Thursday, June 30, 2011

Something for the Weekend (1st - 3rd July)

A few suggestions for things to do and places to go in and around Paris for this first weekend of July.


First Sunday of the month = free museums
Many of Paris's national and municipal museums offer free entry the first Sunday of the month.

Click here for a full list of those that are included in this initiative.

A Treasure Hunt
"Dive into a real treasure hunt in the Parisian street maze" says the official website, but what does this mean exactly? Basically it's a fun way to explore the backstreets and courtyards of Paris, meeting artisans and artists, looking for the solutions to a series of enigmas. You can follow the treasure hunt or as a team, and all clues and questions are available in both French and English.

The treasure hunt takes place on Saturday 2nd, and you just need to register at one of several town halls across the city.

Full details can be found here:

Trésors de dinosaures
The Institut de Paléontologie Humaine near the Jardin des Plantes will be open exceptionally throughout the summer, displaying a wide range of dinosaur fossils
. The exhibition is organised in association with Sotheby's, as all of these pieces will be auctioned off in October. So, if you've always been looking for a 11 metre long Diplodocus, you now know where to go to find one!

Find out more here:

A giant leap over Montmartre

After throwing himself from the Eiffel Tower last year wearing just a pair or roller blades, skater Taïg Khris will this Saturday attempt the world's longest jump in front of the Sacré Coeur.

See a video presentation here:

Give me a wall so I can escape
Described as a festival of urban culture, this three week event begins Friday and is based around several sites in the East of Paris. Although it features some music and dance, it is mostly a celebration of street art. Several galleries are involved, but it is also an event that is open to anyone. To join in, visit the large 40 metre long wall in the Square Karcher on the Rue des Pyrenées.

Full details can be found on the festival's Facebook page.

Restaurant and Bar of the Week

Le Petit Trianon
Closed for over 20 years, and recently opened after several months of renovations - the goal of which was seemingly to make the place look old - Le Petit Trianon alongside the concert venue of the same name in Pigalle, is perhaps the bargain of the week. In an area which specialises mostly in sex shops and tourist traps, this honest restaurant, featuing a range of classic dishes, casually plays on its history as a 19th century meeting place of the artists of Montmartre.

80 Bld Rochechouart, 75018, M°Anvers

Take a Break from Paris

A Sporting Weekend!

If golf is your thing, make sure you catch the Open de France taking place at the Golf National course in Saint Quentin en Yvelines to the south west of Paris. You'll get a sneak peek at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue.

If you're more of a cyclist, you will no doubt already have noted that the Tour de France begins this weekend. The race arrives in Paris on Sunday July 24th, but if you can't wait that long, head out this weekend to the Vendée. The first stage leaves from the picturesque Passage du Gois which links the island of Noirmoutier to the French mainland - at low tide!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Something for the Weekend (24th - 26th June)

A few suggestions for things to do and places to go in and around Paris for this first weekend of summer.


Happy birthday Quai Branly

The Quai Branly museum celebrates its 5th birthday this weekend with a series of events and visits, both indoors and outdoors. The highlight will arguably be a conference on Sunday afternoon with Gilles Clément, designer of the fantastic gardens.

For more details, see the official website:

A 3D garden at the Hotel de Ville

Remaining on a garden theme, this weekend sees the installation of a temporary garden (until July 15th) in front of the Hotel de Ville. What does a 3D garden entail though? According to the city of Paris, it combines architecture, decoration and land art, and is an investigation of
angles and optical illusions.

Full details, including photos, can be found here.

Magnum Days
Famous photographer agency Magnum is hosting a series of events around their offices in the 18th arrondissement until June 26th
. Alongside exhibitions and workshops, you can even have your portrait taken by Martin Parr or Bruce Gilden!

Full details can be found here:

Summer cinema
Summer has arrived, and that means the beginning of several cinema festivals, both indoors and outdoors. The nationwide Fête du Cinema begins Saturday and runs until July 1st. The principle? Buy one full-priced ticket, then all other tickets for the rest of the week will cost you just 3 Euros each.

This weekend promises to be warm and sunny, so why not watch some films outside? In the Domaine de Saint Cloud to the West of the city, a series of films will be shown from 10.30pm, including Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild' from 3am on Sunday morning! See the full programme here:

Visits with Architects

A second weekend for the 'A Vivre' organised visits to private houses and apartments with both the property owners and the architects who redesigned the spaces.

