The colorful storefront shops in Paris offer a fascinating way to see the city

In a metropolis teeming with awe-inspiring façades—the Grand Palais, the Louvre, and Les Invalides, not to mention towering monuments like the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower—a visitor’s powers of observation are, understandably, quickly diluted. It can be easy to miss the quieter jewel-box treasures at street level, however abundant they may be. So, the German photographer Sebastian Erras began a pilgrimage to capture the living, breathing City of Light.

Having built a reputation for his winning architectural photographs—namely of colorful tiled floors in Europe’s cultural capitals—Erras has most recently turned his camera on Paris’s rainbow-hued storefronts. The project, dubbed “Paris Re-tale,” a collaboration with PixartPrinting, aims to spotlight both the city’s shopkeepers and the charming characteristics of their businesses—beautifully hand-painted signage, intricate tilework, arched thresholds, inviting interior lighting schemes.

Stories of the various proprietors, alongside a map pinpointing their locations, are also told. There’s Boris Lumé, whose century-old bakery in Montmarte, Patisserie Boulangerie Boris, is known for its heavenly petit choux (Meryl Streep apparently stopped in for a taste while filming Julie & Julia) and is listed as a French historical monument, thanks to the artwork on its façade. And there’s La Galcante, a shop near the Louvre, overseen by Jacques Kuzma, whose sole trade is collecting and selling clips from some 8 million printed materials—of which only about 10 percent are housed on site—from the 1700s until the present day. Want a Le Figaro from your birth date? Monsieur Kuzma is your guy.

“The idea for the project was not only to showcase some of these beautiful and old storefronts in Paris but also to dig a bit deeper and go beyond the image and tell the story,” Erras says. “Locals and tourists walk by these shops regularly, and some even stop to take a picture of them, but rarely do we get the chance to hear more about the history of the shop and its owner. That is what I was trying to change.”