Friday, September 30, 2011

Something for the Weekend (30th September - 2nd October)

A few ideas for what promises to be a busy weekend in Paris.

Nuit Blanche or Black Nights?
The Nuit Blanche is the big event of the weekend (see my suggestions here), but for those who prefer something quieter and more reflective after dark, the Jour de la Nuit offers a series of events across France that will seek to reclaim the night from noise and light pollution.

Potato Days
Although there may be a debate about how the night should be, there is no debate about the potato - everyone loves them don't they? Apparently they still need a promotional day though, but if that means tastings in the Jardin des Plantes of the recipes of renowned chefs, I'm all for it.

White Yoga Session
After a sleepless night and an overdose of potatoes, you might need something to help you refind your shape. What better than a Sunday morning yoga session? Here - at the Champs de Mars - you'll be surrounded by 2000 other people, but you'll also have the Eiffel tower to focus on. Apparently its already fully booked, but I'm sure they won't notice another couple of people joining in to one side - just remember to wear white!

If you're looking for something a bit more sporty, there are two options;

Une Journée sur l'Eau
On the Basin de la Villette this Sunday you'll be able to discover the world of water sports. The French Olympic kayak and rowing teams will be present to demonstrate their disciplines, and of course you'll be able to get in the water and have a go yourself!

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
The biggest horse race meeting in the French calendar, and one of the biggest in the world, is actually a rather short sprint. Nevertheless, although the race itself, at 4.15pm on Sunday, is quickly over, the event spreads over two days. Go on Saturday for the sport, Sunday for the spectacle.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

La Nuit Blanche 2011

Good news for this 10th edition of the Nuit Blanche event - the current prediction is for a warm and dry weekend. Although many of the installations are inside, very often you'll need to queue outside for long periods, so it's always better if it's not raining!

The event is divided across four zones, loosely linked to the lines 12 and 14 of the Metro (both of which will therefore be running all night). Below you'll find more information on these zones (the limits of which are not always very clear) as well as some of the highlights in each.

For full information, see the official website:

Hotel de Ville
(M° Hotel de Ville/Saint Paul/Rambuteau)

Purple Rain

Artist Pierre Ardouvin has taken inspiration from the Prince song and film to create a surprising installation in the courtyard of the Hôtel d'Albret. Whilst listening to snippets of the song, you can walk around the set under a fine sprinkling of purple water carrying a purple umbrella!

Batignolles - Pigalle

(M° Rome/Brochant/La Fourche/Place de Clichy/Blanche)

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was sent by morse code from earth, reflected from the surface of the moon, and then received back on earth. Afterwards, Katie Paterson took the result, including notes that had been lost in craters or deep shadows, and retranslated it into a new score. The result will be played on a mechanical piano at the Theatre Ouvert.

The Grande Finale
Spanish artist Karmelo Bermejo's installation - an video of a fireworks display financed by a bank and centring on the word 'recession' - may be amusing, but what is really interesting here is the opportunity it offers to discover the Lycée Chaptal.

La Nouvelle Athènes - Saint Georges
(M° Trinité d’Estienne d’Orves/Saint-Georges/Pigalle/Anvers)

Dance (All Night/Paris)
In another lycée, this time the lycée Edgar Quinet, Mélanie Manchot will set up a silent disco. Professional and amateur dancers, all equipped with headphones, will dance to a variety of different musical styles, with the results broadcast live on giant screens.

Black Cloud
A theme is possibly developing here - in yet another school, Carlos Amorales will fix 30,000 paper butterflies around the walls. What could be beautiful becomes slightly menacing, as all 30,000 are made from the same black paper.

Montmartre - Anvers
(M° Pigalle/Abbesses/Anvers)

France Dubois will reinvent the funiculaire that leads up to the Sacre Coeur, dressing it up in red lights that will beat like a heart. Expect queues at the top and bottom!

I will keep a light burning
If you do manage to make it to the bottom, take a trip to the Square Louise Michel where you'll find a glimpse of the future. Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil will present the night sky of October 1st 2111 in 500 candles!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Something for the Weekend (23rd – 25th September)

The autumn may begin on Friday, but the autumn season in Paris is already in full swing. A selection of some interesting events this weekend can be found below.


30 Years of the TGV
France's famous TGV train is 30 years old this September, a date which certainly merits a celebration. The Gare de Lyon, the first station in Paris to host the train, will be the scene for the festivities which will include a 'TGV experience' (four specially prepared carriages and a visit to the driver's cabin) and later on, the 'nuit de TGV' with music and video displays on the facade of the station.

See the official website for full details on the programme:

Continuing from last weekend's event (bands and musicians in the city's bandstands with additional stands promoting local actors in sustainable development activities alongside), this weekend's concerts are taking place at the Square des Epinettes in the 17th (M° Guy Moquet) on Saturday 24th, and the Parc de Belleville on Sunday 25th.

Full details of events can be found here:

Not sure what cultural events are planned in Paris in the coming months? For the fourth year running, the city of Paris is organising a special event to promote as many of these happenings as possible. This includes promotional stands, but also performances from some of the artists concerned and special offers for many of the shows and exhibitions.

Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th, Quai de Loire, 75019

The Belgian new year
You need a good sense of humour to live in a country which has not had a government for nearly two years, but the Belgian sense of humour is particularly strange. Jealous of the Chinese and Russian new years that are celebrated across the world, a group of Belgian friends in Paris decided to create the 'Nouvel An Belge'. This event, organised across Montmartre, also includes a street procession, but it is above all a good excuse to drink beer and discover new Belgian talents.

Saturday 24th

Artists Open Days
Several artists open days are being organised in an around Paris this weekend. As usual, these events are as much about exploring normally unseen passageways and courtyards than discovering the creations of the artists, but you might make some unexpected discoveries.

Les Ateliers de Menilmontant:

Ateliers d'artistes de Fontenay aux Roses:

Pleins feux sur Ivry:

Restaurant/Bar of the Week

The Fête de la Gastronomie
With French gastronomy now being recognised by UNESCO as an important cultural heritage, it seems logical that there is now also a day to celebrate this essential part of French life. This day is September 23rd, the first day of Autumn, and sees thousands of events organised across the country. In Paris, you'll find behind the scenes visits to restaurants, tastings and special offers in a number of locations.

Full details on the planned events can be found here:

Take a Break from Paris

The Hortillonages d'Amiens
Amiens, only an hour or so north of Paris, is always worth a visit for its cathedral and city centre recreated by Auguste Perret, but until October 15th you can also explore it through the 'hortillonages'. This festival mixes landscapes, art and performances, reinventing spaces in the city to better appreciate them. The event has two objectives; protect certain zones at risk of redevelopment, and promote young artists. A third objective, unwritten this time, is to entertain visitors to the city!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Something for the Weekend (16th - 18th September)

The main event this weekend is the Journées du Patrimoine (see my suggestions here), but there are plenty of other events happening if you find the queues too long at key heritage sites.


Parking Day
Started in San Francisco in 2005, Parking Day is an attempt to reclaim the city from the omnipresence of the car. This year's annual event is scheduled (worldwide) for this Friday (the 16th) and there are plenty of events happening in the Paris region. The basic idea is to take over a parking space somewhere in your town and city, and use it as a badminton court, picnic space or a guerilla garden! Amongst other initiatives in Paris, you'll find a 'Kar Window' in the Rue Notre Dame des Victoires (a large mirror in the place of a car, reflecting the image of the pedestrian back onto himself) and a green parade from 9.30am at the Cité internationale universitaire.

See the official website for more details on the planned events:

Continuing from last weekend's event (bands and musicians in the city's bandstands with additional stands promoting local actors in sustainable development activities alongside), this weekend's concert is taking place at the Square d'Anvers (M°Anvers) this Sunday 18th.

Full details of events can be found here:

Tattoo Art Fest
One of the more alternative events of the weekend is the Tattoo Art Fest show near the Stade de France. Featuring many of the world's leading tattoo artists, it will also include BMX competitions, circus acts and burlesque performances, all inside a circus school!

Friday 16th to Sunday 18th
Académie Fratellini, rue des Cheminots, St Denis-La Plaine

Tout baigne

Following last year's photographic exhibition of toilets around the world, the SIAAP, a public water treatment agency, has chosen the theme of the shower this time around. You'll find the large-scale photos all along the Boulevard de la Bastille.

Restaurant/Bar of the Week and Take a Break from Paris!

The Fête de l'Huma
Organised by Communist newspaper 'L'Humanité', this annual three-day event mixes debates, live music and sausages! Originally created in 1930 to raise funds for the newspaper, it has become a more popular event today that brings together upwards of 500,000 people each year. The musicians performing also reflect this duality - veteran protesters such as Joan Baez and Bernard Lavilliers alongside younger pop stars including April Lavigne and the Ting Tings. The music and conferences (and cheap prices) are the biggest draw, but the event also attracts a very wide range of independent caterers offering everything from lobster to kebabs, yassa to crepes!

Friday 16th - Sunday 18th
Parc Georges-Valbon,
55 av Waldeck Rochet, 93120 La Courneuve

RER Aubervilliers - La Courneuve

Full details on the line ups (and food!) can be found here:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Journées du Patrimoine: My Suggestions

One of the highlights of September in Paris is the annual Journées du Patrimoine (heritage days) weekend, where access is given to a wide range of normally closed to the public locations. Popular opinion will tell you that the event can involve nightmare 2-hour queues to visit some places (the Palais de l'Elysée, or President's residence for example), but my recommendations are a little more out of the ordinary, and I can promise you that you won't queue at all!

(Re)Discover the Train Stations of Paris
The theme of this year's event is 'le voyage', so what better place to start than at one of the city's train stations? Amongst other discoveries, you'll get a view of the city from the balcony of the Gare de l'Est, and at the Gare de Lyon you'll be able to climb the famous clock tower.

