Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Something for the holidays

Although I will be one of the hundreds of thousands of Parisians to leave the city over the holiday period, for others the holidays will be an opportunity to visit the city. Luckily for them, there are plenty of special events organised, many of which are aimed specifically at the international visitor.

If you are in Paris on Christmas or New Year's Day, you will note that the city doesn't stop like certain other cities (London..). It is possible to take a Metro, go to restaurants, the cinema or the theatre and even visit the Eiffel tower. However, most of the large museums are closed on both days.

Musée des Arts Forains
For what is now becoming a tradition, the fascinating - and fairly secret - musée des arts forains - will be exceptionally open to the public over the holidays. Inside you'll find a collection of 19th century fairground equipment, most of which you can actually play with and ride on.

Until Jan 2nd 53 Avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012, M° Bercy

Over the holiday period, the giant 104 arts centre in the North East of Paris is running a special magic festival. Alongside the large-scale shows of illusionists and magicians, you'll also find smaller installations that can be explored at any time of the day.

Full information on the festival and access to the centre can be found here:

Ice Skating (and other winter sports)
More and more ice rinks seem to be popping up around Paris over the winter period, although the main installation is still the rink situated in front of the Hotel de Ville. You'll find others on the Champs Elysées, at the Trocadero, at Montparnasse and even on the Eiffel Tower (see full list here (in French, but with clear indications on addresses, dates, times and prices)

Note also that
the Stade Charlety in the south of the city will be once again organising free 'winter sports' activities for the under 16s (

Keeping children amused
The Jardin des Plantes could be the place to head if you're looking for activities to keep children happy. The exhibition 'Au fil des araignées', shining a light on the hidden world of spiders, is in both English and French. On top of the interactive features that will delight creepy-crawly fans, there are also a series of special events being organised over the holiday period.

The Jardin is also home to the city's zoo, and several other museums and galleries, many of which are organising events currently. Full details can be found here:

Show Time
Each year, the Theatre de Chatelet produces a Broadway musical over the holiday period, which is generally performed in English. This year the show is kitsch classic 'The Sound of Music', which could offer the opportunity for the casual visitor to spend an evening in one of the city's most impressive theatres. More information here:

If you are in the city with children over the holiday period, you may also be interested to know that Dr Seuss's 'The Cat in the Hat' is being performed (in English and French it says, although I'm not too sure exactly how this works in the show) at the Theatre de la Ville in Montmartre.

Two exhibitions in the city offer the opportunity for family fun over the holiday period. The Grand Palais is marking the 40th birthday of video games (Pong first appeared in 1972) with an exhibition called Game Story.
Although the French like to focus on the wider aesthetic and cultural history of the industry, expect also to be able to play the games (if the crowds are not too large). See the official site for more details.

Also at the Grand Palais, 'Of Toys and Men' presents the history of toys in the Western world with over a thousand toys from ancient times to the present day. More information here.

Although much of Paris remains open over the holiday period, it can sometimes be tricky to find a restaurant, and it should be noted that most that are open offer special menus at very high prices on the principal holiday dates.

This list on the Paris by Mouth website provides a complete list of what will be open when in the city.

For those planning to be in Paris to see in the new year, note that the Champs Elysées is very crowded, and not a particularly pleasant to be on that evening (on most evenings in truth...), and that there will be no official firework displays in the city. If you're looking for a venue therefore to party on that particular evening, you'll find a full list here:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Something for the weekend (16th - 18th December)

The last full weekend in December, and the first weekend of the holidays in France. Shopping is still on everyone's minds, but the party season is now in full swing too!


Noel vintage
Vintage Christmas for brings to mind the songs of Phil Spector, but I'm not sure that that's what you'll get this weekend at the Bellevilleoise. What you will find is 50s and 60s style clothes, furniture, discs and jewellery, as well as concerts and performances by the Filles de Joie burlesque group.

More information can be found here.

Christmas market at la Rotonde
The Rotonde, one of the last remaining of Ledoux's 18th century tax collection offices in Paris, is fast becoming one of the most interesting spaces in the city. Recently renovated, it now hosts a smart restaurant and bar, with upstairs spaces that are being used for a number of different cultural events.

This weekend,
the Mampreneurs (an organisation of entrepreneurs who are also mothers!) are organising a Christmas market. Expect a mix of clothes, decorations, food and gifts, as well as massages and activities for kids.

