Springtime returns to Paris in March and April, bringing a wealth of events in its wake. There will be major sporting events, new exhibitions, activities for children and large-scale popular events – from the Art Paris Art Fair to the Mois de la photo du Grand Paris (photography month), not to mention the Paris semi-marathon, Fitbit and the opening of the new arts complex La Seine Musicale on the Ile Seguin. Here is our list of not-to-miss events!
From 5 March, runners will be starting off the month on the right foot
Runners will be starting off the month on the right foot by assembling at the Bois de Vincennes on 5 March for the Fitbit Paris half-marathon. Nearly 40,000 people gather in the French capital to run the 21.1 km marathon. On 16 March, the French capital’s most iconic monument will enter the fray, hosting the Verticale de la Tour Eiffel challenge. The goal is to be the fastest to climb the Eiffel Tower’s 1,665 steps.
The month of April has its own running event, with the 41th edition of the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, one of the world’s top races, taking place on the 9th. Drawing nearly 57,000 participants each year, it is run over a 42-km stretch through some of the top Paris sights, including the Champs-Élysées, Concorde and the Eiffel Tower.
Runners of all levels have their very own trade show, the Salon du Running, from 6 to 8 April at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. Drawing more than 90,000 visitors, this is the biggest fair devoted to a single sport in France.
Fans of equestrian events ?
Mark your calendars: 17, 18 and 19 March are the dates for the 8th edition of the Saut Hermès, the prestigious show jumping competition, where you can see the world’s finest riders in action in the magnificent setting of the Grand Palais. In March, the Dimanche au Galop (Sunday at the races) event takes over the Auteuil and Saint-Cloud racecourses for nearly the entire month.
Rugby, martial arts, vintage car fans
Fans of Bruce Lee movies take note: the 32nd Festival des Arts martiaux opens on 25 March at AccorHotels Arena, and is expected to draw roughly 10,000 martial arts enthusiasts.
On 24 April, vintage car fans will flock to the nave of the Grand Palais to admire the vehicles chosen to take part in the 26th edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2000 before they hit the road. The display will include classic gems that have long since gone out of production, from brands like Simca, René Bonnet, Delahaye and Facel Vega.
Spring is a fertile season for exhibitions, with a succession of major art events. No doubt about it, Paris is the perfect setting for spectacular exhibitions.
March gets off to a great start
With an exhibition at the Musée Maillol bearing the same title as Anne Sinclair’s autobiography, 21 rue La Boétie (published in France by Grasset & Fasquelle in 2012), March gets off to a great start. In the book, the well-known journalist describes the life of her grandfather Paul Rosenberg, one of the most influential art dealers of the 20th century. The book inspired this exhibition of around 60 masterpieces by great artists such as Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Léger and Marie Laurencin.
And that’s not all – there’s another headline event straight afterwards for art lovers to enjoy. From 3 March to 10 July, the Musée Jacquemart-André is hosting From Zurbarán to Rothko. Alicia Koplowitz Collection. This display of nearly 50 artworks from the Alicia Koplowitz collection features both historic and modern masterpieces by the likes of Tiepolo, Canaletto, Guardi, Goya, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Modigliani and Giacometti. It is a must-see exhibition: many of the works will be on display to the public for the very first time.
When you’ve recovered from that breath-taking display, you’ll find there’s more splendour in store, with another of the year’s top events.
To mark the centenary of Rodin’s death, the Grand Palais is paying tribute to the great sculptor with a magnificent exhibition, Rodin. L’exposition du centenaire. (title to be confirmed). Running from 22 March to 31 July, it casts new light on the master’s work, assembling works by Rodin as well as his contemporaries (Bourdelle, Claudel, Brancusi, Picasso etc.) from various collections. Meanwhile, the Musée Rodin has decided to celebrate the centenary by giving carte blanche to Anselm Kiefer. The resulting exhibition, Regards croisés (from 14 March), offers a striking reinterpretation of Rodin’s work by the renowned German contemporary artist.
