17 September 2012

XXL, the Paris report

The way I travel has changed, somehow. Shopping has entirely been replaced with taking pictures and doing research. My latest Paris trip was no exception, I checked out everything from street art to my current obsessions bike parking and garbage solutions. Stocking my archives with photographic evidence proving that we can do better in Copenhagen.

The bikes:
In Copenhagen there are only a very few and scattered areas in the residential neighborhoods designated for bike parking, we are forced to leave our bikes on the sidewalk, pressed up against the houses. In Paris they have made space for the bikes in the street. Offering sturdy centered railings that you can properly chain your bike to. A single car space holds about ten bikes. The needs of ten, outweighing the need of one, it makes sense. I'm still holding my breath for the city planners of Copenhagen to embrace that one.

Bike parking in Paris

Simple as that.

The trash:
Compared to Copenhagen, Paris is clean and littering is kept to a minimum. If people can't find a place to leave their trash, they will go to great lengths to avoid leaving it on the ground.



Elevated litter


Cup litter à la Paris

It is almost an art form.

And with the smoke-happy French, you would think there were cigarette butts everywhere, right? Not so. Every other house has the butt disposal mounted on the wall. They are all different, leading me to believe that every single house owner have taken responsibility in the matter. If you have an office, and send people outside to smoke, you offer them an ashtray. Which fits my theory that it is all about providing the option to do the right thing.

The street art:
On my first day I spotted these giant footprints. Leading all the way from the metro, down a narrow street and into the small art gallery Galerie Nivet-Carzon. Recently opened and currently showing street art. At first I was confused, inquiring if it was a "regular" or a street art gallery? The answer was both, of course. Now I feel embarrassed for even making the distinction, ugh.

Nemi and me

The group show starred names I was already familiar with, like Fred le Chevalier, Diamant and Nemi, and introduced me to Lor-K, who creates sculptures out of abandoned stuff she finds in the street. I would give anything to have come across one of her pieces live, but we have to make do with her own pictures:

(Ah, it always feels a little bit like cheating, taking a picture of someone else's picture...)

And since they all shared the small space, a micro contribution made total sense: tiny drawings by Michael Beerens, served with a magnifying glass.

Michael Beerens

Crazy. Good.

But Paris is one big street art gallery already. There is so much to see in every crack and corner, it is insane and ever changing. Somehow Nemo (and here is where it gets confusing: is Nemo and Nemi the same person?) have become synonymous with Paris to me. Everywhere you look, you find his trace.

Nemo bike

Nemo in Paris

As I was taking this picture, a man right behind me projectile vomited. It is all I can think of when I see this picture. Does it work the same for you now?

Nemo cats detail

Haha, sorry. Let me erase that with a nice cat detail.

Space Invader

Space Invader and GZUP.

Clet Abraham

And Clet Abraham, teaser of traffic signs.

Warrior and cat


Painted shutters. Can we please get at little wilderness in Copenhagen? Ready, steady, paint!



And an OAK1 girl, right next to the metro entrance, apparently inviting people to kill their cigarettes in her mouth. Street art finds yet another use. 

Le Cyklop

Le Cyklop bonanza. Caught in the rain, this was the best I could do, dammit. Imagine if you can, me hovering like the hunchback of Notre Dame, trying to cover my camera from the rain, without obstructing the view. In suede shoes. Yeah, it was not graceful. I'm sorry you had to see that, Paris.

Le Cyklop

(The end of the longest post ever, haha, I thought I owed you an extra large today.)


  1. Hey Sandra, I'm happy that your trip to Paris was a positive one :-) Actually can I differ on cigarette butts? I still think Paris is a giant ashtray, and it smells so badly. In some places, especially in front of bars, the ground is yellow with cigarettes butts, and I really don't like the people smoking in front of the school, holding their burning cigarette at the same level as children's heads. But for the rest, the bikes, the street art, the littering, AND the dogs excrements, Paris has improved so much over the past years... (as for vomiting and pissing in the streets, some education is still needed... ;-)

    1. Of course you can differ. You would have a heart attack if you saw the butt litter situation in Copenhagen, it is absolutely everywhere. At your doorstep, by your bike, in every ground shot on every picture I have taken, unless I kick it out of the way. Unbelievable. Compared to that, Paris is so well-behaved. But cigarettes close to the children's heads? UGH. Crazy.

      Now that you mention it, I didn't even notice the dog poop this time around. Even that has cleared up. I wonder if it is because the city does a better job of cleaning up after people, or if people have become better at cleaning up after themselves. The eternal question. :-)

      The projectile vomiting man was an alcoholic, I think, and I was on his turf, so I acted polite, got my shot and hurried me and my suede ballerinas out of there, haha.

  2. Funny, when I moved to CPH I thought the same: so cool street art, so cool bike culture, etc. But yeah, i guess Paris got better with bikes since "velib'" started. Street art was always there, but not always nice (lots of "let's trash someone's place/window/car/etc."). And the cigaret buts, and the litter... But in CPH, I sure miss trash bins in the streets. Almost none!
    Oh, and I'm pretty sure Nemi and Nemo are two different artists :-)

    1. We do have cool street art and a cool bike culture. It is unfair to compare Copenhagen to Paris, and I don't expect or want them to be the same, but it is okay to be inspired, and take note of what works. City planners from all over the world come to Copenhagen to learn about our ways, especially with bikes, but when it comes to bike parking we are way behind.

      And you are right: we don't have a lot of trashcans, and the ones we do have are more or less outdated. Beautiful, but insufficient. The city of Cph just raised the budget for picking up litter, it is crazy. People should be better at picking up after themselves, and the city should get better at providing them with the opportunity to do so.

      Ah, I love Copenhagen, you know that. So much.

      (And thank you for straightening out the Nemi/Nemo confusion, haha)

  3. So happy that you got to go to Paris- amazing finds! Love the cat details!
    May autumn be gentle with you :)

    1. It was the best! Every time I come home from a trip abroad, I see things so clearly. I get a ton of ideas. And then, two weeks in, they fade, haha. It helps to look at the pictures.

      Big hugs to you. :-)


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