With the return of sunshine and milder temperatures, Paris will be playing host to numerous open-air events, including the French Open (at Roland Garros), the European Night of Museums and the Fête de la Musique. There’s something for everyone!
All kinds of music
Outdoors, jazz, free concerts, theatre festival...
In May and June, some heavy-duty festivals take centre stage. From 25 to 30 May the 12th edition of Villette Sonique, the talent-unearthing festival, will be on at Parc de la Villette. Then it’s time for the sustainable We Love Green festival, with its forest setting, the Bois de Vincennes.
As for jazz, Paris will be hosting two not-to-miss events: the 18th edition of the Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés festival on the Left Bank from 24 May to 04 June and, in June, the Paris Jazz Festival at the Parc Floral while, from 1st to 3rd June, Musicora 2018 at the La Grande Halle de La Villette will boast France’s biggest display of musical instruments.
Meanwhile, rock fans will be glad to hear that Britain’s Download Festival will be taking place for the second year in a row from 15 to 17 June in Brétigny-sur-Orge. Expect quite a few big names: Guns n'Roses, The Offspring and the Foo Fighters.
In June, a number of other festivals take place in various parts of Paris proper as well as the Ile-de-France region, including Onze Bouge (11th), LaPlage de Glazart (19th), Mini Opéra Côté Cour at Bercy Village (12th), Et 20 l'été (20th) and La Défense Jazz festival (92).
Not to be missed event : Fête de la Musique
The other major event at this time of year is the Fête de la Musique on 21 June, which heralds the start of summer. Besides big-name concerts in top Paris venues, amateur musicians of every stripe come out and perform. So, on the longest day of the year, there’s music in the air, with free concerts and street performers on every street.
Shows with music and outdoor opera
In May, everyone can go to the opera. The 12th edition of the Tous à l’opéra event on 5 and 6 May aims to broaden the appeal of opera by making it free to attend any performance at any of the participating venues throughout the weekend.
And from June to September (15 June to 8 September), during the Opéra en plein air event, a great opera from the classical repertoire is staged in open-air settings at prestigious sites throughout France. Meanwhile, the Palais Garnier will be staging Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’ from 10 June.
At the Palace of Versailles, the Fountains Night Show and the Royal Serenade in the Hall of Mirrors thrill the court of the Sun King (16 June – 15 September).
May and June have more than their fair share of interesting exhibitions.
At the Grande Halle de la Villette, contemporary creation always has a special place! The Japanese collective Teamlab puts a new spin on art with installations using new technology for an amazing immersive experience (15 May-9 Sept). At the end of May, the Centre Pompidou pays a new tribute to French modernism through the exhibition U.A.M, a modern adventure, 1929-1958, bringing together a huge variety of internationally-recognized artistic creations (30 May-27 August).
In early June, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is showing the exhibition Zao Wou-Ki: Space is Silence (from 1 June). This show explores the richness of the work of one of the most important Chinese painters and engravers.
At the Musée du Louvre, the focus is on the 18th century, the golden age of pastel painting in Europe, with the exhibition Pastels of the Musée du Louvre (7 June-10 September) featuring 120 exceptional works that reveal the complexity and fragility of this art. In mid-June, head to the Musée d’Orsay to see In Colour, polychrome sculpture in France 1850 to 1910. The question of applying colour to sculpture in the Second Empire and the influence of Art Nouveau are explored (11 June-23 September).
Other shows not to miss:
At the Cinémathèque Française, discover the work and travels of the tireless photographer and writer Chris Marker (2 May-29 July).
At the end of May, at the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, enjoy the stories of the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, the Famille Fenouillard or Phileas Fogg and Passepartout at the exhibition The Little Explorer’s Box of Delights (22 May-7 October).
In collaboration with the Tate Modern, the Petit Palais puts the Thames on Seine with the exhibition The Impressionists in London (1870-1904), a journey in the footsteps of the French painters exiled across the channel (from 21 June to 14 October).
With the arrival of good weather, sport takes off in Paris!
