Friday, October 28, 2011

Something for the Weekend (October 28th - 30th)

A long weekend in Paris as the 1st of November is a public holiday so many people take the opportunity to 'faire le pont' - myself included - so apologies for a slightly shorter list this week. If you have any suggestions of your own, please add them to the comments below.


Feeling Gloomy
Clubbing is normally about thumping basslines and BPMs, but not for the Feeling Gloomy team. Launched six years ago in London, and since exported to Berlin and New York, Feeling Gloomy is the art of being happy whilst listening to sad songs (The Cure, Nick Cave, Pulp...). The experience promises to be different, especially as it is being held at the Petit Bain, the most recent addition to the Paris waterfront scene.

Friday 28th, 10.30pm - 4am
Le Petit Bain

We Love 1024 Boom-box
Another 'club' night out with a twist. Although the music may be more standard, the differentiator here is the stage architecure, which is basically scafolding designed to look like a boom box.

Saturday 29th
Grande Halle de la Villette: A quick look at what to expect here:

Festival International de la Photographie Culinaire
Food photography has become an artform of its own, and one deserving of a festival. This year's theme is 'street food', and over 100 photos - displayed in several different parts of the city (Bercy Village, Espace Mobalpa, La Coupole..) - are competing for several prestigious prizes, one of which you can help to choose.

Until November 13th
Full details here:

See a selection of the photos in competition here:

Tmode et Salon du Vintage

Two of the leading fashion fairs have joined forces this year for a large-scale event at the finally being used Cité de la mode et design. 200 stands over 4000m² will feature clothes, furniture and objects, with a 1950s theme.

29th and 30th October, 10am to 7pm
Cité de la Mode et du Design, 32, quai d'Austerlitz, 75013
Full details here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Something for the Weekend (October 21st - 23rd)

A weekend of fairs and shows, but if you really want to get away from the crowds, why not get out and visit a farm? Details on all below.


The FIAC and other art fairs
I've already mentioned the FIAC international art fair and its little cousin the Chic Art Fair, but there are several other similar events also being organised this weekend:
  • Art Elysées: Returning for its fifth edition, Art Elysées features a selection of modern and contemporary art in a large tent alongside the Champs Elysées. Entrance is a rather pricey €15.
  • Slick: One ahead of Art Elysées, Slick is celebrating this year its 6th edition! Around 50 galleries have been invited to show off their creations, again in a marquée tent, this time in front of the Palais de Tokyo and Museé d'art moderne de la ville de Paris. Entrance for this show - which always aims to be a little edgier than the others - is a slightly cheaper €10.
  • Pearls of the North: My personal recommendation. Pearls of the North presents the works of a selection of artists from Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, but above all it is situated inside Auguste Perret's wonderful Palais d'Iena (normally closed to the public), and - something very rare during the FIAC week - entrance is free!

Le Salon du chocolat
Paris and chocolate go together like...well, chocolate and nuts...or chocolate and coffee...or chocolate and orange...Let your imagination run free - you'll find it all at this enormous fair dedicated to the foodstuff, but just don't expect too many freebies!

More information can be found here:

Paris Noir
Paris is of course also closely linked to the world of the 'film noir' or 'roman noir', so a festival dedicated just to this subject is a welcome addition to the city's cultural offer. Now in its second year, this festival - which has Italy as its focus this time around - includes book signings, film showings, guided walking tours (in the steps of Maigret...) and even recreations of crime scenes!

The full programme can be found here:


Basing itself on festivals such as The Great Escape in the UK, and SXSW in the USA, MaMA attempts to bring together professionals from the music industry and up and coming French artists - as well as the listening public! The interest for the average Paris visitor or resident is that a whole host of shows - often free - are being organised across the 18th arrondissement.

Full details on the festival here:

BB Mix
Another music festival, this time being held in Boulogne Billancourt to the west of Paris, but one that always has a genuinely interesting line up. This year, you'll see such rarities as the mythical kraut rock pioneer Silver Apples, and the return of a flashback to my younger days - The Monochrome Set.

Full details on the event can be found here:

Take a Break from Paris

Visit a farm!

