its everywhere, and its hard to miss unless you really, really don’t know where to look.
Many people enjoy the curated collections of art featured at various venues around the city. You may find solace at places like the Louvre or Cluny museums, where the exhibits boast some of the greatest pieces of all time.
In it’s other forms, art is also found within the many Paris concert halls and theatre venues. The Paris Opera is a tourist favorite and brings in millions of visitors per year. Other venues, such as Olympia Hall over in the 9th arrondissement, showcase musical artists from around the world for Parisians to enjoy.
Art in Paris doesn’t always require an elaborate venue or exclusive ticket — the streets of Paris are another worthwhile location when it comes to finding and watching art around the city. The best part: its free!
Come and enjoy the array of buskers, painters, graffiti artists, dancers and art makers that this city has to offer, by simply taking a stroll down the road. Any quality free guided walking tour will know the hot spots for street artists around Paris.
Here are (in my opinion) the top ten places to watch street artists do their thing!
1. Le Marais in Paris
A district with no shortage of art, both indoors and outdoors, would be that of Le Marais in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.
This little neighborhood on the Right Bank of the Seine is an artists paradise, and has been for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Off the streets, you’ll find museums such as the one dedicated solely to Picasso — as well as institutions displaying alternative art forms; like the museum dedicated solely to magic on Rue Saint-Paul.
As much as there is to do in Le Marais in terms of indoor entertainment, there is equally as much going on in the streets — particularly when the weather is good.
Busking is a big part of Parisian street culture. Le Marais is a district that embraces this side of French creativity and encourages artists to take to the cobblestone streets and share their work publicly.
In and around the plazas is where you’ll find much of the action, with solo artists and bands setting up their individual slices of the streets from which to make music. You’ll probably be able to spot them from the crowds gathered around first — if they’re any good.
The Fête de la Musique day in Paris takes place annually on June 21st. This is also known as Music Day and the city of Paris takes it very serious. There are many concerts and events happening around town for you to enjoy.
Le Marais during this time is absolutely buzzing with street artists and performances! Definitely where you want to be strolling through come June 21st, trust me.
2. Le Nemours in Paris
Right in the heart of Paris, in the 1st arrondissement, Le Nemours cafe opens its doors onto the street of Place Colette.
After a long day at one of the many attractions in this neighborhood this is the perfect place to stop for a glass of wine and a bite to eat — and to watch some street artists go by.
On days of good weather, a seat at one of the street side tables at Le Nemours is like a front row ticket to hours of busking performances. On weekends in particular, many musicians line this street having just performed up in the plaza for spare change.
Much of the street art around Paris typically requires you to be on your feet in order to enjoy it; it’s nice to find cafes like this that put you in the heart of the performances while you sit back and enjoy them.
The baguette sandwiches at le Nemours are delicious! As are all of their desserts.
Being one of the better known cafe’s on the Right Bank, Le Nemours can fill up quickly so don’t linger too long before getting a table.
Average Cost: Under €25
3. Vitry-Sur-Seine in Paris
This little town prides itself on being supportive and encouraging of street art in all of its forms. Graffiti art, however, reigns supreme.
There is little infrastructure around Vitry-Sur-Seine that remains untouched by this form of art. Lamp posts, pillars, bridges, walls, electricity boxes; all wall to wall covered in graffiti art works.
Enjoy walking through this town and spotting the artists in action; all eager to out-create the next guy. Sometimes painters get involved too, creating elaborate works on the sides of buildings that are the perfect juxtaposition next to the graffiti that surrounds.
4. The Metro in Paris
If theres one place in Paris you can count on for perpetual entertainment, its the metro!
Down underground where the stations meet the tracks, there is endless opportunity for artists and civilians to gather in the name of art.
Over the course of 16 lines there are 300 metro stations that cover all of the arrondissements. While waiting for your train, it will not be uncommon to encounter a busker who has set up shop and cranking out classics for anyone who will listen.
The metro stops in Paris are simple enough to find. While walking the streets of a single district you’re bound to pass at least three (Read more about Discover walking tours).
On occasion, if you’re really lucky, you might even encounter an actual Parisian mime; performing his or her art in the metro’s underground. Lucky you!
5. Place du Tertre in Paris
For our next encounter with some authentic Parisian street artists we head over to the beautiful neighborhood of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement.
