NOTE: Easter Sunday is April 16th, but most museums remain open. Some smaller restaurants and shops may be closed on Monday the 17th, as well museums which have usual weekly closure on Mondays.
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March 31-April 1
The Journées Européennes des Métiers d'Art is a European-wide festival of artisans who open their doors to the public. The website is all in French, but a little auto-translate help is all you need to find the artists, jewelry makers, designers, furniture makers, ironsmiths, and more.
March 31-April 2
Art Paris Art Fair at the Grand Palais brings together 139 galleries from 29 countries to show modern art from the last few decades with a particular focus on emerging scenes and artists. The special focus this year is on art from Africa. Entry €25.
The largest gardening festival in Versailles takes place this weekend at the annual Eprit Jardin: L'Art de la Promenade, with free entrance exceptionally to the Potager du Roi. With more than 80 exhibitors, the festival runs from 10am-7pm on the parvis Saint-Louis and rue Maréchal Joffre, rue d'Anjou and at the potager.
It’s the official opening of the Parc Rives de Seine, 7km of riverside path and green space that will from now on be car-free, given over to strolling, cycling and other more environmentally friendly uses.
Blending culture with social in their excellent ‘Music by the Glass’ chamber series, Sinfonietta Paris this year features Antonin Dvořák and Johannes Brahms, exquisitely performed by the Trio Atanassov: Perceval Gilles on violin, cellist Sarah Sultan, and pianist Pierre-Kaloyann Atanassov. You’ll sit closely to the performing artists and afterwards enjoy a wine-tasting reception and mingle with musicians and fellow culture-lovers. Over two nights, one in a private residence in the 14th arrondisement, the other in the historic and elegant Reid Hall in the 6th. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). Register on the website; places limited.
Every Easter the gorgeous Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte puts on a giant Easter egg hunt with over 50,000 Leonidas chocolate eggs hidden around the grounds. There’s also face-painting, creative workshops and a display of ‘artistic fencing’! Fun for all the family. Entry €17.50/15.50 for adults/children; kids under 6 get in free.
A huge ‘manif-concert’ on the Champs-Elysées is the centerpiece of Printemps Solidaire, combining politics and music to promote international solidarity and equality. From 2pm, performances by artists including The Avener, Patrice, FFF, Deluxe and Synapson will take place on 10 mobile stages along the boulevard. Check the website for details of their manifesto and other events organized throughout the Spring.
The 12th annual European Independent Film Festival – the ‘Sundance of Europe’ – is showcasing the best independent films from all across the globe, a cultural experience not to be missed!
Attention vinyl fans, the fourth annual Disquaire Day (Record Shop Day) takes place at over 40 record shops in Paris as well as in shops around France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Check out the website for participating shops and events.
For fans of street art, the world's greatest urban artists will be showing their works at the Urban Art Fair at the Carreau du Temple, represented by 30 galleries. Entry €15.
April 27-May 8
The annual Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) is one of the biggest events of the year, occupying the entire Paris Expo Porte de Versailles (15th arr.) with hall after hall of food and wine, home and garden, fashion and accessories, travel and world cultures, arts and crafts, the famous Inventions Contest, and a ‘Makers Fair’. It's chaos, it's fascinating, and there's always something interesting to learn (or buy, or eat). Just don't go on the weekend unless you like being trampled!
April is Mois de la Photo Grand Paris with photography exhibitions all over Paris and the wider Paris region (some stretching into May). With over 80 exhibitions you may have some trouble choosing; try Time Out’s recommended top 10 (in French).
through April 29
Paris loves its firefighters, and a new free exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville is a celebration of their courage and derring-do. Pompiers de Paris - Notre mission: Sauver (‘Our mission: to save’) shows the history of Paris’ fabled sapeurs-pompiers through photographs, objects, documents and other material from the archives.
through May 21
At La Maison Rouge in the 12th arrondisement, L’Esprit français, Countercultures, 1969-1989 is an exploration – through over 700 works and documents spanning newspapers, flyers, posters, and extracts from films, videos and television shows – of the creation of a distinct ‘French spirit’ by dissident, subcultural and underground voices. Entry €10.
through May 22
The big exhibition of the spring is Vermeer at the Louvre, sets his greatest masterpieces and alongside those of his contemporaries to show how he was part of a dynamic network of ‘Golden Age’ artists. Entry (including the permanent collections) €15, open daily (except Tuesdays) 9am to 6pm, until 9.45pm Wednesdays and Fridays.
through June 17
At Bibliothèque Forney, the library at the magnificent medieval Hôtel de Sens in the Marais, is the fascinating Modes & Femmes 14/18, examining the role of fashion in the lives of women during World War I. In doing so, it shines a light on the difficult – and often conflicting – demands made on women during those turbulent times. Time your visit for a free guided tour on Saturdays at 3pm if your French is up to it; if not, the comprehensive explanatory panels are in English as well as French. Free entry.
through June 25
The Musée D’Orsay’s big spring show is Beyond the Stars: the Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky, focusing on landscape paintings by the Symbolist artists of the late 19th century. You’ll see works by European artists like Gauguin, Denis and Van Gogh, and North American painters such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Emily Carr (the exhibition is organised with the Art Gallery of Toronto). Entry €12.
through July 10
One of the city’s most charming small museums, the Musée Jacquemart-André in the 8th arrondisement, presents a collection of 52 works from the outstanding collection of Alicia Koplowitz – from old masters like Zurbarán, Tiepolo and Goya to modern works by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Modigliani, Rothko Giacometti and Bourgeois. Entry €13.50.
through July 16
Musée Bourdelle, a charming exhibition space in Montparnasse which was once the studio of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, is housing an exhibition of haute couture from Balenciaga, with over a hundred pieces from the Palais Galliera collection and the archives of Maison Balenciaga. The exhibition is part of a Spanish season by Paris’ museum of fashion, Palais Galliera, with other exhibitions to follow through the year.
through July 31
This year marks 100 years since the death of sculptor Auguste Rodin, and there is a calendar of worldwide events to mark the occasion. The centrepiece is the Centenary Exhibition at the Grand Palais, with 200 works by the master himself as well as sculptures and drawings by contemporaries such as Bourdelle, Brancusi, Picasso, Matisse and Giacometti. Entry €13.
Other Paris calendar links
▪ For French Theatre with English surtitles: Theatre in Paris
▪ For general events around Paris: Que Faire à Paris?
▪ For literary events, readings, and classes: Monthly Paris Listing
▪ For indie/alternative music concerts see Gigs in Paris
▪ For art exhibitions in galleries and museum see Slash Paris
▪ For mainstream events visit the Paris Office of Tourism