This week is the 'semaine du goût' in France (taste/tasting week?) which aims to get everyone eating good, natural farm produced food. In honour of this event, over 100 farms in the Paris region will be opening their gates on Saturday and Sunday to curious city dwellers who want to see where there food comes from. It's a great occasion to get outside and explore the countryside, but don't expect to be petting animals and cuddling little wooly lambs. This is more about how the farmers go about producing juicy chops and steaks!

Having said that, if you have more vegetarian inclinations, you can just visit fruit and vegetable producers.

More details:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FIAC 2011: The art of making money

Security is tight this week in Paris for the Milipol internal state security business fair at the Porte de Versailles, but it is likely to be even tighter still for the annual FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) event at the Grand Palais this weekend.

The event attracts a large portion of the world’s most prestigious private art galleries who come to display their offerings to curious visitors and - more importantly - potential clients. Make no mistake here, people are in town to do business, and art is the commodity.

In theory, the event is open to anyone, but with entrance fees set at €32 (or €55 with the catalogue!), there is a certain whiff of exclusivity. In its prestigious setting, it is a show in itself, perhaps a little like going to the Opéra, but it is unlikely to bring the world of contemporary art to the masses.

Perhaps this though is being a little unfair. The FIAC is not just one event, but also a series of smaller off events in a variety of locations around the city, with - for example - art installations in both the Jardin des Tuilleries and the Jardin des Plantes. It has also inspired a series of spin-offs and copies that attempt to profit from the presence in the city of the world's leading collectors, many of which are far more accessible to the less wealthy.

One of these events is the Chic Art Fair, being held this year further down the Seine in the Cité de la Mode et du Design, on the Quai D’Austerlitz. With entrance prices being a more reasonable 10 Euros, it could be a more democratic option. For those wishing to visit both events though, a BatoChic boat will also be running between the two sites over the weekend.

The Chic Art Fair also brings together a number of galleries seeking clients for the creations they have on display, but it may offer the opportunity to discover up and coming artists and make more affordable purchases. In an attempt to gain an edge over the FIAC, it also includes sections dedicated to photography (including the wonderful Les Douches La Galerie) and street art.

What remains to be seen now is whether Paris remains a AAA location for the modern art market.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something for the Weekend (14th - 16th October)

A quieter weekend this time around in Paris, but still with plenty of activities to get you out and exploring. And if you're fed up with the city, why not get out to Reims for the weekend - there's a good reason to do so!


Bastille Quatier Libre
After a successful first outing, this festival, celebrating the independent spirit of the Bastille district, is back for another edition. It aims to bring together artists and shopkeepers (no chainstores allowed), who present a series of happenings in various spots around the area. A few larger events are organised, but perhaps the most interesting thing to do is just to wander from place to place, eating up the atmosphere.

For more details on the events being organised, see the official website:

La Fête de la Science
Celebrating its 20th edition, this fête attempts to bring science into the spotlight. The large institutions, such as the Cité des Sciences, will be offering free entry this weekend, but I always think that the principal interest of these events is to explore places to which you would never normally have access. Of course, it also helps if you have an inner nerd waiting to get out.

Several things have caught my eye for this weekend:

See a full list of events planned in Paris here.

Chacu'un trouve son chat
Street art loves a cat, possibly because the animal reflects the artists’ spirit of nocturnal exploration. This exhibition brings together some leading names – including of course M. Chat – who are presenting their cat-based creations at the Cabinet d'amateur gallery until November 13th.

Until November 13th
Le cabinet d'amateur
12 rue de la Forge Royale
75011 Paris

Paint BAL
Does street art also love letterboxes? Find out at this interesting exhibition, held of course at the Musée de la Poste, where a number of decorated examples will be on display ahead of a charity auction in 2012. The creations – painted by artists including
L'Atlas and Speedo Graphito, will be sold off in aid of the restoration of a Keith Haring mural at the Hopital Necker, today in rather a poor state.

Until March 1st, 2012
L'Adresse Musée de La Poste
34 boulevard de Vaugirard 75015 Paris

Open Days - Montmartre aux Artistes

With its 184 studios, Montmartre aux Artistes is the biggest artists' estate in Europe. This year the site is organising its annual open day, giving exceptional access to the studios of artists working in a very wide range of disciplines, from painting to architecture.

