Springtime returns to Paris in March and April, bringing a wealth of events with it. There will be new exhibitions, activities for children and large-scale popular events. Here is our list of not-to-miss events!
From 1 March 2020, runners will be starting off the month on the right foot by assembling at the Bois de Vincennes for Harmonie Mutuelle Semi de Paris, a half-marathon. Nearly 40,000 people gather in the French capital to run the 21.1 km marathon. The capital’s most iconic monument puts on a race of its own, known as the Verticale de la Tour Eiffel challenge, on 11 March 2020. 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 on 5 April with the 44rd edition of the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, one of the world’s top races. Drawing nearly 50,000 participants in 2019, it is run over a 42 km stretch through some of the top Paris sights, including the Champs-Élysées, Concorde and the Eiffel Tower.
Mark your calendars: the 11th edition of Saut Hermès will take place from 20 to 22 March 2020. This prestigious show jumping event drawing the finest riders from around the world will be held in a sumptuous setting, the Grand Palais
In spring, the Dimanches au Galop event, which introduces youngsters to the world of horse racing, is held at the Auteuil and ParisLongchamp racecourses on several Sundays over a period of nearly two months (from 5 April to 24 May 2020).
Basketball, rugby, martial arts and motorsport
No rugby fan will want to miss the final match of the Six Nations Championship on 14 March 2020. France will face Ireland at the Stade de France in the last game of this annual competition.
Fans of combat sport take note. The 35th Martial Arts Festival starts on 21 March 2020 at the AccorHotels Arena, with as many as 10,000 spectators expected to attend.
Basketball will also be on the programme at the AccorHotels Arena in April, with an exhibition match by the Harlem Globetrotters on 4 April 2020 and the finals of the French Basketball Cup on 24 and 25 April 2020.
On 18 April 2020, the 5th edition of the E-Prix de Paris all-electric car race will take place on a 1.9km-long circuit around the Invalides.
On 20 April, vintage car fans will flock to the nave of the Grand Palais to admire the vehicles chosen to take part in the 29th edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2000 before they hit the road. This year the spotlight will be on Porsche prototypes.
The Musée Jacquemart-André is showcasing the work of English Romantic art’s greatest landscapist J.M.W. Turner from 13 March to 20 July 2020, with a display of 60 watercolours and a dozen oil paintings.
Christo’s project to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in September 2020 coincides with an exhibition at the Pompidou Centre devoted to the work of the conceptual artist and his wife (and collaborator). Christo et Jeanne-Claude (from 18 March to 15 June 2020) focuses on the installations and monumental artworks the couple created in Paris from 1958 and 1964.
At the Musée d’Orsay, an exceptional James Tissot retrospective (from 24 March to 19 July 2020) is likely to cause quite a stir. This ensemble of portraits of Paris society, contemporary scenes and Biblical art created by the artist and painter working in the latter half of the 19th century is slated to be one of the year’s major exhibitions.
Another must-see is the Pompéi (Pompeii) exhibition at the Grand Palais (from 25 March to 8 June 2020). This immersive experience takes visitors on a journey into one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world (also a UNESCO world heritage site). 3D projections and sound and visual effects have been used to recreate the ancient town and the bustle of daily life in Pompeii’s heyday, and to allow visitors to relive the horrific moment when the volcano erupted.
Three exhibitions focusing on Pablo Picasso are being held in March/April. Picasso Comics and Picasso Poète at the Musée Picasso (from 31 March to 26 July 2020) unveil two lesser-known aspects of the artist’s work – his passion for comics and his poetry. A third exhibition at the Philharmonie de Paris, titled Les Musiques de Picasso (from 3 April 2020) examines the importance of music in the work of the master.
Man Ray is the spotlight at the Musée du Luxembourg (from 9 April 2020) in an exceptional exhibition devoted to the great 1920s photographer, whose artistic ideas changed the face of fashion photography.
The Grande Halle de la Villette’s upcoming exhibition Révolutions (from 22 April 2020) is a journey back in time. In the late 1960s, ideological shifts and cultural, social and artistic transformations changed the world forever. This show reviews such epoch-making events as the May 1968 demonstrations in Paris, San Francisco’s Summer of Love and the Woodstock music festival.
Spring 2020 will also see the reopening of the Musée Carnavalet after several years of renovation work – a good reason to revisit this venue focusing on the history of Paris, from the city’s origins to our time.
From 14 March to 10 May 2020, the Centquatre is holding the 10th edition of Circulation(s), a festival devoted to the work of young European photographers. The programme includes exhibitions, round table discussions and screenings – and, what’s more, a pop-up photography studio at the weekend, where you can have your portraits taken by professional photographers.