More information, including dates, times and addresses, can be found here.

Noel en Auteuil
The chic quartier of Auteuil is also organising a Christmas market this weekend, but all for a good cause. Alongside the usual foods, gifts and clothing, there will also be a brocante and a series of concerts.


Les createurs ont du coeur
Twice a year, ARCAT, an organisation that works with HIV infected people, organises a weekend of sales of designer creations at exceptional prices. In the run up to Christmas, this weekend's event at the Bastille Design Centre could be the chance to find some bargains and support a good cause.

Full details here:


The Invention of the Savage

Earlier this year I organised a trip to the Jardin Tropical de Paris, site of one of the 'human zoos' organised in France and around Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. Certain traces of the 1907 colonial exhibition remain visible there, but the exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly looks beyond these specific events to tell the stories of the people who were exploited at them.

Through a wide range of exhibits, including film, photos, sculptures, postcards, posters and costumes, the visitor will get an insight into the scope of the phenomenon and the reasons behind its popularity as well as who the people were who were involved, and questions whether certain traces of the industry remain in existence today.

Musée du quai Branly
206-218 rue de l'Université, 75007
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday : 11am - 7pm - Thursday, Friday, Saturday : 11am - 9pm


Bitter Sweet Xmas Party
For those interested in discovering French indie rock, this Friday will give you the ideal opportunity. Not only will you get to discover 10 bands on stage, but also food, drink, DJ sets and a few stands selling 'friandises sonores'! And all that for just €5.

La Fleche d'Or
Friday 16th, from 6pm
Click here for full information on the event.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Something for the Weekend (December 9th - 11th)

Another weekend in December, another mix of shopping and culture!


In the run up to Christmas, several special markets and salons are being organised each week. Here's a little selection of this weekend's events:

  • Salon Art Terrible: contemporary art fair held in the Espace Commines, a converted 19th century industrial warehouse.

  • Hotel Boheme: an 'ethical' craft fair, featuring the creations of around 50 Paris-based artists and creators. Situated just alongside the Grand Rex cinema in the 2nd arrondissement.

  • Noel en Bio: organic food and drink producers will be selling their goods on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Espace des Blancs-Manteaux in the Marais.

Sempé un peu de Paris et d’ailleurs
If you're shopping in the centre of Paris, make sure you pop in to the - free - exhibition at the Hotel de Ville celebrating the work of French cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé. Many of his humerous drawings feature Paris, but the 'elsewhere' is not forgotten, with scenes set across the world.

Until February 11th
Hotel de Ville
Every day except Sunday, 10am - 7pm

Little Paradis
For a perfect combination of shopping and culture, head out to the up-and-coming 'Rue de Paradis' district in the 10th for a weekend of visits and special events.Art, design and fashion will be featured in shops, galleries and workshops in the area throughout the weekend.

Full details here:

The Art of Maths
The Fondation Cartier hosts some of the most interesting exhibitions in Paris, often on specific - and unusual - themes. The centre is currently celebrating the power of mathematics to unravel and measure the world, with creations from an eclectic selection of artists including David Lynch and Raymond Depardon. Entitled 'Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere', the exhibition was curated by a prestigious team of scientists and mathematicians, who worked with the artists to explore the themes.

Until 18th March
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
Bd Raspail, 75014, M°Raspail
Click here for full information about the exhibition.

Take a Break from Paris

The Fête des Lumières in Lyon

Lyon may be France's second city, but for much of the year it is a curiously discreet place. This all changes in the run up to Christmas with its world-famous light and sound spectacles held across the city over a weekend.

Full details here:

This year you can combine a visit to the event with a visit to the Biennale de Lyon, a gathering of over 70 artists from around the world who are exhibiting their creations at four different venues across the city.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Something for the Weekend (December 2nd - 4th)

Now it's December, the Christmas period can officially begin (I refuse to promote any 'seasonal' events before that date!). However, there are also plenty of other interesting (and non-commercial) things taking place. Here's my selection...


Free museums
It's the first Sunday of the month, so a number of national and municipal museums will be offering free entry. You can find a full list of these museums here.

On Ice
The first Friday of the month during winter months is synonymous with the Born Bad organised ice skating evenings at the Patinoire Pailleron! This month sees a live set (in the middle of the ice rink) from Judo, with DJ sets from Bertrand Burgalat and Christophe Lemaire. Entrance is €10 which includes the rental of the skates. There is also a bar at the venue, but it's strictly alcohol-free...which is probably a good thing!

