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