The ‘I Love You Wall’, Paris

The name of the wall sounds so much better in French, Le mur des je t’aime (I love you: the Wall), a unique Parisian site, nestling in a romantic garden inside the Jehan Rictus Square.

A PHOTO DEPICTS the ‘I Love You Wall,’ in Montmartre, Paris.  (photo credit: BEN G. FRANK)
A PHOTO DEPICTS the ‘I Love You Wall,’ in Montmartre, Paris.
(photo credit: BEN G. FRANK)
I wasn’t surprised when I bumped into the I Love You Wall, – a must-see for couples from all over the world visiting Paris. After all, this is Paris, the “City of Romance,” the “City of Love.”
The name of the wall sounds so much better in French, Le mur des je t’aime (I love you: the Wall), a unique Parisian site, nestling in a romantic garden inside the Jehan Rictus Square, Place des Abbesses, Montmartre (Metro station: Abbesses).
The wall, a work of art conceived by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito in 2000, is a must-see for couples or singles from all over the world visiting Paris. The wall covers a surface area of 40 m., and is composed of 612 squares of enameled lava, on which the words “I love you” appears 311 times in 250+ languages. As one observer put it: “This is a space where love comes together in every language, from Russian to Hebrew to Chinese to Arabic.” All 192 nations that make up the United Nations are represented on the wall.
Some who come here just want a photo op for one of the most iconic spots you can visit in Montmartre. The splashes of red on the fresco represent parts of a broken heart, symbolizing the human race, which has been torn apart, and which the wall tries to bring back together.
Admission is free; it’s a public space. Open Monday to Friday, at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 9 a.m. Closing time depends on the season; winter months around 5:30 p.m., spring and summer, closure is from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Of course, there are other romantic spots in the world. Venice has its Bridge of Sighs, Agra its Taj Mahal. Let us hope that Paris, the “City of Love” and the “City of Light,” will forever be illuminated and radiant from its new jewel, the I Love You Wall.
One can walk from the wall to the nearby steps of the Sacre-Couer Basilica. Montmartre itself rises from the old outer boulevards of Paris with its innumerable restaurants, cabarets, dance halls to finish in a plateau on which stands Sacre-Couer. This church – 130 m. above ground, with 300 steps – overlooks almost all of Paris in a breathtaking, panoramic view. It is said that after the wall, this spot is likely the most popular marriage proposal point in the 18th arrondissement.
After my visit to the wall, and tired from walking Montmartre’s narrow, cobblestone streets, I sat in front of a district sidewalk café in and watched the world go by, a popular pastime. Many never tire playing the people-watch parade: The persons strolling in front of the café look at the people sitting in the café, and the people resting in the café watch the persons sauntering in front of the café.
ONE NEVER rests too long in Paris, however. Besides, one cannot fully appreciate Montmartre except on foot. Any mention of Montmartre must include Le Moulin Rouge, one of the most famous cabarets in the world.
You can’t miss it if you get off at Blanche Metro station on Line 2. There are shows every day; but tickets go fast. Be sure to book in advance. Address is 82 Boulevard de Clichy.
Once upon a time, Paris had a lot of windmills. Dozens of these windmills stood in Montmartre, not counting the windmill topping the Moulin Rouge.
Later, I took the metro over to Les Bouquinistes, which is across the river from Notre Dame. Positioned there are dozens of little book-stands that sell posters, postcards and old books. On the poster I bought, Moulin Rouge is featured.
Three wonderful museums in Montmartre, known as the artists’ village, are especially worth visiting. Musée de Montmartre, 12 rue Cortot. Here, one can relate to Montmartre’s history through paintings, posters and drawings. Musée d’Art Naif-Max Fourny, 2 rue Ronsard, has both permanent and temporary collections filled by contemporary artists. Finally, Espace Dalí, 11 Rue Poulbot, near the popular Place du Tertre. This museum is a must for any fans of the Spanish art icon, arguably one of the most well-known artists who ever lived in Montmartre.
Travel is also recounting and being reminded of history. There are over 2,000 hotels in Paris. I stopped at the Hotel California, at 16 rue de Berri, just steps away from the Champs Elysees. Built in 1925 by the famous Art Deco architect Louis Duhayon and designed as a large private mansion, the hotel today contains majestic chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and a collection of over 3,000 paintings. This hotel also has a connection with the birth of the State of Israel, which I discovered in researching one of my travel books.
I had stayed at the Hotel California a number of years ago and often walked up and down rue de Berri, on which was located the Paris office of the well-known American newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune and later the International Herald Tribune.
Between June 1947 and October 1949, the Jewish Agency, which became the Israeli government in 1948, made a number of weapon purchases in Czechoslovakia. In his book, Open The Gates: A Personal Story of “Illegal” Immigration to Israel, the late Ehud Avriel, one of the principal operators of the Mossad, describes how in late 1947, he checked into the Hotel California, which he says in his book was next door to the Mossad office. As disclosed in the book, the stationary, used to order the arms “had been preserved in the Paris office.” (The stationary is reported to have been from Ethiopia; it was needed, as Israel was not yet an official state.) Three Czech arms shipments arrived in the Yishuv before May 14, 1948. With that ammunition, the Hagana had “a stockpile of thousands of weapons that it could freely deploy.” The arms arrived during the toughest stages of the War of Independence and undoubtedly helped Israel win the war.
Ben G. Frank, travel writer and travel talk presenter, is the author of A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, 4th ed., (Pelican Publishing) and the just-published historical novel: Klara’s War, (Amazon.com), as well as The Scattered Tribe, Traveling the Diaspora from Cuba to India to Tahiti and Beyond, (Globe Pequot Press). Follow him on Twitter @bengfrank.


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