Denis-Papin staircase

An iconic attraction in Blois, the monumental Denis-Papin staircase overlooks the town, provides an unforgettable panoramic view, and regularly enlivens urban space with its original, grandiose decorations.

Summer 2023: “My world blossomed when I loved you”

On the occasion of the 19th Promenades photographiques, which will be held of the first time in Blois from 30 June to 30 August 2023, the Town of Blois has decided to showcase the collages and photography of a duo of Greek artists, working under the pseudonym of Frank Moth, and authors of the illustration for the poster for the Rendez-vous de l’Histoire 2023 (4 to 8 October 2023) on the theme “The living and the dead”.

Frank Moth is Eleftherios S. & Marianna M. born and raised in Veria and Heraklion, Greece. In 2014 they created and developed the brand Frank Moth as an artist alias in an attempt to escape from the ephemeral and hard present to a nostalgic past future. Having lived and worked in many different cities in Greece, they’ve come to reside in Veria in 2022, where they work from their studio and constantly experiment with new and old ideas.

Frank Moth creates nostalgic postcards from a distant but at the same time familiar future. He makes digital collages and compositions with specific, distinctive color palettes, in a struggle for eternity through humility.
Frank Moth works have been shown through many publications and online galleries around the world. Among the places you can find Frank Moth collages is Stanford University, Bullitt Hotel in Ireland, the permanent collection of the State Library of Victoria in Australia as well as many restaurants and hotels worldwide. Selected clients include The New York Times, Adobe, Artful Living...

Frank Moth’s philosophy of work: “exploring the truth by collaging pixels”

In many of Frank Moth’s works people are pictured gazing upon themselves and their own lives on Earth from some distant point in outer space. The perspective of all things always seems to be on a strange verge, between a dream and an urban daily life.

The smothering failure of man to define and refine happiness today within geographic, temporal, and material (technological and consumerist) bounds, is repeatedly alluded to through the use of old, manipulated paper ads from decades past, as well as old fashion magazines.

Many of the artworks feature a subtle expression of companionship or the silent, solitary, obsessive search for it (the people usually have their backs turned and there is a hint of movement in the scenery), combined with the surreal size disproportion and the disturbed relation between man and his environment/ surroundings.

A look back on past decorations

Fall 2022: Jim Hawkins of Sébastien Vastra, echo of bd BOUM 2022

The Denis-Papin staircase has been put in the colors of bd BOUM, this time adorning itself with the pirate from the universe of Sébastien Vastra: Jim Hawkins. A scenographed exhibition was dedicated to this series as part of the 39th edition of the festival. On the program: albums, authors and authors, publishing houses, exhibitions and meetings, but also cinema, rock, pirates, and Algeria. Full program on the website of the association bdboum.com

Summer 2022: art is life!

“Art is life” is a very Fluxus theme — the artistic movement at the heart of the Foundation of doubt project, whose 60th anniversary is being celebrated in 2022. scenography. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Fluxus movement and the reopening of the Foundation of doubt, this volume typographic decoration pays tribute and revisits the world of George Maciunas, a major artist of the movement. The Fluxus spirit of the staircase also extends to an exceptional mosaic of 4,000 plants, created by the Parks and Gardens Department of the Town of Blois.

Winter 2021: Anooki

A couple of Inuit, the Anooki are 2 playful characters, terribly endearing. Their sea ice has melted, so they travel the planet and invade public space. Accustomed to the largest cities in the world (Osaka, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.), the Anooki were in Blois throughout the month of December 2021, with a sound and light show (in “video mapping”) on the facades of the Royal Castle, and by giant inflatable and illuminated art installations throughout the city center.

Stan Manoukian’s monsters

Stan Manoukian transformed the staircase in a den of dreamlike creatures, to celebrate the comics festival bd BOUM (where an exhibition will be dedicated to him at the Halle aux grains). A monsters hunt and workshops for children are also scheduled during this month.

Summer 2021: The ideal library

Escape through reading was the theme of the summer of 2021 in Blois. More than 900 people responded to the City’s call and proposed more than 2,000 different books, to make up this giant fresque. Other sets have also been installed on public space, to continue traveling in other times and worlds through books.

Autumn 2020: tribute to Mickey

The world famous mouse invited itself to Blois, in the fall of 2020! It was the work of Régis Loisel, one of the sponsors of the Year of comics, and who paid tribute to Mickey in 2016 with his album Café Zombo.

Decoration made by the City according to drawings by Régis Loisel, in collaboration with the comics festival bd BOUM, Disney and Glénat BD editions.

Summer 2020: 20th anniversary of the inscription of the Loire Valley as a World Heritage Site

During the summer of 2020, Blois celebrated the 20th anniversary of the inscription of the Loire Valley as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Loire Valley has witnessed a harmonious development of interactions between human beings and their environment, over more than two thousand years of history. That is Unesco’s analysis, which inscribed it it 2000 on the World Heritage List, thus recognizing it as Outstanding Universal Value. Learn more with the Val de Loire Mission…

For the first time, the decor extended along Denis-Papin street, as an invitation to (re)discover the banks of the Loire, for a walk to the rhythm of the current and tern fights.

2019 : Mona Lisa, for the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance

La Joconde sur l’escalier Denis-Papin (pose)

Blois has been actively participating in the “500 years Renaissance(s)” program initiated in 2019 by the Centre-Val de Loire region. The year 2019 represents the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci at the Clos Lucé in Amboise, the 500th anniversary of the birth of Catherine de’ Medici and the 500th anniversary of the commencement of construction of the château of Chambord. Further information on the anniversary (in French only).

As a complement to the events organized in Blois to celebrate the first of these anniversaries and to pay tribute to Leonardo da Vinci, the risers of the Denis-Papin staircase are comprehensively covered over, from April to October 2019, by a modern-day reconstitution of the celebrated painting by Leonardo, the Mona Lisa.

A 10-kilometer (6-mile) panorama

Since the 19th century, the Denis-Papin staircase has provided a link between the upper town and the lower town of Blois. On the uppermost of its 120 steps, interrupted by four landings, visibility under a clear blue sky may attain 10 kilometers, and areas beyond Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt are glimpsed.

A statue of the great inventor Denis Papin

On the uppermost landing,  there is a statue of Denis Papin. Sculpted by Aimé Millet and inaugurated on 29 August 1880, it pays homage to the inventor from Blois, who imagined the steam engine; the adjoining street bears his name.

Giant and original decorations

Since 2013, the staircase risers have been “dressed” in giant artwork responding to what’s happening in town. Eagerly awaited each year, the visual display allows art to invest public space, dynamizes the town center, makes the town’s cultural high points better known, encourages active participation and enhances awareness of the town’s peculiarities in an original and playful manner.

Denis Papin (22 August 1647–1714) was a French physicist, mathematician and inventor. He is especially remembered for his work on what was to become the steam engine. Born a few miles from Blois in the small village of Chitenay, Papin took courses in a Jesuit school before studying at the university of Angers and earning a degree in medicine while showing talent and taking a pronounced interest in physics. After having received a doctorate in 1669, only two years later he was an assistant to the astronomer and polymath Christian Huygens, director of the French academy of sciences, at the Louvre. Exiled to England due to the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (Papin was a Huguenot), he invented the steam digester, a kind of pressure cooker with a safety valve. In later years, residing in Kassel (Germany), he established the principle of the piston steam engine (1697). Destitute and largely forgotten, he died in England.

Engraving of the inauguration and archival photo of the Denis Papin statue

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