Full information here

Sept Fois Plus à l'Ouest
A curiosity at the always interesting Espace Fondation EDF, but one that is definitely worth investigating. Artist Yann Kersalé creates mainly light installations in 'dark' places, and this exhibition is a recreation of seven of his works that were on display in Brittany this summer. The gallery is plunged into darkness, leaving the visitors to explore the creations and 'imagine' (with the help of the sounds of the wind, burning fires, crashing waves...) them in their natural environment.

Full information here

A 'real' Christmas market
Ok, there's always the lights on the Champs Elysées (and the rather tawdry market that accompanies it), or the shop windows of the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette stores and the large crowds around them, but there are also 130 other places in the capital which will be illuminated (a personal favourite of mine is the area around the Jourdain Metro).

There are also several Christmas markets, but according to those in the know, only one 'authentic' one - the marché de la Gare de l'Est. Spiritual home to the Alsacians in Paris, it's the best place to find traditional food and wine from their region. If you're around on December 6th (Saint Nicolas day), you'll also find a 4.5m high gingerbread man, and be able to listen to traditional stories from Alsace at his feet!

Shopping ideas
Christmas shopping is always stressful, so its best to find somewhere that also offers a place to relax and a little culture. Two events this weekend might fit the bill:

  • Le Marché de Noel au Point Ephémere: Young creators, cupcake classes for kids, hairdressers offering 'rock' hairstyling, live music...and all that in an interesting spot alongside the Canal Saint Martin.

  • Take Me Out: 'Shopping, Music & Art' it says on the website. Add drinks and a tapas bar, and you have the recipe for a relaxing event far from the madding crowds.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Something for the Weekend (November 25th - 27th)

A weekend ethical, artistic, sexy and down to earth here in Paris! Enjoy...


Black Friday
Black Friday is now not just about finding bargains at the nearest shopping centre, but also a chance to support your local independant record retailer. See here for more details on what's happening in Paris for this event.

Festival Pigalle

Without doubt the biggest and most interesting event of the weekend, the Festival Pigalle aims to recapture the spirit of this district before it is completely asepticised. Events are being organised in all corners of Pigalle, including some of the seediest, with the goal of bringing together the two images of the place - the arty and the sexy.

Of particular interest will be the nocturnal walks organised by Sylvanie de Lutèce which include a look at the history of the area and three stops for exclusive artistic happenings (in private apartments, hotel rooms, cabarets...). These walks may well be sold out by now, but if you do miss out, you can always attend Sylvanie's monthly history evening at the Baron Samedi bar on Monday evening (this month's theme - le Paris ésotérique).

More information here:

Bonobo and Friends
If you're in Pigalle on Friday evening, prolong the evening with English DJ Bonobo's first residence in a Paris club. The line up at the La Machine du Moulin Rouge is worthy of the very best festivals.

Full information on tickets here:

Le salon des vins des Vignerons Indépendants
If you're looking to stock up on wine before the Christmas holidays, this is the ideal opportunity. Featuring hundreds of the leading independant wine producers in France, you'll be sure to find something to your taste (and budget!).

Entry is only 6 Euros, including a special glass to take around with you for the tastings, but you can also try this link for a free invitation to the event.

Porte de Versailles
November 24th - 28th

Open day events at artists' studios are common events in Paris, but they are generally limited to the more 'bohemian' districts of the city. This weekend though, the very bourgeois 16th arrondissement will attempt to show that it too has a thriving artistic community.

Full information here:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sponsored post: Top 5 tips for moving to France

Most people visit France just for weekends or on holiday, but almost all of these visitors dream of one day moving to the country. Such moves are never simple, but if you are thinking of making the step, here are a few tips to help you make the move.

1) Sending Your Child To School - If you plan to enrol your child at a school in your commune, initial enquiries should be made at your mairie (town hall), where you will be advised on who to contact and how to complete the various formalities. Children should be enrolled before June to start school in September. Home-schooling is legal, but you must speak to the mairie if you intend to take this route. France also has private schools and some international schools.

