There are three holidays in France in May: Fête du Travail (May 1st, almost everything is closed); V-Day 1945 (May 8, most places remain open that are normally open on a Sunday); and Ascension (Thursday May 26th, most places remain open except government buildings).
Private Evening Visit of the Gaudí Exhibit at Musée D’Orsay – the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay (AMFO) are hosting a private after-hours visit of the new Gaudí exhibition, followed with a glass of Champagne. Free for members, €35 for non-members, register now for your spot!
Buy art for a good cause! The first edition of Solid’Art Paris takes place over four days in the Carreau du Temple (Marais), featuring 110 artists who are selling their works to benefit the Secours Populaire Français charity. The sponsor of this edition is the street artist known as JACE: “The objective is to collect as many donations as possible to finance the traditional “Forgotten Vacation Day” for children and their families in need. Great artists will join me to sell magnificent works and raise as many funds as possible to help many children smile again.” Free entry, open Thurs 6-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm. Check out the website for the catalog of artists participating.
The 14th annual “Tous à L’Opéra” opens both locations of the Opéra de Paris — Bastille and Palais Garnier — free to the public along with costume workshops, wig expositions, and other fun events. Register online for your free spot! https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/news/everyone-to-the-opera-2022
Today commemorates the end of WWII on May 8th, 1945, aka “Victory Day” throughout Europe. In Paris, two ceremonies are organized each year: the President of the Republic lays a wreath at the foot of the statue of General de Gaulle, Place Clemenceau (Champs-Elysées) then rekindles the flame of the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe, both broadast live on French TV 2 from 10am (and news websites like FranceInfo). Each arrondissement’s mayor will also lay a wreath or other memorial ceremony at a monument in their district.
Through May 8
Calling all street art fans! The Colors Festival brings together 65 French and international artists, painters, photographers, etc. from around the world to decorate 700m² of space in the 11th arrondissement, with four live painting sessions each weekend. Open daily, weekdays from 11am-7pm , until 9pm on Thursdays, and weekends 10am-6pm (last entry an hour before closure). Unlike most street art shows in Paris, this one charges an entrance fee: €15 for a timed-entry ticket (€8 for students and seniors over 62; €5 for kids under 13, free for kids under 3). You can buy on site, but if you want to make sure you get in the time you want, buy online: https://www.colorsfestival.paris/
Through May 9
The annual Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) is one of the biggest events of the year, occupying the entire Paris Expo Porte de Versailles (15th arr.) with hall after hall of food and wine, home and garden, fashion and accessories, travel and world cultures, arts and crafts, the famous Inventions Contest, and a ‘Makers Fair’. It’s chaos, it’s fascinating, and there’s always something interesting to learn (or buy, or eat). Just don’t go on the weekend unless you like being trampled! Buy your tickets in advance and avoid lines; entry €11 (€15 at the door).
The official Journée de l’Europe (Europe Day) is May 9th, but Paris will be celebrating will concerts, workshops, conferences and food trucks around Paris, including at the Parvis de L’Hôtel de Ville (4th), on Saturday the 7th. See the schedule of free events here.
One of the biggest flower shows in France, Journées des Plantes de Chantilly (formerly Courson), takes place this weekend at the Chateau de Chantilly, just 45 minutes north of Paris from the Gare du Nord. Entry €18 (or €16 if you get your tickets online before May 13).
Les Amarres is hosting a mini urban agriculture festival at their community center in the 13th (24 Quai d’Austerlitz), with local products made by urban gardeners in Paris (honey, potted herbs and plants, etc) and workshops from 2-6pm, vegetarian brunch made by Syrian refugees noon-3pm (reserve here), and karaoke singing at 8pm. Free entry, everyone welcome.
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 18th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until late (usually 11pm or midnight)…for free! Over 75 events in Paris alone. Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum. This year’s theme is “popular culture” (ie Star Wars). NOTE: Many of the museums REQUIRE you reserve a spot, even if it’s free. The Louvre is already fully booked, so do check your favorites and book ASAP.
Run My City Paris – A unique run through Paris, it may start off like any other “race” but there’s no time recording, just two routes (9k or 15k) that take runners to special museums, monuments and other Paris sights you may or may not know (yes, you stop your run to pop in for a visit). Sounds fun, right? Register in advance for the best rate, and let Heather know you’ll be there, too. 😉
The 16th annual Fête de la Nature is a five-day festival celebrating nature with a full program of 5000 free events in parks, gardens, nature preserves and forests all over the country, with 36 events in Paris alone.
Le Food Market is a monthly open-air food festival on Boulevard Belleville (between metro Ménilmontant and Couronnes) with over a dozen stands serving up tasty dishes of all kinds for less than €10 (kind of like a gathering of static food trucks, but without the wheels) from 6pm-10:30pm. This month Italian food is celebrated! It can get quite crowded, so get there early to avoid waiting (there are huge tables to sit and eat). Here’s the video (in French, but gives you an idea what to expect).
