If you’ve ever driven through France, you’ve probably noticed the high number of roundabouts directing the flow of traffic. The Place Charles de Gaulle is the most famous French roundabout, but all across the country, communities are taking advantage of this unused space to create art installations.
Varying in size from a small circle to large open spaces, roundabouts often go unnoticed, but French drivers are taking note of these humble traffic circles as they fill up with sculptures, creative architecture, and other cultural symbols. Some of the sculptures include a giant snail looking into a mirror, a large chair, and paper boats which appear to have run aground.
A major artist behind the movement to beautiful roundabouts is Jean-Luc Plé. Called the “king of roundabouts,” the former factory worker has created dozens of oversized sculptures for roundabouts across the country. He works with city officials to settle on a design before building the sculpture out of crash-safe polyurethane foam. His newest project is a large hot air balloon that will go up in the balloon-loving town of Val des Vignes.
The concept of the roundabout was simultaneously invented in the US and France, but even before they were installed to control the flow of traffic, decorative roundabouts were common in French gardens, including in the grounds of the castle of Versailles.
Image source: Google Earth