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The Paris Wall of Love

by Meredith Mullins on October 16, 2017

Couple in front of the Paris Wall of Love, seeing the many ways to say I Love You. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

The many ways to say “I Love You”
© Meredith Mullins

How To Say I Love You?
Let Us Count the Ways

Te amo . . . Sarang Hae (사랑해) . . . Nagligivagit . . . Ég elska pig . . . S’agapo . . . Mina rakastan sinua . . . Phom rak khun . . . Aishiteru (愛してる) . . . Je t’aime . . . Ya tebe kohayu . . . Rwy’n dy garu di . . . Ani ohev otach . . . Ik hou van je . . . Nakupenda . . . Wo ai ni (我爱你)

What does this parade of phrases have in common?

They are all ways to say “I love you”— language gems that are important in today’s world of far too much disaster, violence, mistrust, and hate.

What else do these terms of endearment have in common? They are all words that appear on the Wall of Love in Paris.

Can you guess the languages? (See the key at the end of this story for the answers.)

How to say I love you with love locks on the Paris Post des Arts, another way to say I love you from the Wall of Love. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

The glint of metal says “I love you” . . . but there are other ways.
© Meredith Mullins

Saying “I Love You” in the City of Love

Paris is a romantic city. In fact, along with its classic moniker (“City of Light”), it has earned the perhaps coveted title of “City of Love.” (What city wouldn’t want to be the center of love?)

From the thousands of love locks that once glinted on so many of the iconic bridges to romantic trysts on park benches tucked away in garden corners to passionate tango dancing by the Seine, Paris lives and breathes romance.

The Wall of Love (Mur des Je t’aime) is a more hidden tribute—nestled in the Square Jehan Rictus near the Place des Abbesses in Montmartre.

The Wall of Love in Montmartre Paris, showing us many ways to say I love you. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

A secret Montmartre garden with a treasured wall
© Meredith Mullins

The 40-square-meter, blue-tiled wall watches over the greenery of the peaceful park and the locals who choose to sit amidst the quiet.

The wall attracts visitors, lovers, (and selfie addicts) from around the world who either stumble upon it or have heard about this creative treasure and have come in the name of love.

The work is the brainchild of artist Frédéric Baron, a lover of travel, language, and romance. The dream emerged in 1992 as he collected simple statements of “I love you” from his family and neighbors, all from different cultures. Each person wrote his or her “I love you” words on a single page of a notebook.

Bengali way to say I love you from the notebook of the Wall of Love by Frédéric Baron. (Image © Fredéric Baron.)

A Bengali “I love you” from Frédéric Baron’s notebook.
© Frédéric Baron from the Book of “I Love You’s”

As the project grew, Frédéric found more neighbors and friends from different countries, and finally began knocking on embassy doors to explain his vision and collect the rarest of the languages.

“It was a way to go around the world without leaving Paris and its suburbs,” Frédéric noted.

The result was three notebooks filled with more than 1000 ways to say “I love you” in more than 300 languages.

Arabic way to say I love you from the notebook of the Wall of Love by Frédéric Baron. (Image © Fredéric Baron.)

An Arabic “I love you” from Frédéric Baron’s notebook.
© Frédéric Baron from the Book of “I Love You’s”

Frédéric and Claire Kito, an artist and practitioner of oriental calligraphy, collaborated to create the wall in the year 2000, with production assistance from Daniel Boulogne.

The wall is built with 612 enameled lava tiles, reminiscent of the pages of the notebooks. The 311 “I love you” phrases are expressed in 250 languages and dialects— all in white lettering in varying calligraphic styles.

In a 1999 interview, Claire explained that, in Chinese calligraphy, “the hand is guided by the heart.” She wanted to respect the spirit of the person who wrote the words. She wanted to preserve the rhythms and graphic quality of the original writing.

The Paris Wall of Love in Montmartre, showing ways to say I love you in many languages. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

Can you find the languages you know amidst the reflections off the shiny lava tiles?
© Meredith Mullins

All the languages of the United Nations are present, as well as languages such as Inuit, Navajo, Bambara (from Mali), Bislama (from Vanuatu), Dzongkha (from Bhutan), and Esperanto . . . to name a few of the lesser known languages.

Interspersed across the blue tiles are fragments of red, which, if brought together, form a heart. The artists intend the wall to be a healing force of love for the too often broken heart of humanity.

Part of the Wall of Love in Montmartre Paris, showing many ways to say I love you in different languages. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

T’estimo . . . Catalan for “I love you”
© Meredith Mullins

Why Build A Wall?

There were as many ways to express this creative concept as there are ways to say “I love you.”

For Frédéric and Claire, the wall was not meant to be the usual symbol of division and separation. It was a way to reunite the world, through the languages of love—a symbol of reconciliation and peace.

Part of the Paris Wall of Love in Montmartre Paris, showing many ways to say I love you in many different languages. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

Can you spot the Zulu word for “I love you”?
© Meredith Mullins

The “Oh I See” Hope: Love Will Triumph

As visitors look at the Wall of Love—with so many cultures, countries, races, lives, and languages united in saying “I love you”— a feeling of hope is inevitable.

The Wall of Love is meant to spread this hope . . . and love — “to erase borders and open hearts,” as Frédéric says.

A worthy dream.

Part of the Paris Wall of Love in Montmartre Paris, showing many ways to say I love you in different languages. (© Meredith Mullins.)

Can you find “Ek het jou lief”? And can you guess the language?
© Meredith Mullins

For a free download of Frédéric Baron’s book of “I Love You’s,” click here. 

To see more of Frédéric’s work, go to this site.

For more information about the Paris Love Locks, see this OIC Story.

Answer Key: Spanish, Korean, Inuit, Icelandic, Greek, Finnish, Thai, Japanese, French, Ukranian, Welsh,  Hebrew, Dutch, Swahili, Mandarin, (and for the last image—Afrikaans).

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.

 
Comments:

2 thoughts on “The Paris Wall of Love

    • Dear Pamela,

      The hidden treasures are waiting for us around every corner. That’s the beauty of life in Paris (as you know).

      What will be next? Always a wonderful surprise.

      Thanks for writing.

      All best,

      Meredith

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