While you’d usually come to this part of town to bask in the wonder that is the Sacré Cœur church on the top of the hill, today we’re coming for the artists at Place du Tertre.
Place du Tertre is a small plaza in the middle of the Montmartre neighborhood where 140 spaces are offered up to artists willing to spend the day creating works right there on the street.
Many of these artists have ready made works up for sale that you can browse through. Others will create while you wait. Here you’ll find many tourists eagerly waiting to have their portraits commissioned — a truly unique souvenir to take home from a trip to the city of lights.
Place du Tertre exists in close proximity to a variety of restaurants in the Montmartre districts. This is one of the most whimsical parts of Parisian town, take your time here!
6. Place des Vosges in Paris
Another plaza worthy of a street artists mention is this gem that sits in the centre of the Marais district between the great mansions of the 17th and 18th century.
The Place des Vosges is one of the oldest plazas in all of Paris, and is constantly under debate as to whether or not it is the most beautiful.
It’s not uncommon for the Place des Vosges to feature live opera singers that gather beneath the trees in unified celebration of their craft. The experience of the performers while surrounded by old ornate buildings and the Parisian sky is quite something.
Unfortunately, sighting of these street artists is entirely down to luck as there is no telling of which days they will do their rounds. Nevertheless, spending some time on the grass of the Place des Vosges is a worthwhile excursion with or without the operatic backing track.
7. The Latin Quarter in Paris
Also known as the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the Latin Quarter is a lively student town that is known for its abundance of street artists.
That is, however, not all this area is abundant for. From bookshops to cafes, museums to botanical gardens, the Latin Quarter has got it all. The neighborhood coined its name back in the day when Latin was the most widely spoken language in all universities.
Being a university town, the Latin Quarter is effortlessly exciting and full of things to do and see. This is where you’ll come to find all of the variants of street artists in one place.
Have your portrait drawn on one street corner and enjoy a cover band on the very next. The Place Saint Michael is almost guaranteed to have a live performance occurring at all times throughout the day.
Whether jazz, classical, rock and even original French genre tunes are your thing you’ll find it here.
Contribute to keeping this art alive and be sure to carry a few euros in change to pass out to the artists!
8. The Bridges in Paris
Something that seems to be a trend not only in Paris but across Europe is street artists hovering around bridges in city centers.
Thanks to the gorgeous Seine River that cuts through the city, Paris has a plethora of bridges that connect the left and right banks between one another.
Your best way to experience street artists in this regard, is to walk.
The Pont des Arts is one of the better known bridges in Paris (remember the love lock debacle?). It is where you’d access the 6th arrondissement if you were to leave the Louvre Museum.
It is also such a treat to walk at night while the sounds of a jazz artist nearby fills the air.
If you really wanted to get the full experience, you could start on this bridge and zig zag your way between the rest; hopping from left to right and then right to left in search of all the street talent that the bridges hold!
9. Le Manoir in Paris
Technically the Manoir is a show that takes place solely indoors. It is Paris’ own haunted mansion theatre and, although spooky as hell, is tons of fun.
You’ll find the Manoir over in the 10th arrondissement in an old ceramic workshop of Choisy-le-Roi.
While the shows take place at night, during the day locals and tourists in this area sometimes enjoy staged sightings of the horror performers on the adjacent streets to the theatre.
Actors, totally in character, take to the streets to promote the show and create a buzz about what’s to come. An unusual form of street art but an art nonetheless!
Click here if you’re interested in knowing more about le Manoir and what it has to offer!
10. Rue Oberkampf in Paris
This road in the 11th arrondissement is the new “place to be” when it comes to the Parisian graffiti street art community. Buildings, furniture, shutters and doors boast ever-changing works by those invested in the craft.
What you really need to see, however, is Le Mur; a sectioned off piece of wall owned by an association who curates the works that it displays.
Every two weeks or so a new artist is invited to transform the wall however he or she may so desire. The event’s tend to draw quite a crowd and it really is fun to watch. Head over to their website to see when and who will be next on the panel.
To date, Le Mur has featured over 200 different works from street artists around Paris. It is a great initiative that keeps the essence of this kind of street art alive and contained all at once.
If you’re like me and you tend to celebrate art in any and all of its forms, then the Parisian streets are like a gold mine.
While tracking down street artists can be an uncertain activity left mostly to luck — it is always worth the try! Happy hunting!