Thursday, September 30, 2010

Something for the Weekend (1st – 3rd October)

Sleepless nights this weekend as the annual Nuit Blanche event returns to the city. If you need your sleep though, you’ll also find several other recommended (daytime!) events below.

The Nuit Blanche

As usual, the event is spread across several zones in the city. This time they are Ouest (around Champs Elysèe/Trocadero), Est (Belleville), and Centre (the Marais, Chatelet and Saint Germain). Picking out individual events seems rather pointless as the general idea is to pick a zone (or all three if you're going to be up all night) and wander from installation to installation

See for the full programme of events.

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

Now in its 89th edition, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, nicknamed 'L'Arc' by those in the know, is not just one famous race but in fact a whole weekend of events. There are 8 races on both the Saturday and the Sunday, with the main race, 'l'Arc' taking place at 4.05pm on Sunday. For such a prestigious event, prices are incredibly cheap. Just 4 Euros on the Saturday and 8 on the Sunday – but free for women wearing a hat and the U18s!

A few 'l'Arc' facts:

  • It was first run on October 3rd 1920
  • It is recognised as being the most important flat face in the world
  • It offers a total purse this year of 4 million Euros!
  • It is run over 2400 metres, with the track record (2m24:60) held by Peintre Célèbre since 1997
  • It is watched on television by over 1 billion people around the world
  • It attracts more bets than any other race in the world calendar
2nd/3rd October
Hippodrome de Longchamp

Le Mondial de l’Auto
I do not have a driving licence and have very little interest in cars, but I recognise that this is a big event for those who do - last time around (2008) there were nearly 1.5 million visitors! Held every two years, it can date its origins back to 1898 when those wishing to present a vehicle had to first complete a Paris-Versailles-Paris circuit to prove the car was roadworthy. Italic

Porte de Versailles

Oct 2nd - 17th

La France vu par Raymond Depardon

Raymond Depardon, a film maker, photographer and documentary maker, has spent the last few years travelling round France taking photos of an 'ordinary France'. As he explains,
"I visited very different places, with very different stories. I’ve made it a rule to keep a distance from the subject which allowed me to consider regionalistic specificities and try to tell our common story of everyday life."

The result is a series of photos detailing an invisible(!) France populated with industrial estates, car parks and banal shops and houses. It's about as far from the touristic picture book cliché as you can get, but it is a real France and not without its own beauty. Click here for a film of the exhibition.

September 30, 2010 to January 9, 2011
Bibliothèque nationale François Mitterrand

Tuesday - Saturday from de 10am to 7pm,
Sunday from 1pm to 7pm

Antiques and Ham

What could make a more natural combination than antiques and ham? Lots of things probably, but this certainly seems to be a combination that pulls in the crowds. With a history that stretches back to the 15th century, the Foire nationale à la brocante et aux jambons is a colourful piece of French folklore situated on an island in the Seine that was previously popular with impressionist painters. Expect a wide mix of antiques, bric a brac, music and...well, ham!

Ile de Chatou

Until Sunday 3rd October

Daily from 10am - 7pm

Entrance: 5€

Rueil-Malmaison RER

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting ready for la Nuit Blanche

The Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night artistic happening in Paris, is back upon us this Saturday. If you want to get the best from the event, or if you want to get involved in some small way, here are a few 'before the event' suggestions.

Download the iPhone application
The city of Paris has prepared a free application that details the events taking place, helps you to plan your itinery, and will provide a live news feed during the event.

Donate a t-shirt
The artist Rirkrit Tiravanija will be presenting a history of the political t-shirt during the event, but there is still time to donate one of your limited edition numbers! If you have one at the back of your wardrobe, head to the Galerie Chantal Crousel (10 rue Charlot 75003) before October 1st.

Read these tips
It's an all-night event so you won't be getting any sleep. Here are some tips that will show you how to stay awake all night long.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Something for the Weekend (24th – 26th September)

Find below my recommendations for this weekend in Paris.

The Festival America

Vincennes, which has it’s annual Prix de l’Amerique horse race, also has a biennial America literary festival. As well as books and authors – including Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, Colum McCann and Douglas Kennedy – you will also find films, debates, concerts and exhibitions, all of which deal with America in a very wide sense (also Cuba, Canada, Mexico…).

September 23rd - 26th
Various locations around Vincennes

Full programme :

Journées portes ouvertes artistes de Menilmontant

As usual for this kind of event, I recommend visiting not necessarilly for the quality of the art, but rather for the access it gives to hidden and generally unaccessible corners of the district concerned. This time the area - mostly centred on the 20th arrondissement - is a particularly interesting one.

