Paris is the perfect place for urban sketching. Often admired as one of Europe’s most beautiful and romantic cities, or argued as an overrated and overcrowded urban jungle, there’s no denying that the streets of Paris make for compelling artistic subject matter.
The cobblestone alleys, street lamps, quays, Haussmannian buildings, and grand monuments make for perfect subject matter for an artist walking the streets. Meanwhile, modern designs, street art and even underground locales leave plenty more to be discovered for an urban sketcher.
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Some of Paris’ most charming sights are shop fronts, banners and signs, and windows of French businesses.
Shakespeare and Company is one of Paris’ most iconic English-language bookshops, not far from Notre Dame.
Famed for its inclusion in Pixar’s iconic film Ratatouille, Julien Aurouze and Co Pest Control is a real pest control shop, with real rats which have been on display for decades.
Some simple street art in Paris is more than meets the eye. In this work, we see an original piece by Salvador Dali, a small sundial.
La Maison du Miel is a shop that sells honey, much of it collected from beehives located on rooftops around Paris.
The quintessential Parisian store front might be the humble boulangerie, serving baguettes, croissants and cakes.
There are plenty more opportunities to capture the energy of Paris beneath the streets. Far from being just a sprawling transport system, the Paris Metro has some beautifully designed metro stations to marvel at.
Liege metro station is decorated with murals that celebrate the Belgian city of the same name.
Cadet metro station has a huge American flag imprinted into the walls with colourful tiles.
Arts et Metiers has a wonderful steampunk look, with bronze walls and fittings.
Of course, Paris is famed for its elegant and monumental landmarks, which represent important points in the city’s history, cultural touchstones, and architectural masterpieces.
Le Palais Garnier is the number one place to attend an Opera in Paris.
The Hotel de Sens has a curious item up high, a cannonball lodged in the facade.
Drawing the Eiffel Tower at night produces some wonderful colours.
Paris is full of unusual sights too, many of which can be discovered just by walking around the streets.
A passageway passing straight through a building, cut in half.
This red statue decorated the garden of the Porte Dorée aquarium.
A closer look shows this carousel depicting extinct and endangered animals.
Archways like this show some of the street level beauty of Paris.
Paris is a never-ending source of inspiration for urban sketchers, aiming to capture the spirit of this great city on paper. While my sketches just scratch the surface of some of my favourite locations, I will continue to visit Paris to be inspired for many years to come.