November 17, 2023

Gérard Brion, Le Petit Paris / Little Paris

the Eiffel Tower as created in 1984
this picture and the next five courtesy of Gérard Brion

In the field of art environments the Eiffel Tower in Paris is a building that is often chosen to replicate by non-professional artists who express themselves in creating singular architecture. Some examples are mentioned at the end of this post. 

The replica of the Eiffel Tower in the image above was made in 1984 by Gerard Brion when he was 14 years old. He made the vertical elements of the structure as such from wood and the connecting crossings from corrugated sheet metal.

Life and works

The tower rose in the vegetable garden of a house, located in the green and open rural area of the municipality of Vaissac, a small community of now some 600 inhabitants in the Tarn et Garonne department of France.

view of the Seine with partly Eiffel Tower

Gérard Brion, who grew up in this house, was already at the age of five making all kinds of drawings, sometimes even including perspective. As a boy he also enjoyed painting and gardening.

He also thought of making miniatures, an idea he realized when in 1984 he saw a TV program about the Champs Elysées in Paris.

So at age 14 he made a replica of the Eiffel Tower and this was the start of a creative project in which he reconstructed in miniature the area in Paris near the tower: the striking buildings, the bridges over the Seine, the roads with busy car traffic, the trees along the roads.... 
Place de l'Obélisque

Brion had never been to Paris (that only happened when he was 25), so he did not have his own photos of buildings around the Eiffel Tower and he had to use images in magazines and books to replicate 40 characteristic buildings of the area. In addition, the replicas all had to be manufactured in the same 1:130 scale.

Using recycled materials, Brion built this art environment entirely by hand.

The images in this post show that he has succeeded wonderfully in producing replicas that correspond to reality. an this not only in terms of the similarity of the buildings, but also because of the representation of the liveliness of the great city that is Paris.

In this way it happened that in the vegetable garden of his parental home, on an area of some 500 m², gradually the miniature creation Petit Paris emerged.

Arc de Triomphe 

This development, however, went unnoticed by the general public. In all probability only people from the Vaissac area knew about it.

In the mid-1990s, when the site was already of a certain size, it had not yet been opened to visitors. Brion had moved to Brignoles in the south of France, more than 550 km away. and his father was already beginning to consider abolishing the creation.

But an event occurred that led to the official opening of the site. it's further development and a continuation with many visitors. On August 31, 1997, Lady Diana, member of the British royal family, lost her life in a car accident the tunnel of the Pont de l'Alma in Paris, a place that was part of the site of miniatures. 

Sympathetic residents from the area laid flowers at the location in question. Petit Paris became a place of pilgrimage, and got unparalleled publicity in national newspapers and TV broadcasts, which not only led to a large flow of visitors, but also to an irrepressible national fame.

Brion returned to Vaissac to help his father deal with the flow of visitors and the events made him decide to restart the further development of the site.
Notre Dame
And so it happened that in 2002 Petit-Paris officially opened as a tourist attraction. 

Brion's collection of reproductions he had made of paintings in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Mona Lisa included, was added to the site, a small-scale museum called Petit Louvre.

Another new part of the site was la Petite-France, a place where famous French buildings can be seen in miniature, such as castles along the Loire and the Cathedral of Strasbourg.

Intended relocation of the site to another location

Currently (2023) Gerard Brion intends to move the art environment, which has been open to the public for more than twenty years, to a location in the community of Champagne in the Chharente Maritime department, an area in France bordering the Atlantic Ocean. He already owns a 3-hectare site there.

The p[an has been explained in detail on a separate website Projet Petit Paris. There is a possibility of co-financing the new project.

The website includes a video (see below) with information about the realization and design of the current art environment. The intended move should be completed in 2025.

Assemblée Nationale

Website of Le Petit Paris
* Facebook account of Le Petit Paris 
Entry on TripAdvisor with a series of photos
Article on website Vivre Paris
Article (August 2023) in regional journal L'Opinion 
* Website Projet Petit Paris about the relocation of the site


* Video (September 2023) on the site of NEO on Facebook with Gérard Brion talking about the development of Petit Paris

* Video (YouTube, May 2023, 7'37" by Petit Paris Parc

Here are some examples of art environments in this blog that feature the Eiffel Tower: Henri Travert in France, Henk Olthof in the Netherlands, Albert Diekmann in Germany, Jaan Alliksoo in Estonia and Atom Grigoryan in Russia.

Gérard Brion
Petit Paris
3225 route des Teularios,
82800 Vaissac, dept Tarn et Garonne, region Occitanie, France
visitors welcome
Google Maps, with pictures

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