Sam at the wonderful Ghostsigns blog drew my attention to a photo taken in 1983 by Scott Phillips of an incredibly well-preserved Dubonnet wall ad. The question for Sam - and for me - was whether the ad still existed today. The photos below show the results of my investigation.
Scott Phillips' photo at the top, posted on his blog last week, already seems to come from another age. Although the basic street layout is almost identical, the colours and shapes of the vehicles show the picture's vintage. And then there is the very vivid painted ad. Such things are just not seen in Paris anymore, as my picture beneath shows, so what happened to the ad in the 30 years since the original photo was taken?
My guess would be that rather than it being simply a case of age and weathering, the ad would have been a victim of changes in advertising rules for alcoholic drinks. Although the painting was something of a rarity, the fact that it could be so clearly read - and was promoting a product that still exists - meant that the authorities had to do something about it.
By zooming in closer to the photo and playing around digitally with the image it is possible to see that the Dubonnet name is still legible at the bottom. Above that though, it seems that efforts to scrub away the brand name have revealed traces of even older ads beneath. Whispers of words and splashes of colours are visible, but their messages stay frustratingly out of reach.
There is one other mystery. Although it seems that work will soon begin on a large-scale development that may make these walls disappear completely, this does not explain why the rather attractive windows that were visible between the two ads in 1983 have since been walled over (the other windows further back are still open to the air).
Perhaps we may as well ask why they don't make yellow cars anymore.
Note: the wall is situated alongside the Vaneau Metro station (visible on the right-hand side of the photos) in the 6th arrondissement.