Chefs-d’œuvre du Bridgestone Museum of Art de Tokyo
From 5 April, the Musée de l’Orangerie will take its place in the spotlight with Tokyo-Paris. Masterpieces from the Bridgestone Museum of Art, Collection Ishibashi Foundation. This exhibition showcases paintings by a variety of artists, both Western and Eastern, in styles ranging from Impressionist to abstract: Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Pollock and Shiraga, among others.
Picasso will be back on the programme this year, with two new exhibitions opening in spring.
The Musée Picasso examines how the artist’s first wife, the dancer Olga Khokhlova, influenced his work with an exhibition titled Olga Picasso (from 21 March).
The Petit Palais offers an overview of 18th-century French art with two simultaneous exhibitions.
Le Baroque des Lumières. Chefs-d’œuvre des églises parisiennes, opening on 21 March, displays the pictorial treasures in the collections of various churches in the French capital, while De Watteau à David, la collection Horvitz showcases 250 paintings, drawings and sculptures dating to the 18th century, drawn from the holdings of American collector Jeffrey Horvitz.
With spring around the corner, it’s no surprise that so many upcoming exhibitions have Nature-related themes.
From 15 March, the Jardins exhibition at the Grand Palais offers a sweeping overview of landscape painting from the Renaissance to our day, with works by a variety of artists including Dürer, David, Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and Magritte. From 16 March, the Musée du Luxembourg Sénat is hosting Pissarro à Éragny. L’anarchie et la nature, with works by the Impressionist master during his final years in a village in the Oise, not far from Paris.
The Musée d’Orsay is also hosting a nature-themed exhibition, though with a more mystical focus. Au-delà des étoiles. Le paysage mystique de Monet à Kandinsky gives visitors an introduction to depictions of Nature in paintings by Gauguin, Denis, Hodler, Klimt, Munch and Van Gogh, and Canadian painters like Tom Thomson and Emily Carr.
Does painting mirror the soul? ‘Your soul is a chosen landscape,’ the great French poet Paul Verlaine once wrote. Until 24 April, the Pompidou Centre is hosting a retrospective of Cy Twombly. The work of this unclassifiable American artist – explosions of colour, amorphous shapes, tangled skeins, scribblings and scratched-out lines – reflects a rich interior landscape.
In April, the Musée de la vie romantique will turn into an exquisite garden filled with lovely colours. The exhibition Pierre-Joseph Redouté et le goût des fleurs showcases the work of the most renowned botanical artist of all time. It’s an opportunity to admire the delicate watercolours painted by the man who was once described as ‘the Raphael of flowers’. You’ll marvel at their beauty.
Exhibitions in Paris take you on a journey into the world’s different cultures.
France has always been at the crossroads of manydifferent cultures. The Italian influence has been felt strongly ever since the arrival in the second half of the 19th century of many Italians who came to France in search of work. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Italian migration to France, the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration is the place to go: from 28 March, it is hosting an exhibition titled Ciao Italia ! Un siècle d’immigration italienne en France (1860-1960).
The Grand Palais is focusing on India, with a sparkling display of sumptuous jewellery from the Mughal period to our day. The exhibition Royale extravagance : joyaux indiens de la collection Al-Thani opens on 29 March. The Mona Bismarck American Center on the other hand will be exploring representations of African and African-American beauty with the exhibition Posing Beauty in African American Culture (from 9 March).
Fashion, too, is outward looking this season. In March, the Palais Galliera will inaugurate its Spanish season with an off-site exhibition titled Balenciaga : L’œuvre au noir at the Musée Bourdelle, which examines why the colour black is so predominant in the designer’s work. From 27 April, the museum puts the great singer Dalida centre stage. Born in Egypt into an Italian family, the singer, who was a superstar in France, died 30 years ago. The Palais Galliera is marking the anniversary of her death with an exhibition of some of her most beautiful outfits. A fashion icon, she was dressed by the greatest couturiers, among them Carven, Balmain and Yves Saint Laurent.
Art exhibitions are also focusing on far horizons in April.
