Lonely Planet Writer

A French dam transformed into a work of art with this stunning mural is a hiker's dream

A disused dam in the French countryside has been transformed into an eye-catching work of art thanks to a new, colourful mural of giant proportions.

"The Shipwreck of Bienvenu" seen from afar.
“The Shipwreck of Bienvenu” seen from afar. Image by Ella & Pitr

Created by artistic duo Ella & Pitr, the piece is entitled, “The Shipwreck of Bienvenu” and is part of an ongoing series that has seen the pair painting sleeping giants in a number of different locations. With the assistance of a large crew, 2015 saw them creating the world’s largest outdoor mural in Norway for the Nuart Street Art Festival. The latest piece was painted on the 47m-high façade of Le Barrage du Piney dam, not far from the small village of La Valla en Gier near St-Étienne. The concrete of the dam sits in stark contrast to the greenery of the surrounding Pilat Regional Natural Park, and the piece can be reached either by hiking or by car.

The Shipwreck of Bienvenu mural being painted in France
The gigantic mural was painted with the use of ropes over a two-week period. Image by Ella & Pitr

The illustration shows a giant in a life jacket holding a picture of the landscape in his hand, with the backstory behind the character telling the tale of how he travelled in a boat to the location after looking at the image. A team of five people assisted in the ambitious project, working on ropes over a two-week period.

The painting was done on the 47-metre high façade of Le Barrage du Piney dam.
The painting was done on the 47-metre high façade of Le Barrage du Piney dam. Image by Ella & Pitr

“It’s always a big challenge to paint outdoors, because you feel responsible for the image you offer to all the people that will look at it. On this project, there was the challenge of the sheer height of the wall, but when you take time to organise and prepare, then lots of things are possible,” Ella & Pitr told Lonely Planet Travel News. The paint that was used for the process was a specific type designed for the environment, and the project was monitored by French water authorities.

2015 saw the pair creating the world's largest outdoor mural.
2015 saw the pair creating the world’s largest outdoor mural. Image by Ella & Pitr

Ella & Pitr have worked as a couple for the past ten years, beginning with pasting paper drawings directly onto walls and floors before moving on to large-scale paintings. Their recent work has seen them making use of drones to colour hard to rooftops and other hard to reach places.

More of their work is available at their official website.