The full list of places to visit in Paris can be found here:

Futur en Seine
The Futur en Seine festival, an investigation of innovation in the Paris region, comes to an end this weekend. The 104 Arts centre will welcome the 'Village des Innovations' with robots, augmented reality and artistic performances, and the closing party at Enghein les Bains (free bus service from Paris) will be centred on a giant floating 'ghetto blaster' installed on the town's lake

Full details of the festival can be found here:

Wake in Progress
In honour of Bloomsday, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore will be displaying a selection of pieces from Wake in Progress, Stephen Crowe’s ongoing project to illustrate every page of Finnegans Wake, until June 30th. Variously described as 'ambitious', 'mad' and 'one of the most incredible and beautiful things I have ever seen.

Shakespeare and Company,
37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005

Restaurant and Bar of the Week

Much hyped restaurant 'Frenchie' opened a wine bar annex just opposite the venue this week, which makes it most talked about location of the week. Given the waiting lists at the restaurant though, I'm not sure if it's even worth mentioning this new addition or not. Anyway, it should be a little more casual, so you can always wander by and have a look.

Le Frenchie and Frenchie 'Bar à Vin'
5-6, rue du Nil, 75002
01 40 39 96 19,

Take a Break from Paris

The Paris Air Show at Le Bourget

Taking a break from Paris usually means getting away from the crowds, but that certainly won't be the case at Le Bourget. Nevertheless, it's the only opportunity you'll have in the next two years to see the latest developments in aviation and some truly spectacular flight displays.

Full details here:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Something for the Weekend (17th – 19th June)

A few suggestions for things to do and places to go in and around Paris this weekend.


Skateboard Culture

For its first major summer theme, the new Gaité Lyrique centre has chosen skateboard culture. Although the links between a 'sport' and a place with a mission to explore digital culture may not be immediately obvious, organisers point out the many artistic spheres skateboarding has influenced, including music, graphics, cinema, photography, fashion and video games. All of these will be featured in one way or another over the summer, and there will even be a mini-ramp in the park opposite for those who want to learn or practice their skills!

For more details on the exhibition (which begins this Saturday), see the official website:

Salon Emmaus

Emmaus is a charity that seeks to help the poorest and most vunerable members of society. As a means of fundraising it often organises auctions and sales. The biggest of all is held this weekend at the Porte de Versailles where thousands of bargains (and no doubt thousands of bargain hunters too) will be ready to be snapped up.

Full details can be found here.

More Jazz
Following the launch of the Paris Jazz festival (mentioned last week), two more jazz festivals begin this weekend. At La Defense, the term 'jazz' is used loosely, but the large-scale free events are desgined to attract the largest number of people possible (up to 20,000 people at each concert). The festival begins this weekend with a show by drummer Manu Katché, with guests including Sly Johnson and Finlay Quaye.

Full details here:

At Saint Ouen the jazz is 'manouche' and on a smaller scale, but can be found across the town in the 'puce' markets, in bars and on street corners.

Full details here:

Visits with Architects
Each year, A Vivre, an architecture magazine, organises a series of visits to private houses and apartments that have been redesigned by architects. The visits are run by both the property owner and the architect concerned, giving an insight into the reasons behind the design and how it works in practice. Around 20 properties can be visited in Paris (both this weekend and the following weekend), but the reservation system does seem to be a little complicated. Good luck!

The full list of places to visit in Paris can be found here:

Bar of the Week

Curio Parlor

This week I discovered a new bar in the city thanks to an invite to an evening organised by Kim at I Heart Paris. A good time was had by all in a nice (but hot!) space just slightly off the main tourist trails. The Curio Parlor claims to be a modern-day speakeasy, but it actually looks more like the kind of place that was probably a swingers club not so long ago, but that's cool!

Curio Parlor, 16 Rue des Bernardins 75005

Restaurant of the Week

Pink Flamingo Pizza

The Pink Flamingo is more a take-away joint than a restaurant, but that's perfect because this Sunday it is being used as the feeding station for a 'Pizza picnic' by the Canal Saint Martin to celebrate the first year of the Paris by Mouth website. Get yourself a slice and join in the fun!

Full details here:

Take a Break from Paris

Provins – Les medievales

Although just an hour from Paris, a trip to Provins is like a voyage back to the middle ages. At no time is this truer than during the 'Medievales' festival, where the whole town is taken over by minstrels, jousters and hog roasts. Balls and banquets are also organised, as well as presentations and displays of medieval arts and crafts.

Full details here:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Something for the Weekend (10th – 12th June)

Yet another long weekend, with Monday being a public holiday for some – but not all – Parisians (who said France was a simple country?). Enjoy any time you do have to explore!


Metro – Ticket pour un Expo

The Paris Metro has long fascinated visitors and locals alike thanks to its unique architecture, its external stretches and its mysterious hidden bits. All in all, definitely a subject that deserves an exhibition, which is good because one has just been launched at the Musée des Arts et Métiers! Given the speciality of the museum, it will naturally feature a lot of technical elements, but there is also room for interactive 'games' and a display featuring art inspired by the Metro.

