Why are 65 inflatable polar bears scattered around Paris?

If you've been wandering the streets of Paris recently you may have noticed some visitors from the Arctic.

Why are 65 inflatable polar bears scattered around Paris?
Photo: AFP

The inflatable polar bears – positioned over air vents and street grates to make them move – are the work of the French street artist known simply as Olivier.

As the capital broiled in an unprecedented heatwave, the artist created the unseasonal visitors to draw attention to climate change.


The artist told French newspaper Le Parisien that he wanted to “use poetry to make people accept reality: that the climate is changing”.

Olivier, 50, is well known for creating inflatables as part of his street art, his previous collections have included the Elef de la Goutte d'Or – a collection of fantastical creatures scattered throughout Paris' 18th arrondissement, where he lives.

“I have already installed about 500 animals: giraffes, elephants. They attract people. Residents, mothers, police officers, drug addicts, homeless people start talking together,” he added.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”