Rebel France (1/2)

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What if the walls around you were wiser than you expected?

Lately, I became interested in graffiti found on cities walls. Not the illegible signatures but rather the drawings, the short sentences, sometimes political, sometimes poetic, sometimes naive and sometimes so true. So here a few pictures I took in France last month. You will find their meaning below the mosaic.

From top left to bottom:

  • Fuck Sarko: Sarko is, of course, short for Sarkozy, our…er… beloved President. I found that on a wall nearby the shipyards, on the island of Nantes, in my hometown.
  • The guy in jail and the anarchy symbol painted over it: this picture was taken in the bathroom (yes, I know…!) of a popular hangout in Nantes, the Lieu Unique (“Unique Place“), a former biscuit factory now a trendy bar. I guess this is modern art…
  • La gauche cherche un homme… des hommes…: this poster was glued on a mailbox. It means “the left-wing is looking for a leader…supporters…“. The “Parti Socialiste” (Socialist Party) is pretty weak in France now and it needs a strong leader. Still looking for it…
  • La France solidaire, le gouvernement en colère: “French are in solidarity with each other, the government is angry“. These two lines were written on a garbage can, probably following the latest demonstrations.
  • Saccage ta ville, annihile ta cage: “destroy your city, destroy your cage“. This was written on a wall in one of Nantes’ poshest district.
  • Demonstration against a new airport: flyers were found everywhere when people in Nantes opposed against the construction of a new airport.

About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Wow … now if you were to come to America, you’d find several different forms of graffiti. We have the inner-city type, usually part of a minority’s subculture. We have the hobo’s script, which is rare and hard to find but still exists – every once in a great while I’ll see a marking of it. And, techie’s graffiti, usually pointing the way to a wifi hotspot or a LAN easily hacked. NYC would be the only place I’d find that, but I understand it’s rarer now.

    Ghosty’s last blog post..Perfect Gifts

  2. Salut Zhu,

    Where I live (92), it’s rare that I see political statements in graffiti. They are mostly trying to mark their terretory, and tag up what is for us, strange names.
    A very interesting look on urban culture.

    I didn’t know you were Nantaise … I have never visted Nantes before. Nice to situate where your French roots go back to ( my hubby & I do genealogy here in France,and I try to do mine which is in the US).That’s another story…

    Have a nice day 😉

    barbara’s last blog post..Call it “linky love”

  3. I don’t know if the skeleton head would make me want to run as the socialist leader or supporter. Is there graffiti in Ottawa? I like graffiti, but only in certain places. There’s some nice graffiti in Toronto, but mostly it’s boring. I don’t understand graffiti that is just spray painted signatures. Why go through all the trouble if your only going to mark your territory. That’s what dogs do.

    johnada’s last blog post..7 THINGS ABOUT STUFF (Part 3)

  4. Hiya Zhu!

    You are so right about the messages that some graffiti artists send in their art. The messgaes can be very political and poetic at the same time.

    There is a guy called “Banksy” who is from a town very close to where I live, who has become world famous for his graffiti work. It is now seen as an honour to have a wall in your town painted on by Banksy. His work now sells for upto $1m. His fame has come about because of the types of messages he leaves… he also stays out of the public eye… nobody really knows who he is… (a bit like a secret voice of the masses!!!).

    The website about him is well worth a look!:

    Graham’s last blog post..A experimental photograph

  5. Max Coutinho on

    Salut Zhu,

    I say: France at its best lol! 😉
    Oh, we are also going to have a new airport, but no one here protests against it 😯 !


    Max Coutinho’s last blog post..Will

  6. Our graffitti is more gang signs. Sometimes you will see little declarations of love or that someone was here, which dosn’t really bother me but I really hate the gang banger’s graffitti. Such a disrespect of public property.
    Is there not a French word for “fuck”? lol

    Tanya’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  7. @Ghosty – Never heard of the techie graffiti! Or maybe I saw some but didn’t really knew them… We have the subculture grafs as well but these ones are just blah to me.

    @barbara – Yeah, I see what you mean, saw a lot of these in 93 as well. Nantes is a really nice place, you should visit one day! Only 2 hrs by TGV from Montparnasse 😉

    @johnada – Didn’t think of the skeleton thing! 😆 I guess it shows that Socialism is *a bit* dead right now in France!

    There are graffiti in Ottawa, mostly weird drawings or signatures which I don’t like. We also have a guy who tag “9/11 was an inside job” everywhere 😯

    @Graham – Thanks for the link, I’ll check out his work! I’m not anit-graffiti as long as they express something. They don’t bother me much to be honest and I tend to see art everywhere so… 😆

    @Theresa – Lots of Brittany separatist graffiti as well when I was there but I didn’t bother with those. I like words better than actual fights so graffiti are a minor “annoyance” I think. People need to express themselves it seems…

    @Max Coutinho – I wasn’t actually sure why people were protesting against the airport… environmentalism reasons I guess. That’s France!

    @Colleen – A tiny little smurf. Agreed!

    @Tanya – French has soooo many words for “fuck”… I guess the author wanted to reach an English public — I swear it wasn’t mine! 😆

    I don’t mind graffiti that much actually. Most of the one I took were quite small and I found them quite interesting.

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