In Pictures: Frenchman drafts in giant teddy bears to cheer up Parisians

Much to the surprise (and delight) of the residents of one Paris district, 50 giant teddy bears have appeared in their area, with a local shop owner putting them everywhere from Metro stations to cafes and florists with the sole purpose of bringing a smile to people's faces. Take a look at the brilliant images.

In Pictures: Frenchman drafts in giant teddy bears to cheer up Parisians
Photo: Les nounours des gobelins Facebook page
We've all heard of the teddy bears' picnic but, perhaps fed up with cupcakes and cucumber sandwiches, it seems they have set their sights on a city break this autumn.
The 50 bears, which are about four and a half feet tall and weigh about 4.9kg, were introduced by the owner of a local bookseller to the neighbourhood of Les Gobelins, just a few metres away from Place d'Italie, in the 13th arrondissement of the French capital at the end of October. 
And since then they've shown up in shop windows, at the hairdressers, on cafe terraces, at the wine seller's and one was even suspended above the Metro station entrance.  
And they've won the support of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
“Bravo and thank you,” tweeted the mayor saying the bears “created a link between people”.
On Monday, their antics went a step further when 37 appeared in the windows of the Grand Hotel des Gobelins (see photo below).  
Philippe, 40, is a local bookshop owner and the man behind the teddy bear invasion. 
“I've been working here for 25 years,” he told Le Parisien. “There were people I had never spoken to. Now they call me Philippe.”
And Philippe has mischievously been keeping the whole affair wrapped in a cloak of mystery. 
“We do not know where he gets his teddy bears,” Emmanuel, who works in the neighbouring pharmacy told Le Parisien.
“He bought them out of his own money and lends them out. It's done to bring people together. It is the antithesis of a marketing gimmick.”
Some people in the area are still at a loss with regards to what it's all about, with some local shop workers telling Le Parisien that they thought it was the mayor who had put the bears there to entertain children and others saying that they thought they were Christmas decorations.
“When I discovered this in the neighborhood, though I was hallucinating,” Adele told the French press. “I find it unusual and awesome. People stop, astonished, in front of the shop windows, take a picture of them. And smile.”
The bears aren't only popular with those who cross their path in Gobelins, a Facebook page dedicated to them has had 225,000 visits.
And luckily for those who have already come to consider them part of the furniture, Philippe says they'll be sticking around until at least the Galette des Rois celebration on January 6th.

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro