The calendar is updated throughout the month, check back weekly for new events!
Official May Holidays
May 1st: Fête du Travail
May 8th: V-Day (WWII)
May 14th: Ascension
May 24-25: Pentecost Sunday (and Monday)
Through May 10
The annual Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) is one of the biggest events of the year, occupying the entire Paris Expo Porte de Versailles (15th arr.) with hall after hall of food and wine, home and garden, fashion & accessories, travel and world cultures, arts and crafts, the famous Inventions Contest, and this year a “Makers Fair”. It’s chaos, it’s fascinating, and there’s always something interesting to learn (or buy, or eat). Just don’t go on the weekend unless you like being trampled! Note: MAY 9th is the Salon du Vintage with a huge collection of vinyls and at 6pm a vintage roller skating parade.
Through May 22
April 26th was the Journée Nationale de la Déportation (National Day in Memory of the Deportation) in memory of the victims and the heros of the Nazi deportations during WWII. There are several exhibitions in remembrance of the deportation, including Lutetia 1945: Return of the Deportees (concentration camp survivors returning to Paris were welcomed and reunited with family at the Lutetia Hotel in the 6th), which takes place from April 23-30 at the Mairie du 10ème arrondissement (72 rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 10th); and two exhibitions in the Mairie du 13ème arrondissement (Place d’Italie), “Jewish Children in Paris 1939-1945” about the lives of the Jewish children during the occupation, April 24-May 15, and “The 13th in Resistance”about the residents of the 13th who were members of the French Resistance, April 24-May 22. All events are free.
Through June 13
Check out a free exposition on 50 years of Parisian Street Art, Sur les Murs, featuring the work of 50 different French street artists (including Space Invader, Miss Tic and Speedy Graphito). At the Crédit Municipal de Paris, 55 rue des Francs Bourgeois, 3rd, from 9am-6pm (Thurs until 7pm, Sat until 5pm, closed Sun).
Through July 12
The oldest house in Montmartre, where Renoir once lived and worked, is now the Musée Montmartre, and its Renoir Gardens are a peaceful retreat from the tourist crowds. The Fête de Montmartre takes place here every Sunday in summer (except June 7th) from 1-6pm. There will be live music, Cancan shows, caricaturists, magicians and fortune tellers, games for kids, and the garden tearoom for snacks. Tickets are €16 (€8 for kids 2-12), including entrance to the museum and gardens.
Through August 1
Nostalgic for the soulful songs of the legendary Parisian chanteuse Edith Piaf? Book a tabe now at sexy cabaret singer Caroline Nin’s “Hymne à Piaf”, a show using English storytelling and songs en français to remember one of the greatest French singers of all time. Shows are in English Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm. Shows take place at the intimate Essaïon Theatre (6 rue Pierre au Lard, in the Marais, 4th). Tickets are €25-30. Secrets of Paris readers get an exclusive deal of one free ticket for every ticket booked. To benefit from this great offer, just email:email@example.com and say you are from Secrets of Paris. You can also phone the English box office number in Paris on 09 50 13 61 00.
Through August 23
Whether you already love Edith Piaf or know nothing about this iconic French singer, this exhibition about her life and music at the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand (13th) is a great opportunity to learn all about one of France’s greatest legends during the centennial year of her birth. Piaf, Tues-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 1-7pm, €9 entrance.
Through September 30
Meet the artists of Belleville at the Belvédère aux Artistes, every Saturday and Sunday at the Parc de Belleville (on the esplanade overlooking the Maison de l’Air, Rue de Piat), 2-8pm. Fifteen local artists and artisans — painters, clothing designers, jewelry makers, furniture makers, etc — will create, display, and sell their works direct to the public. Free entry, and the view over Paris is amazing!
It’s the annual Fête du Travail in France, one of the biggest national holidays when almost every museum and shop is closed (equivalent to Christmas Day). Aside from the annual parades by French workers’ unions, you can see what’s open May 1st on the website of the Mairie du Paris.
The Grand Halles at the Parc de la Villette is hosting an Urban Art Exposition (with live grafitti artists on May 16-17 from 2-8pm) as part of the 2015 Villette Street Festival. The art will also be for sale to benefit the charity Emmaüs. Free entry.
Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant will discuss his career and his piquant political cartoons, in conversation with writer Les Daly at the American Library as part of their Evenings with an Editorial Cartoonist at 7:30pm, free entry.
Yo ho ho and a flask of your best rum! Join The Chamber on the Canal St Martin this evening from 7-9pm for Tiny Boat Apero: Sip, Snack & Sail on a tiny electric boat. Tickets €50 for non-members, €30 for members, use the “secretsofparis” code for a special discount. Only 6 spaces, sign up soon!
One of the biggest flower shows in France, Journées des Plantes de Courson, takes place this weekend at the Chateau de Chantilly, just 45 minutes north of Paris from the Gare du Nord. Entry €20 (or €17 if you get your tickets online before May 14).
La Bellevilloise in the 20th district is hosting a Grand Salon of Afforadable Art showcasing the paintings, photos, sculptures, engravings and other artworks by 50 locals artists, selling for €50-€5000. Open 11am-8:30pm (Friday from 2pm). Entry €5.
FairPride, the largest festival dedicated to fair trade in France, is holding a day-long event (11am-11pm) at the Place de la République. Open free to the general public, with stands representing artisans, food producers, and activists promoting fair trade practices around the world. There will be tastings, food trucks, kids activities, live music and, because it’s France, debates! Partners include Max Havelaar, Greenpeace, Artisans du Monde, Guayapi, Biocoop, and Oxfam. Schedule online in French. Also, as part of the Equitable Commerce festival there is a pop-up Max Havelaar boutique “Chez Max” near the Canal St Martin at 13 rue Poulmarch, 10th, open daily through May 24th, selling fair trade products.
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 11th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until midnight…for free! Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum, chck out the schedule online or Expo in the City’s favorites (in French only).
Attention equestrian fans: it’s time for the one of the legendary horse racing events in Paris, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at the Hippodrome d’Auteuil (16th). There will be food trucks, snack stands and you can also dine in the panoramic restaurant overlooking the racetrack. Tickets are €8. The hippodrome opens at 11am, races start at 1pm on the 16th, and the Grand Steeple-Chase is at 4pm on the 17th.
There’s nothing more French the Bal Dominical, or Sunday Ball. A bit like a countryside wedding (without Bridezilla or ugly bridesmaids dresses), it’s a day of live music, dancing, drinking wine, eating, and having a fun time with the family. This Sunday there will be a Jour de Fête at the Cabaret Sauvage (Parc de la Villette, 19th) from 3-11pm, hosted by the Grand Bal du Petit Orchestre Parisien. There will be live bands, DJs, retro dance lessons, karaoké, line fishing (that’s what it says), magicians and other performers, tea, pastries, vin chaud, and other fun goodies. Entry is €10 in advance (FNAC or Digitick), €12 at the door, €5 for kids 6-15, free for for kids under 6.
Looking for something fun and a little naughty? The Poetry Brothel (Bordel de la Poesie) is a unique and immersive poetry event that takes poetry outside lecture halls and places it in the lush interiors of a bordello. Based on the fin-de-siecle bordellos in New Orleans and Paris, many of which functioned as safe havens for fledgling, avant-garde artists, The Poetry Brothel’s “Madame” presents a rotating cast of poets as “whores,” who impart their work in public readings and most distinctly, as purveyors of private, one-on-one poetry readings in back rooms.“From Mount Olympus to Valhalla, through enchanted meadows and spell-bound paths, every myth, legend and tale is coming alive at the Poetry Brothel Pantheon. Under the guidance of the hosts, Alberto The Magnificent and The Lady, guests are encouraged to reveal their inner Gods and Goddesses, fauns, nymphs or demons, to pull out the flaming sword of Beauty from the stone of tedium and become the anointed hero of their own (and our!) stories.” The evening will feature private and public readings from the Parisian Poetry Whores, burlesque acts, and a slew of other otherworldly festivities including tarot reading, body painting, and live portraits. At the Cave St-Sabin, 50 rue St-Sabin, 11th. Doors open at 5pm. The show begins promptly at 7pm. Doors close at midnight. Tickets are 13€ online and 18€ at the door all night. Private readings are 5€.
