© Boulogne-sur-Mer, œuvre de Case Maclaim | L. de Rocquigny - OTBCO

Street Art: Art in the Open

There’s so much urban art in these towns, you can’t help but stop and admire it. The walls of our cities have a soul, and they tell us stories, so walking around feels like strolling through a museum or open-air art gallery. From Lille to Roubaix or Tourcoing, from Boulogne to Saint Quentin, talented urban artists have carte blanche to create art for all to see.

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©Cedric Debonnet - Ville de Tourcoing
Lille

01. The Renart Collective

Take an urban art tour of Lille with Julien Prouveur of the Renart Collective and check out the giant murals, graffiti and tags in the Moulins district around Gare Saint Sauveur or in Wazemmes. You can also do the tour by bicycle, following a special “wall art” map that’s downloadable from the Lille Tourist Office website. You’ll undoubtedly come across the portrait of General de Gaulle by Mister P, a famed graffiti artist from Tourcoing. His tagged image of the illustrious French president can be seen not only in Lille but also in Paris and other capitals around the world.

Get there:

Renart Collective

58 rue du Faubourg des Postes

F-59000 LILLE

Roubaix

02. Celebrating urban art!

 

 

Roubaix is a hotbed of highly creative and eclectic graffiti artists, even attracting international stars like JonOne, a native New Yorker who moved to Paris and then fell in love with Roubaix for its rich social history. There are two street art trails to follow, on foot or by bike, although the biggest concentration of artworks can be enjoyed in the Pile district near the Condition Publique.

Tourcoing

03. Mister P and his spraycans

In Tourcoing, a 6.5 km walk takes you from the new Union district to the epicentre of town, passing the train station on the way with its 11 works by local urban artists – so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Creative paintbrushes and marker pens have made this town look fantastic!

Boulogne-sur-Mer

04. Where street art flourishes

The singular, secretive town of Boulogne-sur-Mer comes up with a fresh route for visitors to enjoy during its Street Art Trail festival every year. This unpredictable tour feels surprisingly modern in a harbour city whose heritage has earned it the official City of Art and History badge. Artists from here and everywhere are given free rein to decorate building facades, house gables and street furniture with their paints, guided only by inspiration. Big-name contributors include Kobra (Brazil) and Alaniz (Argentina) along with locals FLAG, Marie Lou Peeren and Gaawouel, to name but a few. Some have even won France’s Golden Street Art award!

Saint-Quentin

05. “This is not a Tag”

Saint Quentin fills its streets with contemporary art, turning itself into an open-air museum.

Every year, urban art event “This is not a Tag” contributes to this renewal by inviting street artists to use the town as their canvas. The result feels rather like a treasure hunt, as you wander the streets looking out for artworks like Monsieur Chat’s intervention on Rue Victor-Basch. Keep your eyes peeled, or you’ll miss some of the little gems in hidden corners. Saint Quentin is reviving its street life by combining Art Deco with urban art in a perfect mix.