When you travel, how do you best get to know a city? How do you get at its heart, unearthing the stories laying dormant in the ground and saturating the buildings, but largely unavailable to the one simply passing through? So much of travel is driven by the desire to know a place, and much of a traveler’s maturity comes from the humility of knowing you own nothing of the culture you have moved among.
I work among travelers and live among expats. It’s an environment where friends compare lists of cities visited with eyes rolled upward, as if trying to name all of their extended family. And in all my time as a traveler I have heard of few places that elicit such strong adoration or blatant dislike as Paris.
Even if, like myself, you have never been to Paris, you probably have some concept that you know Paris, at least on a basic level. You know about the Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. You know the city is crammed with shops selling pain au chocolat, cafe au lait, and brie. And you probably have some inherited prejudices, believing the French don’t like to give directions and the Mona Lisa is the least impressive part of the Louvre.
However, when I stumbled across Paris Re-Tale, the latest collaboration of German photographer Sebastian Erras and Pixartprinting, my base-line understand of Paris was challenged. Erras has told a decidedly different story of what makes Paris magic: perhaps it isn’t just the lovers clicking locks on the Pont des Arts or the innumerable twinkling monuments; perhaps the magic-makers are to be found in the city’s meticulously conserved storefronts among the inimitable shopkeepers within.
Pixart Printing’s gorgeous website presenting Paris Re-Tale allows you to step inside these stores and meet their owners. These are the voices of artists: puppeteers, pastry chefs, hostel managers, record collectors, graphic designers, paint mixers and more. Together these unique and concurrent voices provides a different answer as to what stokes the flame of the City of Light.