May 19-June 7
The annual French Open at Roland Garros takes place for two weeks in the Bois de Boulogne (16th). Tickets go fast, get yours on their official website. Too late? Watch the matches on a big screen for free on the 5th floor of BHV Marais department store (4th), where they’ve dedicated an entire pop-up lounge to the French Open matches as well as a photo exhibit on the Roland Garros historical moments. Through June 20th.
Champagne tasting and sale direct from the producer at Art & Vin (35 Rue de l’Espérance Paris 13th), on the Butte aux Cailles, M° Corvisart or Place d’Italie, from 5:30-9:30pm. Please RSVP to Philippe and tell him I sent you (he speaks perfect English): firstname.lastname@example.org
Sex & Booze: An Erotic Book Club at The Chamber, where we’ll be reading Vox by Nicholson Baker (a classic!), drinking cocktails, and talking about…well, sex. And as an extra bonus, I’ll be the guest moderator for this event! (use the promotional code “naughtyparis” to get a discount on your ticket). Limited to 8 women only, 8-10pm in a private home; sign up while there’s space! Check out other fun Chamber events here.
Who doesn’t love teatime? Join the author Jill Colonna of Teatime in Paris! for a book launch at Treize Bakery today 4-6pm. You get a copy of the new book and tea and pastries for just €33 (limited spaces, reserve your spot).
This evening from 7-9pm there will be a wine reception for the exhibit of photographs by Meredith Mullins and paintings by Jo Charlton in a benefit for “Every Child is a Gem/Art with a Purpose”. The event takes place in historic stables (now the Daily Method Studio) at 71 ave Victor Hugo, 16th (code 5378B, second courtyard and down the ramp).
The Improfessionals, an English improv comedy troup based in Paris, will be performing at the Théâtre d’Essaïon (behind the Pompidou Centre) at 9:30pm. Six actors, one musician, no script: “A creative cocktail of sketches and scenes all made up on the spot by Paris’s premier international improvisation troupe. Fantastic fables, captivating characters and spontaneous silliness meet for 75 mintues of original comedy.” Shows every other Wednesday. Tickets €14-€22.
The annual Fête de la Nature takes place in small neighborhood community gardens all over Paris, with seed exchanges, gardening workshops, tours of rooftop vegetable gardens, and community picnics. The events are all open to the public, but the information is only in French. Garden people are pretty laid back, just use your auto-translator and give it a try!
Craft beer lovers unite! It’s time for the second annual Paris Beer Week, with tons of events, tastings, brewery tours and bar specials all over Paris. The calendar is in English, and many of the events are free. Support Paris’ locally-grown artisan beers!
The annual Brittany Festival, or Fête de la Bretagne, takes place in Paris at the Mairie du 15ème (31 rue Peclet, 15th), where for two days there will be 45 stands selling gourmet foods, ciders and liqueurs, crafts, artworks, books and other items from Brittany, an exhibition on the Bretonne language, activities for kids, and live entertainment. Saturday 10am-9pm and Sunday 10am-7pm. On Saturday there will be a Breizh Parade of 200 musicians and dancers from Bretagne and Galice, the Celtic dance circles, starting at métro Sèvres Lecourbe (line 6) at 11:30am to the Mairie du 15ème at 1:30pm. On Sunday the afternoon will include live music from 3-6:30pm. Free entry to all events, don’t miss this wonderful chance to learn more about this region of France!
The 4th annual Montmartre Dionysia is an English language theatre festival based in Paris. With four one-act plays in competition, it’s the the only English theatre festival in Paris dedicated to new writing, and ranks among the biggest English language theatre events in the French capital. This year’s theme is “Fire for Yourself to Burn”, with plays performed in two Montmartre locations, Salle Pajol and Petite Théâtre du Bonheur. Sign up on their website to receive the full program or participate (volunteers also needed).
Stephen Clarke, the best-selling author of A Year in the Merde series and 1000 Years of Annoying the French is launching his latest book, How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), 7pm at the Abbey Bookshop (29 rue de la Parchiminerie, 5th; just behind St Severin church). There will be wine and munchies and good company, as usual. Free entry.
