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 6 to 9 June the 13th 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 16 to 27 May and, in June, the Paris Jazz Festival at the Parc Floral ( 30 June to 22 July) while, from 03 to 05 May, Musicora 2019 at the La Grande Halle de La Villette will boast France’s biggest display of musical instruments.
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 13th edition of the Tous à l’opéra event on 3 and 5 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, 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 (15 June – 14 September).
May and June have more than their fair share of interesting exhibitions.
The Louvre will set the ball rolling with an archaeology-focused exhibition, Royaumes oubliés - Les héritiers de l’empire hittite (Forgotten Kingdoms: Heirs of the Hittite Empire) from 2 May to 12 August. An even more ancient period in history is being spotlighted in an exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, unusually enough for a museum devoted to contemporary art: La Préhistoire (Prehistory), on from 8 May to 16 September. Cave art did after all inspire some of the greatest names in modern art, among them Picasso, Miró, Klein, Giacometti and Dubuffet.
At the Orangerie, a set of canvases displaying the American painter Alex Katz’s fresh take on Monet’s Water Lilies can be admired from 14 May to 2 September. His near-abstract water lilies pay a modern and evocative tribute to the work of the Impressionist master. The creative universe of another great painter will be on display at the museum devoted to his work – the Musée National Eugène Delacroix – in an exhibition titled Dans l’atelier, la création à l’oeuvre (In the Atelier: The Creative Impulse and the Artwork).
As summer gets underway, the Pompidou Centre will be presenting two new monographic exhibitions: the first featuring the work of Bernard Frize, which is dominated by recurring abstract patterns (from 29 May to 26 August), and the second devoted to photographs by Picasso’s muse Dora Maar, a creative powerhouse in her own right (from 5 June to 29 July).
The Musée d’Orsay will be paying its own tribute to a female artist with an unprecedented retrospective of Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). Though not as well-known as her Impressionist friends Degas, Renoir and Monet, Berthe Morisot left behind a significant body of work largely composed of intimate portraits of female subjects.
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 26 May to 09 June). Also on the sporting calendar: the legendary Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, with 23 obstacles to be cleared, on 18 and 19 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 16 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 2019. (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 Saturday 15 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 (18 May). The first festival scheduled during these two months is the European Night of Museums on 18 May - a one-off opportunity to enjoy specially created afterhours events in a hundred-odd museums across the Ile-de-France region. To admire an exquisite array of arts and crafts, you should visit Révélations, the international fine craft and creation biennial, to be held from 23 to 26 May at the Grand Palais.
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 09 to 17 May. There will be a host of tasting sessions, chats with chefs and culinary events to enjoy. For people with a sweet tooth, there will be many delicious treats in store at the Salon de la Pâtisserie from 14 to 17 June at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles.
Movies are in the limelight in June. If you’re a film lover on a budget, don’t miss the Fête du Cinéma, where a cinema ticket costs only €4.
On 29 June 2019, 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
May and June are great months to enjoy all the concerts and shows on the Paris events calendar.
Legendary rock band Metallica are set to take the Stade de France by storm on 12 May, while Giorgio Moroder, the Italian king of disco, will be live at the Grand Rex on 22 May. AccorHotels Arena is hosting concerts by two legendary performers: Lenny Kravitz (5 June) and Elton John (20 June).
Dance fans will have an opportunity to admire the work of Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui performed by the Royal Ballet Flanders at the Grande Halle de la Villette (from 26 to 29 June).
And the Opéra Bastille is staging a beloved classic, an absolute must-see: Mozart’s The Magic Flute, performed by the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra National de Paris (from 27 April to 15 June).
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.
For budding astronauts, there are astronomy workshops at the Planétarium at the Palais de la Découverte: a great opportunity to learn how eclipses, stars, galaxies, the Moon and the solar system work.
In springtime, Disneyland Paris will shine a spotlight on superheroes with an event called the Marvel Season of Superheroes (from 23 March to 16 June). There will be lots of shows and live events for kids and adults to enjoy
Bargain hunters take note: the summer sales will get underway on 26 June. (26 June - 24 July). Expect reductions of up to 70% for six whole weeks. Everything must go!