Full details of events can be found here:

Our Daily Bread
The 'Du Pain et des Idees' boulangerie near the Canal Saint Martin is not only a superb example of a 19th century establishment with its ceramics and painted glass, but also one of the best in the city today. To celebrate the fact that the shop is listed as a historic monument, and also the fact that baker Christophe Vasseur also uses 19th century techniques, the boulangerie will be open for the weekend for a series of events, including the chance to make your own dough!

34 rue Yves-Toudic, 75010

Mémorial du Bazar de la Charité
Built on the spot of a terrible fire that cost the lives of over 150 members of the aristocracy (with around 95% of the victims being female), this chapel is always open to the public daily. What is more rarely seen though is the memorial section at the rear which explains the tragedy in more detail and celebrates the lives of the victims.

Rue Jean-Goujon, 75008 Saturday - Sunday 14:00 to 17:30

The Musée des Moulages
The Musée des Moulages Dermatologiques (museum of dermatological casts) within the walls of the Hôpital St Louis is a very private museum and generally open only to students and those working in the medical profession. Featuring casts of real examples of terrible skin diseases, it is rather gruesome, but for historical and artistic reasons, it is also strangely fascinating!

Hopital Saint Louis
1 Avenue Claude-Vellefaux, 75010

Palais d'Iena
The Palais d’Iena is perhaps the most well-known and well-respected building of the architect Auguste Perret. In wonderful simplicity it manages to combine classical, academical principles with modernist design and materials.

The building was erected between 1937 and 1946, initially to serve as a museum of public works. This initiative was however not very successful, and since 1959 it has hosted the Conseil économique, social et environnemental (French Economic and Social Council). The public is not generally admitted inside the building so the patrimoine weekend offers you the opportunity to view the fantastic interiors, which include an auditorium for 300 people and a monumental staircase.

Palais d’Iena
9, Place d'Iéna - 75016

Maison dite de Marie Touchet
This house, invisible from the street, is a rare exemple of renaissance architecture in Paris. Built at the beginning of the 16th century, it is a mixture of stone and coloured bricks, and divided into two parts. As it is generally only open to the public once a year during this weekend, it is the ideal opportunity to discover this little known building.

22 bis rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004

These are just a few of my suggestions, but I'm sure there is something for everyone in the full list of Paris events!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

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

Back to school, back to reality. Paris now begins its Autumn cycle, with a whole series of events planned before the end of the year, so although the temperatures may be dropping and the days getting shorter, there's still a lot to look forward to!


We Love Green
A music festival cannot simply be a music festival anymore, but now must also be responsible and leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. Being held on Saturday and Sunday at the Parc de Bagatelle in the west of Paris, the We Love Green festival combines an interesting line-up (a mix of folk/pop and chilled dance) with an ecological spirit. There may be one small problem to put a dampner on the party - rain is predicted this weekend!

See the official website for more details on the full line-up:


Another 'responsible' and 'eco-friendly' musical event, but this time completely free. Being held in a selection of bandstands around the city over a three-week period, it matches up a series of up and coming bands and musicians with additional stands promoting local actors in sustainable development activities.

This weekend you'll find the roadshow at the Square du Commerce in the 15th on Saturday 10th, and at the Place des Fêtes in the 19th on Sunday 11th.

Full details of events can be found here:

Tours Circus in La Défense
The skyscrapers of La Defense will provide a spectacular backdrop to the first edition of a new street circus festival. Featuring a number of internationally renowned companies, it will include fanfares, dancers, acrobats and highrise performers.

In the evening, a show mixing the opera and the circus will provide a spectacular end to the day's events.

Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th
Find out more here:

Hangawi Grand Festival

The celebrations of the Chinese and Hindi communities in Paris are now well known, but the festivals of the Korean community are more secret. This Saturday at the Jardin d'Acclimatation, the Hangwai grand festival will give you the chance to celebrate a Korean harvest festival. Although there is unlikely to be any Korean crops on display, you will discover some of the community's arts, traditions and cuisine!

Saturday 10th, 11am - 4pm
Jardin d'Acclimatation
Bois de Boulogne - 75116

Restaurant/Bar of the Week

Le Pearl
Lindsey from the Lost in Cheeseland blog is hosting 'Paris's first foodspotting event' this Friday at her friendly neighbourhood restaurant Le Pearl. I'm not sure what foodspotting entails, although it seems to involve taking photos of your lunch with an iPhone and sharing it on social networks. Whatever the logic is behind the service, Lindsey's event is a great way to discover a new venue and meet a few people. From one of her previous visits, it does seem to be a place worth checking out too.

Le Pearl
46 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011, M°Parmentier/Oberkampf

Take a Break from Paris

A Sunday tour of the Vexin

The Vexin is a verdant plateau to the north-west of Paris that stretches out towards the Picardy and Normandy regions. Although not geographically far from Paris, it can be tricky to explore, particularly using public transport, which is why the Baladobus scheme is such a good idea.

Throughout the summer and until the end of September, the (balado)bus picks up passangers from the Pontoise and Cergy train stations on Sunday mornings and takes them on a tour of the Vexin region, taking in castles, museums and quaint villages, before dropping them back off at the station at the end of the day.

Download the PDF for full details of times and the sites to visit: