Parisians have fallen in love with giant teddy bears that have been popping up all over the city since October.
You may have come across similar oversized stuffed teddy bears at your local retailer and wondered (like many of us) who on earth is buying them.
The bears are gigantic — swallowing up all the extra space in a child’s bedroom or possibly becoming Fido’s newest chew toy.
But one bookstore owner has found a niche for these bears — and Paris citizens are loving the joy these cuddly characters bring to the city.
Residents in the neighborhood of Les Gobelins in Paris started noticing the stuffed bears carefully poised in different settings around town.
Bears were seen eating at cafes, decorating windowsills and just kind of hanging around the metro transit areas.
The mastermind behind the carefully placed bears is a local bookshop owner named Phillipe who wanted to find a fun way to create a little community in his neighborhood.
Phillipe spoke with French publication Le Parisien about the project, saying how it’s helped him feel more connected to the people in his community.
“I’ve been working here for 25 years,” Phillipe told Le Parisien, translated by The Local.
“There were people I had never spoken to. Now they call me Philippe.”
Citizens are absolutely loving the surprise and joy brought about by their new bear-friends, and even created a Facebook page completely dedicated to bear sightings.
A neighboring pharmacy worker, Emmanuel, said it’s still a mystery as to how Phillipe acquires the teddy bears.
Phillipe has worked quietly for months placing the bears around town and has only recently come forward as the bear visionary.
“He bought them out of his own money and lends them out,” Emmanuel said. “It’s done to bring people together. It is the antithesis of a marketing gimmick.”
Around 50 bears are in Phillipe’s possession, and he said he plans to keep them in the public eye at least until the local Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6.
Beyond that date, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not the bears will continue to hang out in their home sweet home of Paris, France.
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