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N’Importe Quoi Photo of the Week: These Monuments Sponsored By…

Hard to miss the gigantic ads covering Paris’s iconic monuments. On the Conciergerie, which dates back to the 10th century, is an Apple advertisement. This building was once a Royal Palace, and later on the prison where Marie Antoinette and over a thousand others were held before going to the guillotine during the French Revolution.


As the monument most covered during renovations at the moment, it would have been nicer to have an image of the actual monument screened onto the scaffolding cover (like the current facade of the Crillon Hotel on Place de la Concorde).

A small section of the Louvre Museum being renovated is covered with a watch ad. The third largest museum in the world dates back to the 12th century, built as a fortress under Philippe-Auguste and then transformed into a royal palace in the 14th century. At least the trees help cover the ad a bit, and it doesn’t stick out as much as the huge white Apple ad.

Orsay ad

Finally, the Musée d’Orsay, a former Belle Epoque train station built for the 1900 World’s Fair, has a small section of its facade covered with a l’Oréal advertisement. At least there’s a Paris theme to this one (that’s Parisian style icon Inès de la Fressange).

I can’t recall ever seeing ads like this before on Parisian monuments. Does the money go to help ay for these renovations? In any case, it’s horrific to see. I took a cruise down the Seine with clients last week and it feels like every big monument was just an ad. Let’s just hope the travaux is over soon and they’ll disappear.

As an aside, I should mention that the Vedettes du Pont Neuf seem to be using only interns for their commentary. The last two trips I took this month were both narrated by French girls who could barely describe the sites we were seeing in French, and their English was so laughable, I had to repeat it myself to my clients so they’d understand. At the end the girls apologize for any errors, explaining that they are not professionals and that it’s only their first (or second) time commentating. Then they ask for tips. Personally, I think clients should be getting a discount if they can’t understand what’s being said. Shame…


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  • I totally agree with everything in this post! And I love the blog and newsletters. Well done, Heather!

  • As we boated down the Seine last week, I thought the ad on the Musee D'Orsay was a clever use of space (unfortunately I'm an economist!) but my wife shared your view and said it was unbelievably tacky. Having now seen La Concierge, I agree completely with both my wife and yourself.

  • I'm not a rich person. Two of my accomplishments in life are being able to visit Paris and Venice. I was fortunate to visit Paris in the 2000's. At that time these advertisements were on the Place Vendome, but were not plastered all over the sights of Paris.However, in Venice a few years ago, they covered everything, leaving the Bridge of Sighs floating in a world of fake-looking clouds and advertisements for expensive watches. What a disappointment to make THE one trip to Venice in my lifetime only to be photographed in front of a watch ad.

  • I'm with you 100% — a couple of years ago in Venice we were treated to a Movado ad instead of the lovely Bridge of Sighs.Uck.I have since decided to boycott every company whose ads I see smeared across old buildings like this.I don't really care if the money goes to pay for the restoration or not — there are subtle, classy ways to announce that you're subsidizing the project. And double shame on the city for whoring out our collective heritage and history.

  • In Miami, Florida, those huge tacky advertisements are every where! But those ads are on buildings that lack the cache of Paris, France monuments.How sad that the monuments are covered with ads. I hope when I visit this September, those ads are the silk screened representations you suggested! If not…well…maybe will have to view the experience as a unique moment in French life, where tackiness and money triumphs over class. We'll see!As for the guides on the river, ARGH. I have had way too many tour guides speak another language so badly that I wanted a refund! This is for Spanish or English! I am on the hunt for podcasts, to download for my listening pleasure! At least that way I will understand the speaker! 😉

  • Totally agree with you about ads on historic buildings and monuments. For some reason, the word "tacky" leaps to mind. What's next, Golden Arches hanging from the Arc de Triomphe? Col. Sanders smiling down from the Eiffel Tower? Call me a flawed human being if you like, but I find all that in incredibly poor taste.

  • Thank you so much for the post – the same thoughts have been running through my mind every time I'm on the quais of late.

  • Heather,Nice to see I wasn't the only one horrified by the Apple ad on the Conciergerie. I had family in from the States and was showing them around. As soon as I passed Hotel de Ville on my way across the river it jumped out at me. What a monstrosity.

  • What's wrong with interns??? 🙂 Seriously though, the ads have to go. Scaffolding is fine, but commercializing the Louvre is a little tacky…