2) Finding Work - If your life in France is dependent upon finding employment, the wisest approach is to land the job before making the move. France’s high unemployment inevitably means keen competition for jobs, so patience is a virtue and good language skills are desirable. Although you must be prepared to go to France if offered an entretien d’embauche (job interview), viewing vacancies and submitting applications can all be done online, either via the government job search site or through private agencies. You can also send speculative applications to potential employers.

3) 14th July - Without question, France’s biggest national extravaganza is what the British often call Bastille Day, but the French refer to as ‘le quatorze juillet’. Festivities start on the evening of 13th, with truly spectacular firework displays all over France and partying that is likely to continue all night and into the next day. The 14th is a national holiday, when even shops that opened on Christmas Day will almost certainly be closed. Many towns arrange fêtes, parades and all manner of street entertainments, sometimes a whole week of events. If you’re in France at this time, it’s well worth finding out what’s happening near you and going along. France’s 14th July celebrations are not to be missed.

4) Eligibility for Healthcare - If you don’t intend to work or run a business in France, and are not a dependant of someone who is in the French system, you will probably need a form S1 to entitle you, initially at least, to state healthcare. You should apply for an S1 well in advance of leaving the UK. If you’re retired, contact the DWP Overseas Healthcare Team (0191 218 1999); if you’re going to continue working in the UK, contact HMRC.

5) Healthcare – Carte Vitale - This card contains a microchip which confirms your identity and social security number. When you pay for consultations, treatment or prescriptions, you will be asked for your CV. Your reimbursements will then be refunded automatically into your bank account. If you don’t have a carte vitale, or the health provider doesn’t have a card reader, you’ll be given a document called a feuille de soins. This must be presented to your caisse d’assurance, along with proof of entitlement, to claim reimbursement.

This post was written by Schepens Removals, who are one of the leading removals firms in the UK, and who specialise in removals to France.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Black Friday in Paris

Record Store Day, a worldwide initiative aiming to help keep small independant music retailers alive, now has a winter spin-off called Black Friday, which is being held this Friday (25th November).

The name obviously refers to the now notorious Black Friday shopping frenzy (the day after Thanksgiving in the US), but rather than going to the mall for some bargains, this time you're being encouraged to support your local record store and pick up some exclusive music in time for Christmas.

Although essentially an American event, you will still be able to take part in Paris by going to the Fargo shop on the Rue de la Folie Méricourt in the 11th arrondissement. Fargo is also a record label in France concentrating on Americana styles, and they'll have a stack of limited and special edition vinyls and CDs that you won't be able to find anywhere else. Ideal if you have a music fan in the family!

42, rue de la Folie Méricourt Paris 11ème (M° Oberkampf or St Ambroise)
Friday 25th, 11am to 8pm

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Something for the Weekend (November 18th - 20th )

There are 38 days left until Christmas - which means there's still plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing weekend in Paris! Here are a few suggestions.


Nuits Capitales
Paris is celebrating the fact that its nightlife is still alive with a week-long festival of concerts and clubbing, often in places that are more than off the beaten track. You can find more information on the main event here, but here are a couple of my suggestions for the weekend:

  • Soiree bus: for those with a pass for the Nuits Capitales festival, make sure you get on the 'Soirée bus' - a kind of mobile nightclub - that will be doing the tour of the principal sites on Friday and Saturday night.

  • Petites balades sonores: A festival 'des nuits' need not only concern the night-time. Event organisers Les Boutiques Sonores have lined up for the weekend a series of concerts in a variety of unusual places (flower shops, galleries, tea shops..) from early afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

Portes Ouvertes in Montmartre
Around studios will be opening their doors this weekend between Anvers and Abesses on the Montmartre hill. As usual, go for the opportunity it gives to explore behind normally closed doors into unseen courtyards, and hope to find something interesting in the studios.

More information here:

The organisation may have a ridiculous name, but its goal - to make good food more accessible - and its always original events always seduce. To celebrate the latest edition of their guide and the recent Fooding award winners, this weekend two boats will sail up and down the Seine, serving dishes designed by some of the leading chefs of the moment - with all proceeds going to charity.

Full information on tickets and access here:

An undercover brocante
Wandering around a brocante is always an interesting experience - unless it rains! You can be sure to avoid this problem by taking a tour round the covered event in the Passage des Panoramas this Sunday.