Tennis is the focus of attention with the French Open at Roland Garros, which attracts the world’s top tennis players at Porte d’Auteuil (from 21 May to 10 June). Also on the sporting calendar: the legendary Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, with 23 obstacles to be cleared, on 18 and 20 May at the Auteuil racecourse. And of course the Prix du Jockey Club will be back at the Chantilly racecourse on 3 June, followed on 17 June by the Prix de Diane Longines, France’s very own high society horse-racing event.
On 8 May, see out the month in style by heading to the Stade de France for the French Cup football final 2018. On 2 and 3 June, women footballers vie for the trophy in the Women’s French Cup Final (venue to be communicated later).
June is also a great month for sport, starting with the keenly awaited Rugby Top 14 Final at the Stade de France on Sunday 2 June to decide the top French club of the season. Finally, the Open de France is back at the Golf National de Guyancourt end of June.
See also ...
Fairs and trade shows in Paris
In May, museums open to night owls, with the European Museums Night (19 May). The first festival scheduled during these two months is the European Night of Museums on 19 May - a one-off opportunity to enjoy specially created afterhours events in a hundred-odd museums across the Ile-de-France region.
Design enthusiasts will be making their way this month to D’Days, in May. Various venues throughout the French capital host design-related events – exhibitions, workshops, discussions and so on – over this 12-day period.
Food lovers are also in for a treat in May, with the food fair Taste of Paris setting up its stall in the nave of the Grand Palais from 17 to 20 May. There will be a host of tasting sessions, chats with chefs and culinary events to enjoy.
Back at the Parc Zoologique de Paris, the Biodiversity trail, a sensory adventure invites visitors to rediscover the sensation of nature barefoot (from 30 May to 1 November)!
On 30 June 2018, the ‘Marche des fiertés lesbiennes, gaies, bi, trans et intersexes’ (gay pride parade) takes place in the capital. The parade, which defends equal rights for all regardless of gender or sexuality, is a colourful and festive event with high-voltage music, unusual costumes and some 50 community-based floats.
Concerts and shows
The Palais Garnier presents Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti (from 6 June to 12 July 2018) whilst the Opéra Bastille stages Heure espagnole by Maurice Ravel (from 17 May to 17 June). The National Opera of Urkraine brilliantly performs The marriage of Figaro at the Palais des Congrès de Paris (26-27 May).
Côté concerts, il y a de quoi faire et vous avez le choix entre de nombreux événements. For classical music enthusiasts, the brilliant pianist Mikhael Pletnev will give a concert at the Philharmonie de Paris (29 May), which has a big line-up of top orchestras to celebrate the arrival of summer: the Orchestre de Paris, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Debussy, Mahler, Brahms and Tchaikovsky will also be on the programme for summer at the Auditorium de la Maison de la Radio.
The Fête du Cinéma in late June is a chance to see films on a budget, as tickets cost only €4.
If you’re a fan of figure skating, you’ll enjoy watching the new Holiday on Ice extravaganza ‘Atlantis’, on from 22 to 27 May.
In June, the spectacular Ramin Djawadi, composer of Game Of Thrones is at the AccorHotels Arena (12 May). And you can also see Katy Perry (29-30 May) and Fast&Furious (29 June – 1 July).
In early June, Pestacles will be back at Parc Floral de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes, with a line-up of exciting events for kids: concerts, shows, circus acts and more. And, as family outings go, it’s hard to beat the Fête des Tuileries in late June – a funfair made up of 60-odd attractions in the very heart of Paris.
Exhibitions include: Festival Cité Interdite (12-13 May), at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, a magical journey in the footsteps of the greatest adventurers (12-13 May). Close by, at La Villette, also for kids, Journey to the Centre of the Earth recounts the classic story of Jules Vernes in dance (3-5 May), and the Royal Ballet of Cambodia will delight kids and grown-ups at the Philharmonie de Paris (18-19 May).
And for Disney fans, the biggest event will take place on the first weekend of June when FanDaze Inaugural Party gets the entire Parc Disneyland Paris singing.
Bargain hunters take note: the summer sales will get underway on 27 June. (27 June - 7 August). Expect reductions of up to 70% for six whole weeks. Everything must go!