A walk from the Tuileries Gardens (Louvre art gallery end) to the Pont Neuf, along the Seine, and back through the Tuileries Tunnel with art works. I aimed to walk through the tunnel in the other (west-east) direction, but couldn’t find the entrance. Google maps to the rescue! Note that it says ‘Closed’ though at the time of writing that means only to cars and lorries etc.
Walk along the Seine
Look to your left for make-shift homes and art work. Signs indicating historical sites of interest and local history are on the walls too, including the story of the Washerwomen. During the18th century, more than 80 boats would have been moored along the banks of the Seine, each carrying 24 washerwomen (‘a gigantic laundry’). Others built a jetty, illegally, and stationed themselves there to hang out the washing to dry. Eventually the boats were condemned as a hindrance to river traffic, and ‘the smalls’ unseemly to be seen from the Louvre and the Tuileries Palace.
- From the Tuileries Gardens (close to the Louvre art gallery) to half way between the Pont des Arts and the Pont Neuf on the north/right bank
- 800m long – once you’re in, there’s no escape
- 10 European street artists
- Parallel to the Seine River
- Open only to walkers and cyclists
- Including Andrea Ravo Mattoni, Hydrane, Lek & Sowat, Bault, Ërell, Madame, Romain Froquet
- Artistic direction: Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, with the support of the City of Paris
Text from the @m_a_d_a_m_e (below) ‘De l’obscur au clair ce n’est pas l’œil oui change mais la façon dont on Louvre’ meaning, approximately, ‘from dark to light, it’s not the eye that changes but the way we Louvre.’
The Tuileries Tunnel is a cross between a cold contemporary art gallery and a graffitied tunnel. With all the ambience of the Channel one (linking Dover and Calais), once you are in it you are only reminded of its Parisian location by occasional French texts. Overlaid now with random graffiti, it’s hard to distinguish between the original and later-added work.
Lighting changes colour like switching traffic beacons and affects the frescoes. Beam-me-up blue ones invite you to stand underneath, back to the sides – part interrogatory, part revelatory. Some works stretch along the walls, like the dancing figures or running wild animals, moving and flowing; others decorate with familiar blocks of primary coloured letters or the image of Frida Kahlo. All are constantly interacting with their audience, some concentrating only on running and others defacing them.
There isn’t one theme, though the fight for life and peace features strongly. The art works do not, collectively, tell a story, nor do they offer a message (unlike the Colinton Tunnel or No Birds Land in Edinburgh), though there is immense subtlety in some of them despite the conditions of the walls and the external temperature.
Half way through, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay, but I had to either go back or on. There is a rawness in the air, a sense of disquiet, with none of the cosyness of a National Gallery or safety of a contemporary white box. Certainly there is impermanence – there are no guarantees that what you are witnessing will be there tomorrow.
Link to tourist website page about the Tuileries Tunnel
Nearest public toilets: Tuileries Gardens, Rue de Rivoli / Place des Pyramides entrance.
For a good takeaway try Aki Boulangerie, 16 Rue de Sainte-Anne, 75001 Paris (Japanese take-away meals: those works-of-art-cum-French-pâtisserie (cakes is too pedestrian a description), real delicacies. I had a briquette (I think it was called) sort of deep fried breadcrumbs outside with curried veg inside – delicious).
For the best, simple green tea served in the tiddliest teapot (there’s plenty – quality not quantity) in Paris (so far) try Atelier WM – 45 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France
Have you been to the tunnel? What did you think? Please do leave a comment below.