Full programme and list of locations:

An Ethical Fashion Show

The Docks de Seine development in front of the Gare d'Austerlitz has run into many problems, but this weekend will finally give you an opportunity to visit the site. The fantastic looking building designed by the architects
Jacob et MacFarlane is still only a quarter full, but the Cité de la Mode et du Design are determinded to make use of the space. This weekend sees the 'ethical fashion show', an event that plans to show how fashion can respect the environment and help social insertion and cohesion!

The full programme can be found here:


Already in its 12th edition, the TechnoParade will very appropriately start at 12pm at
the Place Denfert-Rochereau before heading on to the Bastille, before invading bars and clubs around the city later on in the evening.

The route and times of the event can be found here:

Fête des Jardins
The annual fête des jardins event sees activities and happenings organised in parks across the city. Of most attraction are the 'secret gardens', generally those belonging to religious groups, who open their doors only once a year for this event. One particularly worth visiting is the
Jardin de l'Hotel de la Tremoille (the official residence of the Serbian ambassador) which I have previously described on Invisible Paris.

Click here for the full list of secret gardens.

A Pyramid of shoes

Handicap International organise each year a series of very worthwhile (and photogenic!) events, in particular one on the 25th September at Trocadero with the aim of focussing attention on the continued use of mines around the world.

More details here:

Les Lundis de Lutèce
Sylvanie de Lutèce returns this Monday for her monthly historical investigation after a summer break. The theme this time around is ‘La Cour des Miracles’, the lawless and dangerous parts of Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries. The presentations are given (in French) in a joyous and friendly environment (a bar!) and are full of juicy anecdotes!

Monday 27th 8pm
Le Baron Samedi
12 Rue des Goncourt, 75011

The Grand Palais launches its Monet spinner

The Grand Palais yesterday (September 22nd) launched the biggest show of this (and several other) autumn seasons with a vast retrospective of the work of the impressionist Claude Monet.

Over half a million people are expected to visit the exhibition over the next four months, and long queues can be expected at all times. However, if you are far from Paris or simply want to look at what will be presented during the show, be sure to visit the excellent website that has been created for the occasion.

The website offers both a virtual visit of the show with full descriptions of each painting and more fun, interactive elements to help you to understand Monet's world.

Claude Monet
Grand Palais
22nd September to au 24th January 2011.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Spectaculaire Weekend

This weekend sees the return of another one of those excellent initiatives that the city of Paris comes up with from time to time. Called Spectaculaire, it is a two-day event that gives a preview of the cultural events that will be coming to the city in the next 6 months or so. Venues and organisations will be running stalls on the site alongside the river Seine and presenting their programmes, but there are also several stages where you can catch extracts of the shows, plays and concerts that will be coming to a site near you soon!

Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September, 10am to 7pm
Port de la Gare, 75013. M° Quai de la Gare

Free entrance
Click here to see the full programme of events.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

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

This weekend is all about the Journées du Patrimoine, but of course this is not the only event taking place in Paris over the next few days. You’ll find below my suggestions of interesting heritage places to visit where you won’t be expected to queue for two hours beforehand, as well as another couple of events if heritage really isn’t your thing.

Les Journées du patrimoine
I have already made some suggestions on this blog (Palais d’Iena, Musée des Moulages, Siège du Parti Communiste, 100 years of the Nord-Sud line), but here are a few more that may interest you :

The Lycée Jacques Decour
It's always interesting to visit places that are completely outside of our daily routines, and a 19th century school building is probably not the type of place where most of you would generally go. Visit for the typical period architecture and layout, and also for a glimpse into how the French school system works.
12 avenue Trudaine – 75009, Saturday 2-6pm

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

As this Friday is Parking Day (see below) why not ccombine events by visiting a converted car park and garage? Used today by a regional urbanism organisation, the building was originally created to house the Le Monde newspaper in 1990 by the architects Pierre du Besset and Dominique Lyon.
15, rue Falguière, 75015

The full programme of Patrimoine events can be found here.

PARK(ing) Day
You may not be aware of the fact, but this Friday (17th) is PARK(ing) Day, ‘an annual, worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good’. Several events are being organised in France, but the one that looks most interesting to me is a walk through some of Paris’s car parks with Dédale and Promenades Urbaines. The walk, above and under ground, will investigate evolutions in the architecture of car parks, and how they can be incorporated or adapted in the city.