The Musée Cernuschi will be hosting Lee Ungno (1904-1989), l’homme des foules, an exhibition (open until September) devoted to one of the greatest Asian painters of the 19th century. Korean-born Lee Ungno’s paintings were strongly influenced by calligraphy, and often feature men and crowds.
Having hosted a number of successful exhibitions, notably ‘David Bowie’, which drew 200,000 visitors, the Philharmonie de Paris is taking visitors off to the Caribbean to examine the multiple facets of Jamaican music, often associated solely with reggae. Jamaica Jamaica ! will open to visitors (music included!) from 4 April.
Movies and architecture are also on the exhibition calendar this spring. Indulge in a bout of nostalgia at the Cinémathèque française, which explores the connections between childhood and cinema at the exhibition Les Enfants du cinéma (from 29 March). La Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine for its part will be hosting L’architecte, portraits… et clichés from 21 April. This exhibition explores the architect’s trade – a subject most people know little about – from Antiquity to our day.
April is a great month for photography fans, with a major event devoted entirely to this art: the Mois de la photo du Grand Paris. Originally launched in 1980, ‘photography month’ will take on a whole new dimension in 2017, with a new name, new dates and new spaces. It has been moved from November to April, and will now be held not just in Paris but throughout the Ile-de-France region. The programme features no fewer than 80 exhibitions in Greater Paris as well as a number of related events.
Another photography-related event to check out in April is the Auto Photo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. It looks at the ways cars have been photographed over the years, displaying 400 works by photographers such as Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Ed Ruscha, Lee Friedlander and Jacqueline Hassink. And, from 26 April, the Pompidou Centre is hosting a retrospective of the great American documentary photographer Walker Evans.
From 30 March to 2 April, aficionados will flock to spring’s big art event: Art Paris Art Fair. The four-day event will be held at the Grand Palais, with 140-odd galleries from 20 countries exhibiting. Africa is the theme of this year’s edition. Another very popular event is PAD Paris Art + Design at the Tuileries from 22 to 26 March. Contemporary art enthusiasts will also been keen to visit the Grand Marché d’art contemporain on Place de la Bastille from 27 April to 1 May.
To admire the work of emerging artists, head for the Salon de Montrouge: the 62nd edition is on from 27 April to 24 May at the Beffroi de Montrouge (92) cultural centre. Focusing on young artists, the event has become a must-see for art insiders. It provides a launching pad for promising artists. It was here that Felice Varini and Hervé Di Rosa were first spotted.
Another big art-related event in March is the Semaine du dessin, when many venues in Paris and Ile-de-France put the spotlight on drawing. Other not-to-miss events: the Salon du dessin at Palais Brongniart from 22 to 27 March, Drawing Now Paris, the contemporary drawing show, at the Carreau du Temple from 23 to 26 March, and DDESSINPARIS, to be held at Atelier Richelieu from 24 to 26 March.
In April, there’s plenty to do in Paris with the kids during the school holidays.
Step into the magical world of Disneyland® Paris which is celebrating its 25th anniversary from 26 March 2017. The festive programme includes new attractions ‘Star Tours the Adventure Continues’ and ‘Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain’, the Disney Stars on Parade with new floats and costumes, spectacular shows, the new sound and light ‘Disney Illuminations’, a grand anniversary ceremony orchestrated by Mickey in person, and lots more surprises!
From 4 to 9 April, Disney on Ice will be back at the Zénith Paris with La Reine des Neiges, an entrancing, enchanting show that will appeal to both children and adults.
If you’d like to take your kids on an unusual and poetic walk through Paris, don’t miss Troublantes Apparences, a series of puppet shows in the windows of many shops in the city. It’s an artistic and entertaining way to window shop, and free to watch from 20 to 22 April.
The focus is on children at Bercy Village during Kids, Let’s Play. This day-long festival features entertaining workshops and shows and even a party just for kids.
There’s no shortage of exhibitions to visit with your children. Two exhibitions on at the Palais de la découverte until 27 August will appeal to scientifically minded kids. Faites vos jeux ! Quand les maths s'en mêlent focuses on mathematics, while Viral. Du microbe au fou rire, tout s’attrape examines the theme of infections. Young history buffs can journey back in time to the Middle Ages at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, which is hosting an exhibition titled Quoi de neuf au Moyen Âge ? until 6 August.
