Paris Face Cachée, radical leftwing tourism?

by Demian Smith on January 27, 2013

Paris Face Cachee - Clet Abraham - street art - Paris Underground

Paris Face Cachée is a 72 hour series of unique guided tours taking place next weekend, which is aimed to promote “interactive not contemplative tourism”, of the kind exposed in the bestselling book, Métronome, by Lorànt Deutsch.

There is a debate surrounding how Deutsch’s book attempts at rewriting the Paris narrative, which certain critics are calling “fabrications”. We wonder where the critics stand on Paris Face Cachée, with its selection of  ’experiences including the “prohibited, unpublished and unknown?

The Marie de Paris has said previously that it is aiming to rewrite the Paris narrative, we guess to try and move away from its tag of being a museum city, in the minds of Parisians only though, it appears. The entire event is being offered just in French, and, Paris as a museum city is surely a tag worth keeping in the minds of Americans, and every other nationality that pays homage each year, just for this reason.

The seed to Paris Face Cachée is in the Mairie de Paris’ 2001 proposal to support unusual and avant-garde events. “Being underground is knowing how to step aside”, is a line quoted on the Paris Face Cachée website (and translated via Google), which comes from Jean-François Bizot, a late leading figure of French counter-culture, and journalist and founder of the magazine, Actuel, and Radio Nova.

Bizot, switched from being an economic forecaster to journalism, working for French newspaper, L’Express, for three years to 1970, when he founded with some friends – Michel-Antoine Burnier, Patrick Rambaud, Bernard Kouchner and others – a leftist magazine, focused on the beatniks, freaks, punks, feminism, homosexuality, squatters, ecology, ultra-leftists, situationists, hackers, Kerouac, Karl Marx, and LSD.

Paris Face Cachee is championed by Paris’ Deputy Mayor of Paris, in charge of Tourism and New Media, and fittingly President of the Federation of Paris of the Radical Left, Jean-Bernard Bros. The event claims it will satisfy both the “nerd-hipster” and “grannies looking for a thrill”.

Examples of what to expect include entering a Masonic temple, spending the night in a major newspaper, and exploring a World War II bunker, to immersive experiences such as entering the village of Flateurville.

A joint collaboration between the Mairie de Paris (Paris Townhall) and A Suivre Productions, and with all venues and locations being kept secret from ticket holders until the last moment, activities also include those in Paris’ ‘less attractive’ neighbourhoods, such as, La Goutte d’Or (which claims the honour of being inner-Paris’  only Sensitive Urban Zone (ZUS)) or Belleville (lower down the scary scale, but still with its fair share of social issues, in addition to being Paris’ most artistically interesting area).

Paris Face Cachee - Clet Abraham - street art - Paris Underground

 

Paris Face Cachee - Clet Abraham - street art - Paris Underground

 

Paris Face Cachee - Clet Abraham - street art - Paris Underground

Paris Face Cachée, however, now in its second year, also includes family-friendly experiences at the request of participants. Working with a budget of €60,000, some of the tours for free, while others cost as much as €24 – the most expensive being a treasure hunt with a digital tablet.

Paris Face Cachee - Underground Paris Copyright

Bizot with Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads. Photo copyright Catherine Faux

The event poster which is currently omnipresent in the Paris Metro is designed around the street art of Clet Abraham – a sticker of man diverting the meaning of a no entry road sign with a sticker of the Eiffel Tower bent to the left. You can actually see Clet’s interventions stuck on street signs all around Paris. Clet Abraham is a Parisian ex-patriot, living in Florence, who makes a living as a street artist, painter and sculptor. There is now a gallery in Paris which specialises in artwork produced solely on road signage, including by Clet Abraham.

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Bizot’s book Underground, L’histoire (Denoël) published in 2001 uses the word underground, which he favoured over the term counter culture, he told French newspaper Liberation. Jean-François Bizot also wrote many other books including, Au parti des socialistes (The Socialist Party) (1975) with Leon Mercadet and Patrice Van Eersel, Les déclassés (The Downgraded) (1976) and Les Années blanches (The White Years) (1979). He also translated the works of Charles Bukowski, made documentaries for French TV channels, Arte and Canal +, and a movie, La Route (The Road) (1973).

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Paris Face Cachee - Clet Abraham - street art - Paris Underground

Paris Face Cachée takes placve on 1st, 2nd and 3rd February, 2013

Tickets are available online at www.parisfacecachee.fr.

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Check out more English and French language experiences at undergroundparis.org, including street art tours and stencil art graffiti workshops.

About the Author

Demian Smith starts out painting graffiti in the late ‘90s around Swiss Cottage in London, and ends up writing gossip journalism for the Daily Telegraph. Arrived in Paris in 2012 to establish Underground Paris.

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