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Why Teddy Bears Are Invading Paris

Last October, people started noticing an inordinate number of teddy bears in Paris. Then they began to spread to other cities. They sprang up again this year, as soon as the weather allowed, and no one seems to know why.

They came quietly. Massive teddy bears, popping up along Paris’ boulevard des Gobelins to cozy up in a bookshop, or relax en terrasse. Week after week, they seemed to multiply as if by magic, inciting joy and mystery in the otherwise humdrum 13th arrondissement. A little over a year later, and the nounours des Gobelins (Teddies of Les Gobelins) have extended their paws throughout the city and beyond, from France to New York City; from the streets of Montmartre to those of Sri Lanka. “We’ve seen them on the beach, in the mountains, you name it,” says the man behind the magic, who has asked that we only refer to him as Philippe le papa des nounours (Philippe, Father of the Teddies), “of course, everyone wants to know: why?” We had a chat with Philippe to set the record straight, only to discover that the answer isn’t as clear cut as you’d think. Luckily, it is as cute.

No, it's not an art installation. It doesn't have a grand purpose. And it wasn't even planned to turn out this way. Philippe tells the story of how this teddy bear thing got off the ground at Messy Messy Chic.

See a gallery of the teddies at Instagram.

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