|"Paris te souris" -- Paris smiles at you!|
Shortly after we settled into our seats in a café, Karin removed a small object swaddled in tissues from her purse and ceremoniously placed it on the table between us. With an impish grin, she revealed that she had found a little white mouse in front of the Fondation Louis Vuitton and wanted me to have it. Letting out a shriek of recognition as soon as I saw the plaster creature, I told Karin that it resembled the pair of mystery mice I had spotted on the Saint Paul metro sign a couple of weeks ago.
To unravel the meaning of the mice, my Swiss-German friend instructed me to think in French. When she saw the baffled look on my face, Karin pointed at the mouse and patiently asked me what it's called in French. Of course! It's a souris, which sounds exactly like the imperative form of the French verb sourire, to smile. A Parisian woman, who had also found a mouse at Fondation Louis Vuitton, told Karin that they're part of a project to spread happiness.
|My little "Paris te souris" mouse from Karin|
Fortunately, the mouse came equipped with an email address stamped on its belly. In response to my questions, its creator replied that the mouse is "a little ambassador of Paris, of France and of French values". Since the project first started in Toulouse, more than 30,000 "Paris te souris" mice have made their way around the world. One has traveled to Los Angeles and another in the opposite direction to Varanasi, India. No matter their final destination, their creator hopes to set off a chain reaction of smiles where they're most needed.
The epicenter of the smile project is a workshop on the Île Saint-Louis. That's where Dutch artist Kees van Dijk makes his revolutionary army of white mice out of 15 kg sacks of plaster from Leroy Merlin at Châtelet.
If you're lucky enough to find or receive one of van Dijk's mice, smile and share photos of it on social media with #Paristesouris. Let's help these little white mice spread happiness to the far corners of the world!
|Photo credit: Kees van Dijk|