If you think the Elf on a Shelf is difficult to keep tabs on throughout December, imagine wrangling and rearranging 50 giant teddy bears for three whole months. That’s exactly what a local Parisian bookshop owner named Phillipe has been doing since October.
At first, his plush project was a complete mystery. Residents of Les Gobelins neighborhood in the 13th arrondissement of Paris noticed the giant teddy bears popping up all over the area. They loved it and nicknamed them the “army of teddy bears.”
Phillipe has arranged the bears at metro stations and hairdressers, taking ballet lessons, gathering outside cafes and even inside cars. Sometimes they show up solo and other times they explore as a big group.
He also lends them out to people in the community. No matter who arranges them or how many there are, the bears are unmissable.
At just over four feet tall, they command attention and everyone has been all abuzz about the bears. They’ve even attracted the attention of the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who tweeted her support with a “Bravo et Merci!”
Depuis le mois d’octobre, le quartier des Gobelins compte de nouveaux habitants : une cinquantaine d’ours en peluche géants qui égayent le quartier, suscitent la curiosité, l’amusement et crée du lien entre les gens. Tout simplement. Bravo et Merci !
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) November 21, 2018
That’s not all: The bears have earned fans all over the world, too. In fact, they’ve inspired their own Facebook page, where anyone can check out their latest outings and appearances.
Le Parisien later reported that Phillipe embarked on the teddy bear experiment to bring the community together. It worked. In fact, Phillipe told Le Parisien that his neighbors now call him by name.
Incredibly, he’s fostered more connections with his local community in the last two months than during the previous 25 years he spent living and working there.
One bookseller’s adorable little project turned into a bear-y good idea — and now there are 50 more reasons to visit Paris over the holidays.