Take your budding artists to the Petite Galerie at the Louvre. The arts and culture education section of the Louvre is celebrating its second season by inviting young visitors and their parents to look at representations of moving bodies in 70 artworks at an exhibition titled Corps en mouvement (until 3 July).
This year, Easter Sunday falls on 16 April, and there will be egg hunts for children in many different parts of the French capital. Bring your baskets!
For more information, see our ‘Easter in Paris’ section
Springtime is funfair season, and children in Paris look forward in particular to the Foire du Trône, which will be back on the Pelouse de Reuilly from 31 March to 5 June. Considered the biggest fair in all of Europe, it has attractions galore, and plenty of surprises in store.
Fairs and trade shows
March is the month when Paris’s two major literary events take place: the Printemps des Poètes, from 4 to 19 March, and the Paris Book Fair, now called Livre Paris, from 24 to 27 March. For shopping with an innovative twist, don’t miss the Foire de Paris from 29 April to 8 May. This is Europe’s biggest fair!
Then there’s the tattoo fair Mondial du Tatouage and the dance fair Le Salon de la Danse, Let’s Dance in March at the Grande Halle de la Villette. Also on the calendar this spring: the 100% organic show Vivre autrement at the Parc floral de Paris and the wine trade’s Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants at the Espace Champerret.
People with a sweet tooth will be tempted to visit the Salon Sugar Paris at the Parc floral (20 to 22 April) while, at the end of April, Musicora 2017 at the La Grande Halle de La Villette will boast France’s biggest display of musical instruments. Calling all vegans: VeggieWorld, the biggest vegan event in France, will be held at the 104 on 22 and 23 April.
Music and shows
A number of big names will be playing concerts in Paris in March and April, with genres spanning metal, R’n’B and rock. Drake will be playing the AccorHotels Arena on 12 and 13 March. If French pop is more your style, you’ll have a hard time choosing between Kendji Girac, Christophe Mae, M Pokora and Julien Doré.
Avenged Sevenfold will have the crowds in a frenzy at AccorHotels Arena on 2 March, with KoRn taking over at the Zénith Paris on 20 March. German band Tokio Hotel will perform at the Olympia on 21 March. And cover band The Australian Pink Floyd Show will be putting on their tribute to Pink Floyd at the Palais des Congrès on 18 March.
Nostalgic for the 80s? You’ll be pleased to hear the musical Stars 80 - 10 Ans déjà ! will be back at the Zénith Paris from 13 to 15 April.
If you’re a figure skating fan, don’t miss ‘Time’, the new Holiday on Ice show (from 3 to 23 March).
April will mark the inauguration of La Seine Musicale. This vast arts complex designed by architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines on the Ile Seguin has both a 6,000-seater concert hall and an auditorium, which will host classical music, jazz and world music concerts as well as shows featuring a combination of music and videos. This exceptional venue also has artist-in-residence spaces and a 7,000m² garden.
Springtime in Paris is also a time for festivals, with themes ranging from music and art to food. The 12th edition of the Omnivore at the Maison de la Mutualité will get things rolling on 5, 6 and 7 March: three entire days devoted to young chefs with master classes, dinners, workshops and tasting sessions.
Fans of break dance and other acrobatic moves can also look forward to March: the final of the international hip-hop contest Juste Debout is slated for 5 March at AccorHotels Arena.
From 22 March to 9 April, the multi-disciplinary festival 100 %, mixing theatre, dance, circus arts, music and contemporary art, will be back at La Villette. And, to hear the music that’s hot right now, check out the 29th edition of the Chorus des Hauts-de-Seine festival, on in La Défense in April.
From 19 to 21 March, film buffs will be at the movies full-time during the 17th Printemps du cinema. For three whole days, you can buy a ticket for any show of any movie at any cinema for just 4 euros!
History buffs can hark back to the splendour of Louis XIV’s reign with the musical fountain display Les Grandes Eaux Musicales at Versailles (From end of March)