Confirm a place on the walk by sending a mail to, then meet on the piazza of the Centre Pompidou at 4pm on Friday 17th. The walk will last approximately three hours and is FREE!

Apéro et quizz
The most interesting record label and shop in Paris, Fargo, will be organising its second 'apéro' this Saturday. Turn up at the shop at 6.30pm for a drink and to meet the team (and why not buy some vintage vinyl or artist tour prints), then join everyone next door at the American Bistrot for a music quiz on the theme of 'Chess Records'.
Fargo, 42, rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Journées du Patrimoine: 4. 100 Years of the Ligne Nord-Sud

Rather than suffer the Metro like most Parisians do on a daily basis, why not celebrate it instead? 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the 'Ligne Nord-Sud', today's line 12, and several events are planned to mark the occasion. At the Porte de Versailles station you can visit a train from 1910 or look at a selection of rarely seen photos of the old N-S company. If you are lucky, you may even be able to ride on one of the 1930s Sprague-Thomson trains that will be operating on the line on Saturday and Sunday.

Click here for the full RATP programme this weekend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Journées du Patrimoine: 3. Le Siege du Parti Communiste

Oscar Niemeyer's Communist party headquarters building is fairly underwhelming from the exterior, but it is the interiors that are the real draw. Twisting and winding concrete corridors and undulating surfaces lead to mysterious corners and to a fantastic space age auditorium. As an additional bonus, you can also take a lift to the rooftop terrace for exceptional views across Paris.

Siège du Parti Communiste
2 Place Colonel Fabien 75019
Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am - 5.30pm
Note: A concert is programmed for the Saturday evening at 8.30pm in the auditorium. Entrance is free but tickets are strictly on a first come first served basis.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

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

The Biennale de Belleville
The Venice Biennale may be more famous and well-established, but could something similar be brewing in one of the most dynamic districts of Paris? Launching this year, the Biennale de Belleville will mix contemporary art, showcases and events, with performances and installations in a host of unlikely spots across this multicultural area. Highlights include Solde migratoire, a show featuring the works of 15 leading contemporary artists, Street Painting taking artists out into the street, Take a lift on the East Side or a ride between sites in a Limousine, and Traduire les enseignes, a performance by Lee Show-Chun who will reveal the hidden meanings of the shopfronts of Belleville’s Chinese district!
From 10th September to 23rd October

Festival HQ: Pavillon Carré de Baudoin, 121 rue de Ménilmontant 75020

La Fête de l’Huma

The Fête de l’Huma(nité) is a curious mixture of socialism and sausages, but it is also a cheap and fun weekend event! Artists performing this year can hardly be described as ‘up and coming’, include The Prodigy, Madness and ageing French pop stars Alain Souchon and Jacques Dutronc, but all still know how to put on a show. Tickets for the three day event are available for only 19 Euros, with under 15s getting in free. For the true Huma ambiance though, you can also camp on site, but be prepared for plenty of drinking and debates!
10th-12th September, Parc Departmental de La Courneuve

Le Zapping
The French have long been obsessed with a phenomenon known as Le Zapping on TV channel Canal +, which is basically a rapid-fire selection of the best and worst moments of television. Once a year, the programme becomes an all night event in theatres and cinemas around the country, but this weekend sees the first version of a new format – a free two-hour show outdoors on the Champs de Mars. Expect a wild atmosphere and a curious insight into the likes and dislikes of the French! If taking young people along though, note that organisers have warned that some extracts, which often include coverage of natural disasters, may shock.

Le Grand Zapping Show
Saturday and Sunday, 8.30pm

Ninja Tune festival

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this influential British record label, a selection of their most well known artists will be performing at a variety of venues across Paris. The launch event this takes place this Friday with concerts and DJ sets continuing until October 1st. To accompany the event there will also be an exhibition of artworks relating to the label at the Galerie Chappe in the 18th arrondissement.

Flottement Cellulaire
Another weekend, another good reason to visit the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Artist Anais Lelievre has created ‘Flottement Cellulaire’, an installation on the lake representing floating cells or a kind of ‘primal soup’. It’s a spectacular sight, particularly from the belvedere at the top of the hill (see pictures of the installation here)

Until September 15th Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 75019

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Journées du Patrimoine : 2. The Musée des Moulages

My second recommendation is an extraordinary experience, but certainly not one that will be for everybody! 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. If truth be told it is rather gruesome, but with fascinating historical and artistic qualities!

For more information, read the post I wrote after my visit last year.

