Before visiting Paris in September this year, I asked a fellow blogger where the best street art can be found. Without hesitation, the answer was Rue Dénoyez. This one-car-wide lane is lined with abandoned stores with grilled and shuttered windows, with brick sidewalks indistinguishable from the street except for the shallow gutters and the stanchions that establish the pedestrian right-of-way on both sides. A long stretch of sidewalk on one side is inexplicable blocked, tucked behind a temporary (?) metal panel and wire barrier, but the original wall behind is still visible. At least half of the length of this two-block street is covered in colorful street art – every wall, window, trash can, flower pot, and even some of the stanchions.
At the entrance to the street from the Rue Ramponeau end, at 3 rue Dénoyez, is the trendy restaurant le Desnoyez.
While some of the foot traffic on Rue Dénoyez is clearly local citizenry taking a shortcut to somewhere else (this street is extremely convenient to the Paris Métro), there are usually a few tourists wandering slowly down the street and back, studying each image, trying to understand what it means to the person who created it. Is it a political statement or just humor? Who is the boy pictured lower right below? His eyes suggest a sad story.
We zigzagged slowly down the street, taking pictures of whatever caught our eye. There were only a few other persons on the street also interested in the art. It occurred to me that I might not want to be on this street after dark, but I felt safe enough in the bright sunlight. (Rue Dénoyez is located at the edge of the 20th arrondissement of Paris and is very near the locations of the terrorist attacks of November, 2015.)
Reaching the unofficial end of the display, I decided to take more pictures of art I had skipped on the first pass. I turned and worked my way back up the street, totally engrossed in capturing the extraordinary images. About halfway back, I became aware that we were the only two people on the street – except for four tall uniformed policemen carrying long automatic weapons and staring at us. They had appeared from nowhere! I “calmly” took one last photograph, and as we walked past them, I said “Bonjour” to one of them. We “calmly” walked back to the entrance of the street and turned to see the street empty behind us. They had vanished again.
If you are ever in Paris and would like to see the current version of this frequently-changing street art, then ride the Paris Métro to the Belleville station on Line 2 and Line 11. Exiting the Métro station, walk east one short block on Rue de Belleville, and then turn right (south) onto Rue Dénoyez.
You could combine a visit to Rue Dénoyez with a visit to Père Lachaise Cemetery, also a great photography destination. The cemetery is also on Paris Métro Line 2, only four stops away at the Philippe Auguste station, which exits at the main entrance to the cemetery. (The Père Lachaise station, while only three stops away on Line 2, exits near a side entrance that is closed to the public.)