Passage des Panoramas, 75002, M° Grands Boulevards
Sunday November 20th

Take a Break from Paris

The Beaune Wine Auction

The third week of November is associated with Beaujolais Nouveau, but it need not just mean poor quality wine! Celebrating its 151st edition, the Beaune Wine Auctions brings wine connaisseurs from around the world to this attractive Burgundy town, but even if you can't afford to bid, there are many other events and activities organised, and tasting is always free!

More details:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's party week in Paris - but don't wake the neighbours!

This week sees the second edition of the Nuits Capitales festival, an event that was set up last year to counter the reports stating that nightlife in Paris was dead.

Over 200 events are promised, the largest of all being the launch party that took place at the 104 centre on Monday evening.

A slightly bizarre feature of the event is the fact that several of the concerts take place during the day, suggesting that the event is less about getting people to stay up all night and more about getting them outside in the first place, to discover new venues and artists.

As the official website says, "You should consider Les Nuits Capitales as an invitation to stroll and discover artists, but also - and perhaps primarily - as a journey off the beaten tracks of the city, to discover the many places (music bars, cafés-concerts, concert halls and clubs) which are, after dark, the cultural heart of Paris".

The event HQ has been set up for the week in the Gaîté Lyrique, and this is probably the best place to go both to get an idea of what is on and to profit from the special offers that you will be able to find here (free tickets and drinks, reductions...). This being France, it will also be the site for a series of debates and conferences on the theme of nocturnal life in the capital, from both a political and economic perspective.

For more information, see

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Something for the Weekend (November 11th - 13th)

Another long weekend in Paris as Friday is a public holiday. Here are a few suggestions to help you fill that extra day!


Paris Photo
For reasons unknown to me, November is traditionally photography month in Paris. Although the 'mois de la photo' is only held every two years in even years, the odd years are equally full with events. The largest of these - Paris Photo at the Grand Palais - is the centrepiece, but as with the recent FIAC fair, prices are very steep (€25 for this event), so for those with limited funds, some of the off events may be of greater interest.

More information on the main event can be found here:

The off events:

  • The nofound photo fair: Possibly the most interesting simply because its being held in a disused garage! (Garage Turenne, 66 rue de Turenne, 75003).

  • Photo Off: Held at the Bellevilloise, and described only as the 'young and upcoming photographers art fair'.

  • Fotover: At the Espace Pierre Cardin, a more chic fair, but one that still brands itself as 'affordable'.

  • Revelation Photo: The only 'free' fair, this event at the Comptoir général by the Canal Saint Martin concentrates on the foto povera genre.

Sol En Si pop-up shop
With only around 40 days left until Christmas, now is the time to do your shopping! If you have to buy any presents for children, make sure you take the opportunity to visit the Sol En Si pop-up shop. Leading brands have donated stock for sale with all proceeds going to the Sol En Si charity which helps HIV infected children, so not only do you find bargains, but you'll also be doing a good deed too. Last year there was a selection of very good deals on clothes, shoes and games - with prices even being slashed on any remaining stock on the Sunday afternoon!

La Cartonnerie
12 rue Deguerry - 75011 (M° Goncourt, Parmentier)
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th, 11am - 8pm, Sunday 13th, 11am - 4pm
Entrance : €2 for adults, free for children (activities available at €3)

Elle coud, elle court la grisette
Continuing the 19th century Paris theme from last week, this exhibition, at the Maison Balzac until January 15th, 2012, takes a look at one of Paris's historical cultural icons, la grisette. For more information, click on the link below to read my interview with one of the exhibition organisers.

Elle coud, elle court, la grisette
Maison de Balzac
47, rue Raynouard 75016
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 6pm, except public holidays
Entrance: €3 - €6

Game Story
In honour of the 40th birthday of video games (Pong first appeared in 1972), the prestigious Grand Palais is marking the event with an exhibition. This being France though, it is not enough to celebrate the skills of the game designers and the amusement they provide, the games also have to justify their cultural position alongside other 'art forms'. Expect then to be able to play the games (if the crowds are not too large), but expect also promotion of French games ("a leader in this field") and a wider aesthetic and cultural history of the industry.

See the official site for more details.
Grand Palais
Until 9 January 2012

Take a Break from Paris

Le Musée de la Grande Guerre

Opening for the first time on the entirely appropriate date of the 11th November, this new museum explores the history and legacy of the first world war. Being situated in Meaux, it is also in a location that was near the heart of the conflict.

