What to do in Paris in January 2021

In January, Paris can be seen through the lens of fashion and cultural events.

Nota Bene - Covid

Paris hosts Fashion Week in January, with lots of fabulous events for style aficionados to enjoy. The city is a great shopping destination at any time of year, January in particular because it marks the start of the winter sales. Get ready to shop until you drop!

And there’s more! With a range of exhibitions, shows and sporting events on the programme, Paris can be enjoyed to the full even in the middle of winter. And although this year is somewhat different, it is no exception, and the world is adapting to the health crisis. So, if the museums reopen go along and see the major exhibitions of 2020 before they finish or take advantage of the opportunity to visit those that are new at the start of this year 2021. Whatever the situation may be, life goes on!

Events around fashion

Grands événements - janvier - soldes © Amélie Dupont

The fashion Week

In January each year, Paris is top dog on the catwalk during Fashion Week. On this occasion, the biggest names in fashion, celebrities and journalists flock to Paris to discover the new trends in ready-to-wear for men (from 19 to 24 January 2021) and haute couture (from 25 to 28 January 2021) for the next year. Whilst uncertainty remains as to whether or not to hold fashion shows in public, presentations of the creations will nevertheless go ahead via online fashion shows.

Also, if events take place, there will be some eye-catching sights around town, particularly in the vicinity of top Parisian venues like the Grand PalaisPalais Brongniart or the Palais de Tokyo, where you can easily spot famous faces including models and fashion designers. Keep an eye out!

Winter sales 2021

Fashion is of course related to shopping. And this is one area where Paris comes into its own. The city is a genuine shopping mecca. If you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe, pick up a must-have accessory or purchase the It-bag of the moment, there’s no better time for it. January, as all Paris fashionistas know, offers rich pickings with the start of the much-awaited winter sales on Wednesday the 20th until Tuesday 16 February 2021: four whole weeks of bargains, with reductions of up to 70%.

Key exhibitions in January 2021 in Paris

Affiche de l'exposition Gabrielle Chanel, Palais Galliera, Paris

Winter is the perfect time to catch up with all the current exhibitions – while staying warm indoors. Although museums have been closed for several weeks because of the health crisis, a number of them have adapted to the situation by offering online visits and highlighting upcoming major, surprising or original events. And it is highly likely that some will be prolonged to enable visitor to discover them as soon as museums reopen. Major exhibitions to look out for should establishments reopen in January:

-    The Olmecs and the Cultures of the Gulf of Mexico at the Musée du Quai Branly (until 25 July),
-    Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto at the Palais Galliera (until 14 March),
-    Arabian Divas. From Umm Kulthum to Dalida at the Institut du Monde Arabe (From 27 January 2021 to 25 July 2021),
-    Louis de Funès at the Cinémathèque (until 31 May 2021),
-    The Origins of the World. The Invention of Nature in the 19th Century at the Musée d’Orsay (until 2 May 2021),
-    Dali, the Endless Enigma at the Atelier des Lumières.

And some good news! This year 2021 the Musée Art Ludique at the Gare Saint-Lazare is due to open after 4 years of closure!

Other exhibitions that it is time to discover in Paris

If you haven't been to some of the major exhibitions of 2020, and if museums reopen in January, don’t miss: 

-    Matisse, Like a Novel at the Centre Pompidou until 22 February 2021
-    Turner, Paintings and Watercolours from the Tate at the Musée Jacquemart-André until 11 January 2021
-    Man Ray and Fashion at the Musée du Luxembourg until 17 January 2021
-    Advent of the Artist at La Petite Galerie du Louvre until 5 July 2021,
-    Exhibition Noir et Blanc: A photographic aesthetic at the Grand Palais until 1 February 2021.

Parisian concerts and shows in January 2021

Sir Simon Rattle - Berg/Beethoven à la Philharmonie

Due to the health crisis, most concerts and shows programmed for January 2021 will have to be cancelled or postponed. However, it is possible to discover shows online thanks to cultural institutions that are doing their utmost to keep culture alive. Of note, the programmes of the:

-    Comédie-Française (live or recorded plays),
-    Philharmonie (concerts),
-    Opéra National de Paris (operas and ballets in VOD).

Some comedians have also decided the show must go on, like Olivier Giraud with his famous one man show ‘How to become a Parisian in one hour?’ or Pierre-Emmanuel Barré whose show can be seen online for a small fee, Kyan Khojandi and his show ‘Pulsion’ accessible on YouTube, the show ‘Public Imaginaire’ by Norah Hamzawi, available in podcast on France Inter.

Trade shows, festivals and other events in Paris

Africa season 2020

Postponed due to the health crisis, Africa season 2020 will be going ahead in 2021! On the programme? An astonishing cross-disciplinary showcase of the wealth of 54 African countries. Arts, sciences, gastronomy, culture, heritage, design … Some 450 projects are planned to be shown across Paris until July 2021!

Events around literature

The 5th edition of Nuit de la Lecture (Reading night) will delight literary fans. Organized in a similar way to the Museums at Night, this event helps to make reading more accessible. In previous years, libraries and bookshops opened their doors for this unique evening to share their enthusiasm through specially organized events. Each venue will once again try to captivate the public while respecting health regulations.

Digital trade shows ... or on site

For the moment, it is impossible to hold trade fairs with large crowds, so the major events of the year have to adapt to the current situation. The trade show Maison et Objet will be held in a virtual format between January and March with Digital Days by sector and theme and the possibility of a physical trade show from 26 to 30 March 2021. For photography fans, Photo Days will be available online and in galleries until 6 February 2021.

The vintage car festival

This month the focus is on fashion, and cars too will be setting out in all their finery for the Traversée de Paris hivernale (on 31 January 2021): a superb parade of vintage cars through the streets of the capital.