Full details on the event can be found here:

Take a Break from Paris


Thanks to the recent introduction of a high-speed TGV line, Reims - capital of the Champagne region - is only 45 minutes from Paris. If you have never been, it is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year, and not just to sample its local speciality. The other jewel in this city is its magnificent cathedral, which is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. To mark this anniversary, a spectacular light show is projected onto the building twice each evening at weekends, but hurry - the event ends on October 23rd!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

App review: Do you Unlike Paris?

I was contacted recently by the Unlike city guides team who informed me that they were about to release a series of videos by various Paris movers and shakers, presenting their favourite parts of the city, to accompany their standard Paris guide. It sounded interesting so I thought I’d take a closer look.

The application (and associated website) are nicely designed and easy to use. Most of the chosen spots, covering the standard food, bar, hotel, shop and culture sectors, are well described and clearly presented, but I’m not entirely sure what this guide is supposed to be unlike.

I guess its USP must be the additional packaging of the videos, offering insider tips on the city. It’s a smart idea, but the result is strangely limited. The mini-films are a little hyperactive and overtly ‘cool’, and are based only on consuming (generally food and clothes). It is not a Paris that most of its residents will recognise, but it is perhaps the kind of city that visitors want to discover.

The five videos, supposedly covering different themes, are almost completely interchangeable, and the presenters – graphic designers, clothes designers and event designers (notice a theme here) - surely all move in the same circles. Bizarrely, they all seem to live in the same part of Paris too, so only establishments based between Barbès and Bastille are featured. The contrast with the London videos - where there seems to be a nice multicultural mix - is quite striking, but is this also a reflection of differences in the two cities? Surely not.

Another thing to note is the fact that both the site and the videos heavily promote Samsung products (they seem to be almost an extension of the Korean brand), but then I suppose it’s the price we pay for expecting our apps to be free.

Indeed, other parts of the Unlike service also seem to be dictated by corporate hands. The Avant/Garde diaries, an appealing idea (to document avant-garde aspects of cities through the eyes of respected artists, musicians and other noteworthy innovators) - and one that produces genuinely interesting videos - is a Mercedes project (although to be fair, the company’s hand here is almost entirely invisible).

Is Unlike the future of city guides? The internet generation wants everything for nothing, so it is possible that we will all soon be planning our trips abroad using lifestyle apps that are paid for by large corporations. I would in no way conclude that Unlike have sold their editorial freedom, but the smooth, consumerist vision of the city that such companies demand can sometimes be a little sinister.

More info
Currently (and unsurprisingly), the app is only available on Android systems, but apparently an iPhone version is 'relaunching' soon.



PS: This is not a sponsored post - I am simply interested in how Paris is represented in books, websites, and apps. If you
have a Paris related service or book you would like me to review - in a completely independent manner - drop me a line.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Something else for the weekend

A bit of an overspill this weekend as I have forgotten several important events!

The Salon de la Photo
This weekend sees the first important photography event of the season, a large-scale exhibition at the Paris Expo in the Porte de Versailles. Divided between art and technology, it covers everything the photography fan could want or need.

Best of all, visit this link for a free entrance pass!

Animal Expo
Another exhibition, but this time a lot more kitsch! Held at the Parc Floral - always worth a visit at weekends - it is celebrating its 20th edition in the company of over 20,000 animals. So what makes it kitsch? The 'best of breed' cat show is a riot of carefully groomed moggies, but for the non-cat lovers you'll also be able to see
skating and singing dogs!

Portes d'Or
On many weekends across the year, the artists of different districts of Paris open the doors of their studios to curious visitors. This weekend it is the artists of the Goutte d'Or, between Barbes and Montmartre, who will be showing off their creations - and their courtyards and apartments!

With the Vendanges de Montmartre also taking place this weekend, it will be a good opportunity to take in both events.

Les Puces du Design
Fan of twentieth century design? For its 25th edition, the biggest design 'flea market' in Paris moves away from the Bassin de la Villette to take up residence in Bercy Village.

If I have forgotten anything else, don't forget to add the event in the comments below!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Something for the Weekend (7th - 9th October)

With the end of the unseasonal weather, we can say perhaps that autumn truly begins this weekend. To cheer you up, here's a selection of interesting events around the city that should nevertheless encourage you to get out and about.