The architecture, designed by Christophe Lab, is also worth a visit itself. On top of the two floors of exhibition space is a rooftop garden that offers a 360° perspective over the surrounding countryside, a landscape that was scarred during the terrible conflict of nearly 100 years ago.

More details:

Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux
Hôtel de Ville
77107 Meaux

(Note: Meaux is accessible by train from the Gare de l'Est in 30 minutes, but you'll need another 10 minutes on the M6 bus to get to the museum).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Something for the Weekend (November 4th - 6th)

A wet weekend is predicted for Paris. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions to get you outside anyway.


Free museums
It's the first Sunday of the month, so a number of national and municipal museums will be offering free entry. You can find a full list of these museums here.

Cinema for the ears
The Goûter d'ecoute Arte Radio offers a series of short aural documentaries and soundscapes in a cosy environment (cushions, low lights...) on Sunday afternoon - including a goûter! The creators of the documentaries will also be present to discuss their creations.

Point ephémère
Quai de Valmy, 75010

Sunday 6th, 5-6pm

19th Century Paris
Two recent exhibition launches aim to show various social and industrial aspects of life in Paris in the 19th century. Click on the titles below for more in depth information on these exhibitions:

Le Peuple de Paris
Musée Carnavalet
23, rue de Sévigné 75003
Open daily, from 10am - 6pm, except Mondays and public holidays.
Tickets - from €3,5 - €7

Gaz à tous les étages

Bibliothèque Forney
1 rue du Figuier 75004
Entrance €3-€6
Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm - 7pm
Guided visits on Saturday at 3pm (included in the ticket price)

Vive la Soupe!
A group of soup fanatics linked together through the Vive la Soupe Facebook group is organising Paris's first soup festival. For €5, you get a special taster bowl that will enable you to taste all of the soups in competition for the festival!

Amoureusement Soupe
Place des Abbesses, 75018
Saturday 5th, 9am - 6pm

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something for the Weekend (October 28th - 30th)

A long weekend in Paris as the 1st of November is a public holiday so many people take the opportunity to 'faire le pont' - myself included - so apologies for a slightly shorter list this week. If you have any suggestions of your own, please add them to the comments below.


Feeling Gloomy
Clubbing is normally about thumping basslines and BPMs, but not for the Feeling Gloomy team. Launched six years ago in London, and since exported to Berlin and New York, Feeling Gloomy is the art of being happy whilst listening to sad songs (The Cure, Nick Cave, Pulp...). The experience promises to be different, especially as it is being held at the Petit Bain, the most recent addition to the Paris waterfront scene.

Friday 28th, 10.30pm - 4am
Le Petit Bain

We Love 1024 Boom-box
Another 'club' night out with a twist. Although the music may be more standard, the differentiator here is the stage architecure, which is basically scafolding designed to look like a boom box.

Saturday 29th
Grande Halle de la Villette: A quick look at what to expect here:

Festival International de la Photographie Culinaire
Food photography has become an artform of its own, and one deserving of a festival. This year's theme is 'street food', and over 100 photos - displayed in several different parts of the city (Bercy Village, Espace Mobalpa, La Coupole..) - are competing for several prestigious prizes, one of which you can help to choose.

Until November 13th
Full details here:

See a selection of the photos in competition here:

Tmode et Salon du Vintage

Two of the leading fashion fairs have joined forces this year for a large-scale event at the finally being used Cité de la mode et design. 200 stands over 4000m² will feature clothes, furniture and objects, with a 1950s theme.

29th and 30th October, 10am to 7pm
Cité de la Mode et du Design, 32, quai d'Austerlitz, 75013
Full details here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Something for the Weekend (October 21st - 23rd)

A weekend of fairs and shows, but if you really want to get away from the crowds, why not get out and visit a farm? Details on all below.


The FIAC and other art fairs
I've already mentioned the FIAC international art fair and its little cousin the Chic Art Fair, but there are several other similar events also being organised this weekend:
  • Art Elysées: Returning for its fifth edition, Art Elysées features a selection of modern and contemporary art in a large tent alongside the Champs Elysées. Entrance is a rather pricey €15.
  • Slick: One ahead of Art Elysées, Slick is celebrating this year its 6th edition! Around 50 galleries have been invited to show off their creations, again in a marquée tent, this time in front of the Palais de Tokyo and Museé d'art moderne de la ville de Paris. Entrance for this show - which always aims to be a little edgier than the others - is a slightly cheaper €10.
  • Pearls of the North: My personal recommendation. Pearls of the North presents the works of a selection of artists from Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, but above all it is situated inside Auguste Perret's wonderful Palais d'Iena (normally closed to the public), and - something very rare during the FIAC week - entrance is free!

