We always spend time in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont while we are in Paris. The hotel we stay at is only a couple of blocks away and the park is wonderful. We rounded a corner in September and encountered this whitewashed tree in the dell overlooked by one of the restaurants in the park. The paint job was incredibly neat and thorough. No natural tree colour showed through and there was no evidence of paint or whitewash on the lawn underneath. Extra-ordinary! There was no explanation of why the tree was painted. I presumed it was a temporary work of art and that the white would wash off, maybe in the next rain. But no -- the ghostly tree was still there on 14 December when we arrived back from Australia.
On our original visit I was equally fascinated by the reaction of some small boys passing in a school group. 'Oh look at that! Isn't it pretty? And what pretty flowers too!' I cannot imagine a group of c.8 year old Australian boys having quite the same reaction (or even noticing the flowers in the nearby garden bed -- although I'm sure the tree would have at least got some attention).
UPDATE: It's art and it's whitewash -- the full explanation here (in English and French) thanks to a link provided by Canadian blog reader The Beaver.