From 2 to 5 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 some 140 galleries from 20 countries exhibiting. This year’s edition places the focus on the vibrant French art scene and unveils the creativity of artists in four Southern European cities – Barcelona, Lisbon, Madrid and Porto. Another very popular event is PAD Paris Art + Design at the Tuileries from 1 to 5 April.
From 20 April to 19 July, Centquatre will be holding the 8th edition of Circulation(s), a festival devoted to young contemporary photographers. The programme features exhibitions, round table discussions, screenings and more – not least a photo studio (over the weekend) where you can have your portrait taken by a professional photographer.
To admire the work of emerging artists, head for the Salon de Montrouge: the 65th edition is on from 25 April to 20 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 25 to 30 March, Drawing Now Paris, the contemporary drawing show, at the Carreau du Temple from 26 to 29 March.
In April, there’s plenty to do in Paris with the kids during the school holidays.
The beautiful princess from the Disney film Frozen is on a visit to Disneyland® Paris until 3 May 2020. The accompanying festivities, titled ‘Frozen Celebration’, include ‘The Snow Queen 2: An Enchanting Journey’, a brand-new parade featuring all the characters from the animated film, as well as an all-new show: ‘Frozen: A Musical Invitation’.
Meanwhile, older visitors will enjoy visiting an exhibition titled Espions (Spies). Inspired by the French TV series Bureau des Légendes (The Bureau), the exhibition provides an immersive journey into the daily lives of secret service agents (on until 9 August 2020) at la Cité des Sciences.
This year, Easter Sunday falls on 12 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
Funfair, fairs and trade shows
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. Considered the biggest fair in all of Europe, it has attractions galore, and plenty of surprises in store.
Whether or not you have a tattoo, you’ll enjoy seeing the work of the some of the world’s best tattoo artists at the Paris Tattoo Convention show at the Grande Halle de La Villette (from 13 to 15 March 2020).
From 6 to 12 April 2020, the European Artistic Craft Days will showcase the work of the finest craftspeople in Paris and the Ile de France region. The programme includes exhibitions, workshops and live demonstrations.
For shopping with an innovative twist, don’t miss the Foire de Paris from 30 April to 11 May. Visited by nearly 500,000 people, this is Europe’s biggest fair!
Also on the calendar this spring: the 100% organic show Vivre autrement at the Parc floral de Paris (from 12 to 15 March) and the Destinations Nature show at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles (from 20 to 23 March).
Music and shows
March and April have plenty of superstar concerts in store, with something to suit all musical tastes, from pop to electronic music and rap. Here’s what you can look forward to: Onerepublic (2 March 2020), Morcheeba (15 March 2020) and IAM (24 April 2020) at the Olympia; Avril Lavigne (26 March 2020) and Jean-Louis Aubert (23 and 24 April 2020) at the Zénith; Metronomy (14 to 17 April 2020) at La Cigale … plus, on the classical music front, recitals by Maxim Vengerov (26 March 2020) and Murray Perahia (3 April 2020) at the Philharmonie de Paris.
The opera Don Giovanni will be performed at the Palais Garnier (from 21 March to 24 April 2020), while the Théâtre du Châtelet will present Seven Deadly Sins. Dance evening by Pina Bausch from 24 to 29 March 2020. Soy de Cuba, an electrifying Cuban music and dance spectacular, will be on at the Casino de Paris from 28 April 2020.
Equestrian artistry is on the cards too, in two upcoming shows: Mario Luraschi’s Fascination at the Palais des Sports (from 20 to 22 March 2020) and Stravinsky, the new creation from Bartabas and the National Equestrian Academy of Versailles (from 20 to 26 April 2020) at the Grande Halle de la Villette.
Springtime in Paris is also a time for festivals, with themes ranging from music and art to food.
In March, movie lovers can take advantage of a new edition of the Printemps du cinéma to see a film: for three whole days, you can buy a ticket for any show of any movie at any cinema for just 4 euros (from to 19 March)!
From 26 March to 14 April, the multi-disciplinary festival 100 %, mixing theatre, dance, circus arts, music and contemporary art, will be back at La Villette.
Relive the heyday of the reign of Louis XIV with the Musical Fountains Show at Versailles (4 April-1 November) and the Musical Gardens Show (from 7 April onwards).
And for those who like a head on their beer, the Planète Bière Paris is back for a new edition at the Cité de la Mode et du Design (5 = 6 April 2020).