Le Salon du chocolat
Paris and chocolate go together like...well, chocolate and nuts...or chocolate and coffee...or chocolate and orange...Let your imagination run free - you'll find it all at this enormous fair dedicated to the foodstuff, but just don't expect too many freebies!

More information can be found here:

Paris Noir
Paris is of course also closely linked to the world of the 'film noir' or 'roman noir', so a festival dedicated just to this subject is a welcome addition to the city's cultural offer. Now in its second year, this festival - which has Italy as its focus this time around - includes book signings, film showings, guided walking tours (in the steps of Maigret...) and even recreations of crime scenes!

The full programme can be found here:


Basing itself on festivals such as The Great Escape in the UK, and SXSW in the USA, MaMA attempts to bring together professionals from the music industry and up and coming French artists - as well as the listening public! The interest for the average Paris visitor or resident is that a whole host of shows - often free - are being organised across the 18th arrondissement.

Full details on the festival here:

BB Mix
Another music festival, this time being held in Boulogne Billancourt to the west of Paris, but one that always has a genuinely interesting line up. This year, you'll see such rarities as the mythical kraut rock pioneer Silver Apples, and the return of a flashback to my younger days - The Monochrome Set.

Full details on the event can be found here:

Take a Break from Paris

Visit a farm!

This week is the 'semaine du goût' in France (taste/tasting week?) which aims to get everyone eating good, natural farm produced food. In honour of this event, over 100 farms in the Paris region will be opening their gates on Saturday and Sunday to curious city dwellers who want to see where there food comes from. It's a great occasion to get outside and explore the countryside, but don't expect to be petting animals and cuddling little wooly lambs. This is more about how the farmers go about producing juicy chops and steaks!

Having said that, if you have more vegetarian inclinations, you can just visit fruit and vegetable producers.

More details:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FIAC 2011: The art of making money

Security is tight this week in Paris for the Milipol internal state security business fair at the Porte de Versailles, but it is likely to be even tighter still for the annual FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) event at the Grand Palais this weekend.

The event attracts a large portion of the world’s most prestigious private art galleries who come to display their offerings to curious visitors and - more importantly - potential clients. Make no mistake here, people are in town to do business, and art is the commodity.

In theory, the event is open to anyone, but with entrance fees set at €32 (or €55 with the catalogue!), there is a certain whiff of exclusivity. In its prestigious setting, it is a show in itself, perhaps a little like going to the Opéra, but it is unlikely to bring the world of contemporary art to the masses.

Perhaps this though is being a little unfair. The FIAC is not just one event, but also a series of smaller off events in a variety of locations around the city, with - for example - art installations in both the Jardin des Tuilleries and the Jardin des Plantes. It has also inspired a series of spin-offs and copies that attempt to profit from the presence in the city of the world's leading collectors, many of which are far more accessible to the less wealthy.

One of these events is the Chic Art Fair, being held this year further down the Seine in the Cité de la Mode et du Design, on the Quai D’Austerlitz. With entrance prices being a more reasonable 10 Euros, it could be a more democratic option. For those wishing to visit both events though, a BatoChic boat will also be running between the two sites over the weekend.

The Chic Art Fair also brings together a number of galleries seeking clients for the creations they have on display, but it may offer the opportunity to discover up and coming artists and make more affordable purchases. In an attempt to gain an edge over the FIAC, it also includes sections dedicated to photography (including the wonderful Les Douches La Galerie) and street art.

What remains to be seen now is whether Paris remains a AAA location for the modern art market.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something for the Weekend (14th - 16th October)

A quieter weekend this time around in Paris, but still with plenty of activities to get you out and exploring. And if you're fed up with the city, why not get out to Reims for the weekend - there's a good reason to do so!


Bastille Quatier Libre
After a successful first outing, this festival, celebrating the independent spirit of the Bastille district, is back for another edition. It aims to bring together artists and shopkeepers (no chainstores allowed), who present a series of happenings in various spots around the area. A few larger events are organised, but perhaps the most interesting thing to do is just to wander from place to place, eating up the atmosphere.

