04 Oct The Best Photos In Paris Are Shown In A Shower, Why I Love Les Douches
If you want to know an intimate venue that is clearly one of Paris best-kept secrets, you have to visit Les Douches. There are many reasons throughout the year to be a part of the bubbling cultural scene of arts in Paris and once you belong to that circle, you will most likely go see amazing stuff at Les Douches way more than once. Read on to learn everything about how to see the most amazing photographs in a public bathroom.
Once A Public Bathroom
The first thing that Drew my attention to Les Douches is the location. It is literally hidden in a completely secondary street close to the Canal Saint Martin. From the outside, the building is just another one in the block and you will never imagine that inside the walls feature pictures by the most important photographers in the world. The place itself used to be a public bathroom. I know that it sounds weird and the minute I got to Paris and learnt that Parisians still do it I felt even more weird. There are almost 20 municipal public bathrooms in Paris where people take hot showers and take their kids. It is a custom that can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire and the ruins of Les Thermes de Cluny are still standing to prove it.
There is a very curious fact in Parisian culture that dates back to Henry XIII and that is that for a period of time, medicine didn´t encourage bathing (this could be an explanation for the French perfume industry, right?) and lots of buildings were raised without any plumbing or showers. So, Les Douches used to be one of this places that were so common especially in the 1800s.
Now An Incredible Gallery
The entrance doesn´t say much, it´s only a door with a bell and a long stairway that leads to the first floor. I got there and looked around to see the ticket box, but the entrance to this gallery is completely free. First great fact that enhances an already great place. I always loved the little hidden treasures that Paris gives to people just around the corner. In this city you just never know what´s behind a wall, it might be the secret hidden place where art work is hanging from walls and can only be accessed by connoisseurs. But let´s get back to Les Douches. There I was, standing in the middle of an unimpressive, not-so-big room in a very old building with photographs on each wall. I was looking at my friend and we were both like “is this it?”.
The walls at that time were showing us the amazing work of Vivian Maier. If you are not familiar with her name, you should definitely open another tab in your browser and google her work. She is one of the most influential female photographers of the 20th Century and gained that title snap after snap. I couldn´t believe I didn´t have to pay a huge entrance fee to see that amazing work and even bought a photography book before I left. Go to Les Douches if you have the chance, you won´t regret it.