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Paris inspires the urge to be artsy even in those who have even the smallest modicum of creativity. How can it not, with the ornate, grandiose architecture of every monument rising against the horizon; the spirit of artistic giants like Renoir, Van Gogh, and Degas occupying the narrow, winding streets of Montmartre; original works of local artists in the Place de Tertre; the numerous museums filled with the work of masters, porteurs of French fashion fiercely walking down the Champs Elysées; and postcards of finely drawn Parisian cityscape hanging on every souvenir stand?
For art lovers, a visit to Montmartre is a must. Just a stroll around le Place de Tertre whets the artistic appetite by the sight of rows and rows of original art. Visitors can take a piece of Montmartre with them by buying a tableau, with the price ranging from 100 to 150 euros (the sight of which satiated my artistic/poor-college-student appetite). While the romantic idea of starving artists living by their creativity lives on, something tells me that the stubborn wandering artists searching for the unassuming tourist are working on a full stomach.
The wealth of art galleries is a testament of Paris’s status as an artistic city. The Rue Mazarin, in particular, houses many galleries belonging to temporary French artists as well as old print shops. Down the Quai Voltaire and Quai Anatole France, local artists line their works against the Seine with little paintings starting at 15 euros, cleverly choosing a location across from visitors exiting the Musée d’Orsay. You’ll find even more original works of unframed acrylic paintings on canvas as you make your way along the Seine towards Notre Dame. Realism, although prevalent, is not the only style artists prefer, however. You can buy pieces in which the Eiffel Tower seeming leans a bit to the right, the roads are dotted with red speckles, and the foreground shows quirky cartoon-like figures.
I love art, and I love soaking in the inspiration for art that blows with the Parisian wind, but I also freely admit that as a poor college student, I have limited means to take home art forms of Paris. As one of those with a small modicum of artistic sensibility, I decided to create my own art, taking note of those in the Musée d’Orsay who sit and try to reproduce Degas’ masterful strokes on their own notepads.
Because art supply stores may be difficult to find, here I list some good art supplies stores for those who want to try a hand at art for the first time in the lovely city:
15 bis, boulevard Saint-Denis, VI ème (10h – 19h Mon – Sat)
Place and Quai Saint Michel (9h30 – 19h30 Mon – Sat)
Métro: St Michel
The yellow sign with the smiling head is hard to miss when you leave the St Michel metro. The papeterie is in the basement of Gibert Jeune, and there is a large section of pens, pencils, paper, and sketchbooks.
3 quai Voltaire, VII ème (open every day except Sunday and Monday morning from 10h to 12h45, and 14h to 18h30)
Métro: Palais Royal, Rue du Bac, Saint Germain
Tél : (33) 01 42 60 72 15
A famous artists’ store on the Left Bank. First opened in 1887, Magasin Sennelier also carries years of history, bringing it a charm as unique as its products.
Major Club (BDFB)
24, rue Etienne Marcel, IIème
Metro: Etienne Marcel
Tél: (33) 01 40 41 00 01
This store has a good selection of notebooks, pens, paints, and art supplies. Its location on the rue Etienne Marcel makes it convenient for the avid shopper.
120, rue Damrémont (9h30 – 19h Mon – Sat), XVIII ème
Tel: (33) 01 42 58 93 40
Magasin Rougier & Plé
13-15, boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, III ème.
Du lundi au samedi : de 9H30 à 19H sans interruption
Tél: (33) 01 44 54 81 00