Street art often has the ability to transform everyday objects from the mundane into something extraordinary and humorous. The French street artist Le CyKlop – whose name refers to the Greek mythological creature, Cyclops – has been transforming parking posts/bollards along the streets of Paris into colourful and playful one-eyed characters.
The posts photographed above are located in the Bastille district of Paris and have been painted with a distinct animal theme – zebra, leopard patterns etc. On LeCyKlop’s Twitter page it states ‘The Cyklop invade the city and watch people in their big single eyes…’ and their dotted presence across the city could perhaps be interpreted as a reverse ‘big brother’ spying back on the spies. Interestingly and like many other street artists, Le CyKlop started his work without permission but public support was so strong in the city the government allowed some of his imaginative creations to stay.
His official website lecyklop.com (in French) includes a map with the locations of the made over posts across the French capital as well as an online shop with monster inspired products. Follow him on Twitter @LeCyKlop to keep up to date on his latest work.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France
Considered the world’s oldest pet cemetery, Le Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques (Cemetary of Dogs & Other Domestic Animals), is a must for all pet lovers and those seeking something off the tourist path while visiting Paris.
Located just outside of the city in the suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine and a 15 minute walk from the metro station Gabriel Péri, the cemetery dates back to 1899 and is home to more than 40,000 animals. Although originally intended for our four legged canine friends, in later years other domestic animals such as cats and hamsters were also welcomed. Rather exotically, there is a monkey and a lion remembered here as well!
The cemetery was created following a law passed by the French government in 1898 declaring that dead pets had to be buried in hygienic graves (rather than thrown into the Seine) at least 100 metres from the nearest human dwelling.
Many of the graves are elaborate shrines to beloved pets decorated with colourful tinsel, flowers and jewelry beads. Stone statues, photographs and personal belongings such as well chewed toys and tennis balls celebrate the pets and their joyful lives. Touching and heartfelt inscriptions reflect the close bond and lasting love one has with an animal companion.
More information about the cemetery including directions and opening times can be found here.
A recent article published by Bloomberg discusses how Paris has become the centre of street art and on a recent weekend trip to the ‘City of Lights‘ this accolade certainly proved true. Despite the 37c heat I sought out my favourite street art find from last year’s 3 hour street art tour organized by Underground Paris.
Rue Dénoyez, located in the district of Belleville, is a legal graffiti wall covered from top to bottom with colourful paste ups, 3d art and objects such as mosaics, jewelry, coins and my favourite childhood board-game Rummicub. There are also several galleries where you can purchase recent art work.
For the third consecutive year I visited the world-famous gardens of Keukenhof. Located in the Dutch city of Lisse, Keukenhof is home to more than 7 million flowers spread over an impressive 70 acres. Open only for six weeks every year, the gardens are a visual feast of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and bluebells of all imaginable colours and varieties.
Each year a theme is selected and 2014 was none other than Holland with the previous two years having been the United Kingdom and Poland. The highlight of the Dutch theme, apart from millions of tulips, was a flower bulb mosaic depicting an Amsterdam canal scene with more than 60,000 tulips! Above is a selection of my favourite flowers from the day.
More information about Keukenhof can be found on the official website here. The gardens will be open next year from 20 March to 17 May 2015. The theme for 2015 is the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh coinciding with the 125th anniversary since his death.
In addition to visiting Keukenhof, going on a cycle tour through the surrounding bulb-growing fields, provides one of the best ways to experience and photograph Holland’s most iconic flowers. Our cycling adventure presented two challenges 1) cycling as a non-native Dutch person and wondering if everyone else was overtaking me with an electric bike 2) trying to balance my camera/multiple lenses without smashing them into smithereens against the handle bars.
During many requested photo stops we were able to walk up close to the fields and capture the colourful stripes of tulips that cover the land like a rainbow coloured blanket. Of course the best way to capture the beauty and geometric perfection of the fields is from above. Italian photographer Simone Sbaraglia, was lucky enough to take hundreds of images of the fields earlier this year saying that ‘the colourful lines create a sense of simplicity, beauty and harmony in the images’ and noting their resemblance to the abstract paintings of American artists Barnett Newman and Gene Davis. Simone’s photographs can be viewed on his Facebook page here.
Unlike Keukenhof, one advantage of cycling through the fields is the lack of tourists in the horizon or your photographs. The best time for cycling through the tulip fields is from the end of March to early May (weather dependent). If you are interested in cycling through the fields, you can rent a bike at Keukenhof for only 10 euros a day.