ChangeNOW Summit for the Planet – At the Grand Palais Ephémère, “The world’s largest gathering of solutions for the planet with 1000 solutions, 400 speakers from 120 countries, and 800 investors.” The featured guest speaker is the legendary Jane Goodall. All events will be in English and French. They’re also still looking for English-speaking volunteers (Heather is one of them!).
The 33rd annual Artists’ Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (centered on the 19th and 11th arrondissements). It’s a great chance to see some real Paris neighborhoods, meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! See a map of all the open studios, or visit the HQ at Galerie des AAB (1 rue Picabia, 19th, metro Couronnes). Free entry. Studios are open 2-8pm over the four days of the event.
This weekend is a free, open-air dance festival in the Parc de Choisy (13th), “TEMPSDANSE #6: Danse en Espace Public”. Hosted every year by the cooperative De Rue et De Cirque to bring dance to the public space. “Circus artists who cross disciplines, mix genres. Dancers and choreographers who like to perform outside, as close as possible to the public. And to make the party complete, all performances are free.” Check out the program on their website, and pack your picnic for the Parc de Choisy lawn! 🙂
This weekend is also the Porte Ouvertes at Les Frigos (rue des Frigos, 13th), with the workshops of 120 artists, creators and entrepreneurs open to the public Saturday 2-10pm and Sunday 2-8pm. There are a lot of staircases in this colorfully decorated 1920s cold storage facility that became an artists’ squat in the 80s (legalized in the 90s). Worth a visit especially if you have never been to this corner of the 13th!
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL THE FALL
Acclaimed American concert flutist and the artistic director of Mistral Music, Julie Scolnik, is at Reid Hall at 7pm to present her heartfelt memoir, Paris Blue: A Memoir of First Love, set in 1970s Paris. She’ll be joined by Parisian pianist Aurelien Pontier for a short musical program of works for flute and piano, followed by a talk about Paris Blue, short readings, questions, and signing. The event is free, but please register online here.
The annual Journée Nationale de la Résistance commemorates the first meeting of the French Resistance in Paris on May 27, 1943, under the leadership of Jean Moulin. There will be events throughout Paris, including the relighting of the memorial flame at the ARc de Triomphe at 6:30pm, a “village des associations” in the Parc de Choisy (13th, M° Olympiads or Place d’Italie) from 10:30am until 7:30pm, and a ceremony at 48 rue du Four in the 6th arrondissement (first Resistance headquarters) at 4pm.
Paris City Pop is a pop illustration fair centered around the French culture of this medium: modern and dynamic, many artists are very successful online but do not have a fair dedicated to them. After two successful editions, Paris City Pop returns for a third time at Digital Village (just off the Place d’Italie, 13th arrondissement). There will be 40 artists exhibited on the first floor, conferences on the rooftop, and an art market and tattoo area on the ground floor (next to the café). The Digital Village is a contemporary co-working space, digital community center, and student housing center with events and café open to the general public.
Through June 6
From noon to midnight every day is the Foire du Trone, an open air fair with rides, food and perfect for a family outing. Open from noon until 11pm, Fri-Sat until 1am. Free entry, rides work with tickets. On the Pelouse de Reuilly, 92 boulevard Poniatowski, 75012 Paris (near Bois de Vincennes).
Through June 25
The one-woman stand-up comedy show in English “Oh my God, she’s Parisian” starring Julie Collas is back at the Théâtre Bo St Martin (19 blvd St Martin, 3rd) every Saturday night at 7:30pm through the end of June. For more info and tickets: https://www.julie-collas.com/
Through July 17th
Learn about the history of the construction, evolution, and burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in a free augmented reality exhibit in the nave of the historic Collège des Bernadins, a 13th-century monastery-turned-cultural-center just across the river from the Cathedral in the Latin Quarter. The exhibit is in multiple languages using a “histopad” tablet, although the website where you sign up for your spot is only in French (click the purple “Reserver” button and create an account to get a free ticket). Open Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am-6pm, and Thurs and Sun (and April 16-18) from 2-6pm. Closed April 15th and May 1st. On 20 Rue de Poissy, 5th.
Through June 16th
To celebrate the centenary anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses by Sylvia Beach, owner of the original Shakespeare & Co Bookstore in Paris, an ensemble of international stars are recording the complete text to be released as a free podcast between February 2nd and Bloomsday on June 16th by Shakespeare & Co, listen here.
Planning Ahead – Book it Now!
Rock-en-Seine Festival – August 25-30th at the Domaine de Saint-Cloud, headliners include Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Stromae, and Rage Against the Machine.
Paris Sketchbook Workshop – September 27-October 2 in Paris, with five world-famous sketchbook artists.