A Spider Show
Not a show for the faint-hearted perhaps, but one that may just help even the most extreme arachnophobic to see another side to our eight-legged friends. The "Au fil des Araignées" show at the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle tries to change the public perception of the spider as a terrifying little menace, by showing exactly the valuable role it plays in our eco-systems. On top of that, large-scale photos will also try to convince us that they can sometimes be beautiful too!

See the official website, complete with animated creepy-crawlies, here:

Daily (except Tuesday) from 10am to 6pm, entrance from €7 to €9
Muséum d'Histoire naturelle, 36 rue Geoffroy St-Hilaire, M°Gare d'Austerlitz/Jussieu
Until July 2nd 2012

Fete des Vendanges in Montmartre
This year's wine harvest in Montmartre is being celebrated under the theme of 'the islands', bringing a distinctly carribean feel to the butte. Apparently this is the third most widely attended event of the year in Paris after Paris Plages and the Nuit Blanche, so expect big crowds, especially for the parade on Sunday at 3pm.

Until Sunday 9th, at various spots around Montmartre

Paris Burlesque Festival

Viva Las Vegas is the theme of this third edition of the festival, meaning an ambience of casinos and caberets at the Bellevilloise venue. As well as the traditional performances and 'burlesque' lessons for willing amateurs, there will also be a series of conferences. Most interesting amongst these will be a walk around the caberets of Montmartre on Sunday morning with the coolest historian/DJ in the city, Sylvanie de Lutèce! Places are limited, but you can try your luck by reserving via

Paris - proche et lointain

Photographer Patrick Faigenbaum, born in Paris in 1954, has long had a passion for the city. Proche et lointain (near and far), his exhibition at the Musée de la Vie Romantique, describes both his personal and geographical links to Paris.

Including family shots, views around the city, snaps of the suburbs to the east, west, north and south, and pictures of the city taken from a distance (Saint-Germain-en-Laye), it's a pictorial love affair with Paris - displayed in the most 'romantic' spot in the city!

Until February 12th
Musée de la Vie romantique

Hôtel Scheffer-Renan
16 rue Chaptal, 75009

L'hôtel particulier - une ambition parisienne
This new exhibition at the Cité de l'Architecture in the Palais Chaillot (Trocadero) aims to tell the history of Paris by tracing the development of large townhouses across the various districts of the city. On Saturdays, the exhibition is enlarged with film screenings on the theme of 'la maison de ville au cinema'. First up are short documentaries about some of the featured houses, and these are followed by a different film each week, including The Magnificent Ambersons, Reversal of Fortune and Dangerous Liaisons.

More details :

Take a Break from Paris

Barcelona in Bibracte

Bibracte, in the Burgundy region of France, is an ancient Gaullois capital which is today something of an archeological theme park. Every two years a festival, Réperages, is organised which aims to celebrate the culture of a major European city. After Prague, Budapest and Istanbul, this year Barcelona is the chosen city, which means music, dance and cinema, as well as tapas and a giant paella! A good opportunity to explore this interesting site.

Although not especially far from Paris, it can be tricky to get to on public transport. For the weekend of the festival though, buses will ferry passengers to and from the nearest train stations. Full details at the address below:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Residency looking for willing artists

VINGT Paris, a curious mix between real estate and arts listings based in Paris, is attempting to combine the two spheres by offering artists the opportunity to live and work in Paris for a month rent-free in one of the company’s managed apartments.

Until October 19, 2011, candidates, artists of all mediums, are asked to submit portfolio, written
motivation and proposals to to be considered for the project. The goal is to encourage artistic creation in Paris by offering residencies throughout the year in a paid‐for Parisian apartment as well as the opportunity to showcase work at a final event as defined by the artist, and profiled in the VINGT Paris Magazine.

For this launch residency, the artist will stay in the 15th arrondissement in a 15m2 apartment from November 20th to December 20th, and will work closely with the VINGT Paris Presents curator to create the final event. However, it should be pointed out that the artist will need to pay for other expenses including travel, food, and supplies.

If you are interested or know somebody else who may be, full details on the application process and an overview can be found on