The Cité Universitaire is a large campus-style complex (housing 12,000 students from 140 countries) in the 14th arrondissement, of 40 dorms built by architects from around the world. To celebrate its 90th birthday this weekend they’re having a Fête de la Cité with cultural activities, tours, concerts, films and dishes all representing the different nationalities represented.
May 29-June 1
The 26th annual Artists’ Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (11th, 19th & 20th arrondissements). It’s a great chance to see some neighborhoods tourists don’t normally see, to meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! Pick up a map and program at the Espace Jordain (3 rue Jean-Baptiste Dumay, 20th, M° Jourdain). Free entry.
The scenic market street Rue Mouffetard is hosting their 8th annual Fête Céramique this weekend from 10am-7pm along Rue Bazeilles and Rue Censier, free entry, about 35 ceramic artists will be presenting their wares for sale.
The French love to watch films in original locations. If you like historic swimming pools, the Piscine Pontoise (5th) is hosting tonight’s AquaCiné screening of “The Life Aquatic” by Wes Anderson (VO with French subtitles). Yes, you’re going to watch a film in a swimming pool, either sitting on deck chairs or in the water (heated to 33°C for the evening) on inflated chairs (there will be lifeguards on duty). The doors open at 8pm, tickets €15, but get yours in advance at the swimming pool ticket window because they sell out fast! And don’t forget, gentlemen, that in France you need to wear fitted bathing suits (they don’t have to be Speedos, but they can’t be board shorts or any kind of shorts that you could wear walking around town).
Have you ever tried raw chocolates? Want to visit a real French chocolate factory?Rrraw is a small, artisan company in the Parisian suburbs (Montreuil) making gourmet, organic, raw chocolates (they are amazing, you’d never guess they weren’t cooked). The kitchens where they are made are open to the public once each month for a limited number of visitors at 11am, 2pm and 4pm. To get on the list send your request to Frédéric at email@example.com specifying which date, time and number of people you will be. It’s accessible by metro, the presentation is in French, plenty of samples and wholesale price on purchases.
Les Frigos, one of the city’s illustrious artist studios (which started as a squat over 25 years ago) housed in a former refrigerated warehouse, opens its doors to the public for the annual Portes Ouvertes Saturday 1-10pm and Sunday 2-8pm. Free entry. Located at 19 rue des Frigos, just off Rue Neuve Tolbiac, 13th (M° Bibliothèque). You can’t miss it!
Upcoming Paris Events (mark your calendars!)
Summer Festivals (en français): Festivals on A Nous Paris
The Salon du Vinatge is always a fun event in Paris, whether you’re shopping for clothing, accessories, vinyls, and home decor, or just to hear the retro DJ tunes and the festive atmosphere. Free entry, at the Halle des Blancs Manteaux (48 rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd).
The artists of the 5th (Mouffetard) and 13th (Butte aux Cailles/Gobelins) districts knows as Lézarts du Bièvre open their studios to the public for two days, 2-8pm. Free entry. Info points and maps here.
Celebrate Fête de la Musique in 17th-century aristocratic style at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte for their annual costumes dance event, La Journée Grand Siècle, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the original owner, Nicolas Fouquet. There will be an elegant picnic in the chateau gardens, live music and dancing, as well as carriage rides and sword-fighting shows. If you don’t have a costume gown you can rent one on-site from €17.
The annual Rock-en-Seine Festival is one of the best music festivals of the year, taking place in a leafy park of St-Cloud, right on the outskirts of Paris (which means you can get there on the metro). This year’s headliners are The Chemical Brothers, The Libertines, FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks), Kasabian, The Offspring, Hot Chip, and tons of others on four stages. The €119 three-day passes (the best deal) sell out quickly, get yours as soon as possible, especially if you want to snag one of the camping spots on-site (tent included!) Also, if you happen to have small tots with you there’s a separate play area for them so the adults can go have fun without babysitting (or feeling guilty).
Other Paris Calendar Links
- For general events around Paris: Que Faire à Paris?
- For literary events, readings, and classes: Monthly Paris Listing
- For indie/alternative music concerts see Gigs in Paris
- For art exhibitions in galleries and museum see Slash Paris
- For mainstream events visit the Paris Office of Tourism
- For naughty events, see the Naughty Paris Guide