Hopital Saint Louis
1 Avenue Claude-Vellefaux, 75010
Note: the museum is only open on the Sunday (19th) from 10am - 6pm

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Journées du Patrimoine: 1. Palais d'Iena

This is the first of a series of posts I'll publish with suggestions for the most interesting and unusual places to visit during the weekend of the Journées du Patrimoine (heritage days) which takes place on the weekend of the 18th/19th September. First up, Auguste Perret's architectural masterpiece.

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.

Tours will also be organised during the weekend by lecturers from the Ecole de Louvre.

If you are not in Paris for the weekend of the 18th/19th, you can still visit the building, albeit virtually! See, then click on visite virtuelle in the bottom left corner of the page.

Palais d’Iena

9, Place d'Iéna - 75016

Saturday 18th – Sunday 19th, 10am to 5pm

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Something for the Weekend (3rd – 5th September)

Architecture, history and football. These are some of my favourite things. I hope they interest you too, because they form the basis of my recommendations this weekend!

A residency at Le Corbusier’s Cité refuge de l'Armée du salut

A collective of artists going under the name of Abawé are currently in residency at the Cité refuge de l'Armée du salut (Salvation Army refuge), a Le Corbussier building dating from 1933. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the collective, the artists have set themselves up for a month in a 1000m2 space which at certain times of the week is made accessible to the public who can come and observe them at work.

The collective have promised paintings, sculptures, and other installations as well as concerts and a debate during the Journées du Patrimoine (18th and 19th September), but beyond the quality of the art itself, this event is surely a good excuse to visit a rarely accessible Le Corbussier building in Paris.

More details on the collective can be found here:

Cité refuge de l'Armée du Salut

12, rue Cantagrel 75013 Paris, M° Bibliothèque

Thursday to Sunday, 3pm to 8pm.

150 ans des 20 arrondissements parisiens
2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the last expansion of Paris and the creation of the 20 arrondissements that still exist today. To celebrate this anniversary, several events are planned this autumn, notably an exhibition at the Galerie des Bibliothèques in the Marais.

The expansion took place on the 1st January 1860, with eleven towns and villages surrounding the old city walls (the fermiers generaux) being absorbed into the new city. These towns (Auteuil, Passy, Les Batignolles, Montmartre, La Chapelle, La Villette, Belleville, Charonne, Bercy, Vaugirard and Grenelle), still retain some of their original village features today, and the exhibition will explain how and why this expansion took place.

22, rue Malher (4e), M° St Paul
From September
2nd to October 24th
Entrance: €4

Keep a note in your diary also for a series of nine very interesting and informative walks
that will be run by an association called Les Promenades Urbaines throughout October in association with this anniversary. These day-long walks, which cover architecture, urbanism and history, have been designed to investigate these ancient villages as well as the old and new city limits.

Full details on the dates and itineries can be found here:

Football : France v Belorus
France will play their first competitive match on home soil after the débâcle at the World Cup in South Africa when the players went on strike, both on and off the pitch. The question before this game is what reaction the players will get from supporters at the Stade de France, a set of fans who have never been slow to show their displeasure in the past. The French football federation expected the worst, going even as far as producing a ridiculous ‘mea culpa’ poem to promote the match, but although tickets as low as 10 Euros can still be bought, at least 60,000 people will nevertheless be present for this first qualifying match for the 2012 European Championships.
Friday 3rd September, 20h45
Stade de France

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paris 2010: more tourists and from further away

The city of Paris has reported an increase in visitors this year in comparison to 2008 and 2009, thanks notably to larger numbers than ever before of tourists from China, Brazil and Russia.

Although British and American tourist numbers are down on previous years, the number of visitors to the French capital from China has increased by 33.6% this year. A similar rise (+29.8%) was seen in the numbers of people coming to Paris from the Middle East, as well as in the numbers of people coming from other developing countries (+19% for visitors from Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia, and +30% for visitors from Africa).

Will Paris change in any way to attempt to attract even more visitors from these regions, or are they in fact simply looking for the same things as the more traditional visitors? The city of Paris has also reported that attendance figures at the city-run museums has also increased (+40% per day), which would seem to suggest that they have the same interests, principally the cultural and historical offerings of the city.

One thing is certain though and that is that Paris will need an even larger pool of hotels. Here as well though the city of Paris believes itself to be prepared, with tourism chiefs announcing the creation of an extra 7000 hotel rooms in the city by 2020. Whether this will lead to a decrease in prices or not though remains to be seen.

Full information on the report can be found here (in French).