For more details on the exhibition, see the official website:

Parade(s) – festival des arts de la rue

Just outside the city in Nanterre, this street festival will be celebrating its 22nd edition this weekend. The centre of the town will be transformed into a giant stage over three days, featuring circus acts, music, dance - and of course parades!

More details can be found here:

Invader 1000
To celebrate the 1000th Space Invader mosaic placed on the walls of Paris, the anonymous artist behind the pixel characters has organised an exhibition at the gallery La Generale. Itself a barely converted industrial space previously belonging to the EDF electricity company, it is hosting photos of each of Invader's 1000 creations as well as a selection of other installations.

Full details on the exhibition can be found here:

Jardin d'été 2011 au Musée du Quai Branly
Each summer (we're nearly there..), the gardens at the Quai Branly offer a series of activities to visitors around a particular theme. This year it is "l'eloge de la lenteur" ('in praise of slowing down' perhaps) and features several spaces labelled guingette, music, theatre and even ice-cream van! In any case, a good excuse to visit an interesting space - and chill out!

See the full programme of events here:

Paris Jazz Festival

Starting this weekend and running until July 31st, the Paris Jazz Festival is another 'slowing down' activitiy! Taking place at the Parc Floral near Vincennes, it combines a wide range of jazz music with green spaces where you can picnic or just lie down. If you have kids, the Parc Floral - with its large play area - is also arguably the best place in Paris to take them.

The full line up and dates can be found here:

Restaurant (and Bar) of the Week

Mon Oncle le Vigneron

"Being here is like having dinner at a friend’s house where you’re expected to eat and drink, but not help with the dishes afterward" wrote Eric Goldschein in a glowing review on the HIP Paris blog. "Just remember to call ahead" he added, but then forgot to give either the address or the phone number. Well here they both are!

2 Rue Pradier, 75019 (M° Pyrenées)
01 42 00 43 30

Take a Break from Paris

Chantilly – Le Prix de Diane

The best time to visit Chantilly is clearly in the Spring. Firstly strawberries and raspberries are in season, and what could be better to eat with the local cream? Secondly the Prix de Diane takes place. This year's edition of France's most chic horse race meeting is being held this Sunday at the hippodrome which is bang in the middle of town and also right next to the train station (which itself is only 20 minutes from Paris if you choose the right train).

The race itself is a short one, but plenty of other activities are organised on site, and you can always visit the chateau before or afterwards. Just one thing though - don't forget to take a hat!

Click on this link and you’ll even be able to get in free!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Something for the Weekend (3rd - 5th June)

A long weekend for many Parisians as Thursday is a Public Holiday and Friday becomes a 'pont'. Expect to find the city quieter than usual, but still with plenty of things to do!


Rendez-vous aux jardins

Across France, 2,200 gardens will be opened up to the public, most offering a special series of events over the weekend. In Paris, the Palais Royal will be home to a 'jardin nourricier' over the period displaying fruits and vegetables, and there will also be rare opportunities to visit the gardens of the Hotel Matignon (Prime Minister's residence) and the mini forest at the heart of the Bibliothèque nationale. For a suggestion outside of Paris, see below.

For the full programme, see the official website:

Les Nuits Photographiques

Les Nuits Photographiques is a new festival held each Friday evening until June 24th in the wonderful surroundings of the Buttes Chaumont park. Join others at the Pavillon du Lac for a 'before' drink, then - when the sun goes down - enjoy projections of a selection of photo projects from around the world accompanied by DJs and live music.

More details can be found here:

Les Musicalles de Bagatelle

Staying on a bucolic theme, but with a rather more sedate event, les Musicalles de Bagatelle is a four-day classical music festival at the Bagatelle gardens in the Bois de Boulogne.

See the full programme here:

Bar (and Restaurant) of the Week

Le Floreal

A non-descript neighbourghood bar that suddenly became flavour of the month when a new team took over, Le Floreal has reopened this week following extensive renovations. It is much cleaner now with a more defined identity, but will it succeed in bringing back the crowds or have they all moved on elsewhere now? Several people reported that the house burger was one of the best in Paris, which should bring back some of the more curious, but the best looking addition to me is a corner of the bar that sticks right out into the street. Paris's first walk-through bar?

73 rue du Faubourg du Temple
75010, M°Goncourt

Take a Break from Paris

A midsummer night's dream
The Loire valley is an easy trip from Paris, and the Rendez-vous aux jardins event gives you an excellent reason for getting out and exploring. Amongst other locations, the spectacular gardens of the Chatonnerie castle near Tours will be hosting a performance of a Midsummer night's dream on Saturday evening.