The Passe-Muraille, or “Passer through Walls” is an homage to a famous work of French literature by the same name which immortalizes the novel’s tragic finale wherein a man with the ability to phase through walls finds himself caught in mid-pass after a streak of roguish shenanigans.
Mounted on a stone wall and looking as if the brass man was caught mid-stride walking through a wall, the bronze sculpture was based on a character by Parisian writer Marcel Ayme. The character, M. Dutilleul, discovers he can walk through walls and brazenly uses this ability to commit crime and carry on an affair. On his last visit to his paramour, Dutilleul unexpectedly loses his power and becomes immobilized inside the wall.
The figures outstretched hand is smooth and reflective from the countless tourists and visitors who have pretended to try and pull the man out of wall. While not especially well-known outside of France, the novel is popular enough in its home country that the character remains immortalized in bronze as he attempts to make his escape, despite all the helping hands.
Know Before You Go
The Place Marcel Ayme is on rue Norvins and rue Girardon in Montmartre and in the shadow of Sacre-Coeur.