Showcase for Art


How France Turned the Humble Roundabout Into a Showcase for Art

From children’s boats to snails and a giant thumb, the spaces drivers pass around are now islands of creativity. 

Thousands of visitors recently flocked to France’s most famous roundabout — Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris — to see its centerpiece Arc de Triomphe wrapped in fabric by the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

But, away from international crowds, there are myriad lesser known projects that dot the islands of more humble traffic circles across France. A construction frenzy in recent decades to reduce accidents opened up the opportunity for creativity: how to use tens of thousands of empty spaces that range in diameter from just a few meters to the length of two soccer fields.

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