For more details on the events being organised, see the official website:

La Fête de la Science
Celebrating its 20th edition, this fête attempts to bring science into the spotlight. The large institutions, such as the Cité des Sciences, will be offering free entry this weekend, but I always think that the principal interest of these events is to explore places to which you would never normally have access. Of course, it also helps if you have an inner nerd waiting to get out.

Several things have caught my eye for this weekend:

See a full list of events planned in Paris here.

Chacu'un trouve son chat
Street art loves a cat, possibly because the animal reflects the artists’ spirit of nocturnal exploration. This exhibition brings together some leading names – including of course M. Chat – who are presenting their cat-based creations at the Cabinet d'amateur gallery until November 13th.

Until November 13th
Le cabinet d'amateur
12 rue de la Forge Royale
75011 Paris

Paint BAL
Does street art also love letterboxes? Find out at this interesting exhibition, held of course at the Musée de la Poste, where a number of decorated examples will be on display ahead of a charity auction in 2012. The creations – painted by artists including
L'Atlas and Speedo Graphito, will be sold off in aid of the restoration of a Keith Haring mural at the Hopital Necker, today in rather a poor state.

Until March 1st, 2012
L'Adresse Musée de La Poste
34 boulevard de Vaugirard 75015 Paris

Open Days - Montmartre aux Artistes

With its 184 studios, Montmartre aux Artistes is the biggest artists' estate in Europe. This year the site is organising its annual open day, giving exceptional access to the studios of artists working in a very wide range of disciplines, from painting to architecture.

Full details on the event can be found here:

Take a Break from Paris


Thanks to the recent introduction of a high-speed TGV line, Reims - capital of the Champagne region - is only 45 minutes from Paris. If you have never been, it is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year, and not just to sample its local speciality. The other jewel in this city is its magnificent cathedral, which is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. To mark this anniversary, a spectacular light show is projected onto the building twice each evening at weekends, but hurry - the event ends on October 23rd!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

App review: Do you Unlike Paris?

I was contacted recently by the Unlike city guides team who informed me that they were about to release a series of videos by various Paris movers and shakers, presenting their favourite parts of the city, to accompany their standard Paris guide. It sounded interesting so I thought I’d take a closer look.

The application (and associated website) are nicely designed and easy to use. Most of the chosen spots, covering the standard food, bar, hotel, shop and culture sectors, are well described and clearly presented, but I’m not entirely sure what this guide is supposed to be unlike.

I guess its USP must be the additional packaging of the videos, offering insider tips on the city. It’s a smart idea, but the result is strangely limited. The mini-films are a little hyperactive and overtly ‘cool’, and are based only on consuming (generally food and clothes). It is not a Paris that most of its residents will recognise, but it is perhaps the kind of city that visitors want to discover.

The five videos, supposedly covering different themes, are almost completely interchangeable, and the presenters – graphic designers, clothes designers and event designers (notice a theme here) - surely all move in the same circles. Bizarrely, they all seem to live in the same part of Paris too, so only establishments based between Barbès and Bastille are featured. The contrast with the London videos - where there seems to be a nice multicultural mix - is quite striking, but is this also a reflection of differences in the two cities? Surely not.

Another thing to note is the fact that both the site and the videos heavily promote Samsung products (they seem to be almost an extension of the Korean brand), but then I suppose it’s the price we pay for expecting our apps to be free.

Indeed, other parts of the Unlike service also seem to be dictated by corporate hands. The Avant/Garde diaries, an appealing idea (to document avant-garde aspects of cities through the eyes of respected artists, musicians and other noteworthy innovators) - and one that produces genuinely interesting videos - is a Mercedes project (although to be fair, the company’s hand here is almost entirely invisible).

Is Unlike the future of city guides? The internet generation wants everything for nothing, so it is possible that we will all soon be planning our trips abroad using lifestyle apps that are paid for by large corporations. I would in no way conclude that Unlike have sold their editorial freedom, but the smooth, consumerist vision of the city that such companies demand can sometimes be a little sinister.

More info
Currently (and unsurprisingly), the app is only available on Android systems, but apparently an iPhone version is 'relaunching' soon.



PS: This is not a sponsored post - I am simply interested in how Paris is represented in books, websites, and apps. If you
have a Paris related service or book you would like me to review - in a completely independent manner - drop me a line.