Rue Cavallotti: Industrial meets Artistic in Paris’ Smallest open-air Art Museum

(All images by Natasha Newton, website: natasha-newton.co.uk, reproduced with permission)

With a width of 120m and a total length of 12m, Rue Cavallotti officially measures as the smallest open-air art museum in Paris.

A working street during the day, it begins its second life after twilight. It’s when the shops roll down their heavy iron shutters, that this narrow street really comes alive! Revamped by vivid paintings of old-time commercials, the images on the stores’ shutters act together to constitute a walk through Parisian history and the city’s famous landmarks – Moulin Rouge, the public baths, the famous theatre Cigale and more.

For years, the merchants on Rue Cavallotti saw nothing beyond their grim grey shutters. Until one day, two young artists actually did – inspiring, permanent canvasses. Despite being grabbed by the idea, none of the merchants could afford the street’s complete makeover, so the artists petitioned the city of Paris and were awarded most of the financing. Then a paint company donated the materials – et voilà! – the drab old Rue Cavallotti became the “Gallery of Art of the Open Sky”.

Today each painting matches the unique personality of the store behind. Those “hand-drawn business cards” invite you to drop by and celebrate life at the florist’s, the pharmacist’s, the fruit vendor’s, the baker’s, the restaurateur’s…

If you want to pay a visit to this unusual open-air museum, however, it’s no use coming during the day. Because, as a general rule of thumb, if the shops are open, “the museum” is closed!

Keep reading – check out more quirky places in Paris on Untapped Cities, and don’t miss the Street of the Fishing Cat or the Paris Metro’s Eerie “Ghost Stations”.

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