Official May Holidays
May 1st: Fête du Travail (Most museums closed)
May 5th: Ascension (List of open museums)
May 8th: V-Day (WWII) (List of open museums)
May 15-16: Pentecost Sunday (and Monday)
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.
Looking for a killer deal on used clothing? The charity thrift shop Emmaüs is holding a five-day Vente au Kilo (sale by the kilo) of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing at their Davout Boutique (105 blvd Davout, 20th, metro Porte de Montreuil).
Rock and Karaoké fans won’t want to miss the latest edition of Ullmann’s KaraRocké night at the Bus Palladium, featuring Master of Ceremonies (and Birthday Boy) Nicolas Ullmann and guest band Les Blondes opening the evening. It’s like karaoké but with a live rock band backing you up! Free entry, from 9:30pm, get on the priority list by sending email to email@example.com with the subject “I love Rock N’Roll”.
This Sunday will be the first of the regular monthly “pedestrian-only” Sundays on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées from noon-8pm. There will also be some military processions commemorating 1945 V-Day (Armistice Day).
Through May 8
The third annual Paris Beer Week celebrates local craft beers from the Ile de France region (Paris and the surrounding areas). Events, tastings, tours and more, with the grand finale on Saturday the 7th at La Bellevilloise with 45 breweries in attendance. For the full program see the website or facebook page.
Through May 8
The annual Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) is one of the bigegst 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 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!
May 9 – June 9
The halls of the Carrousel du Louvre (the shopping center below the Louvre Museum) is hosting a free photo exhibit Les Merveilles du Kazakhstan (Marvels of Kazakhstan), 26 large format images showing the country’s beauty (below).
Want to immortalize yourself in a classic Harcourt Studio photo like a vintage Hollywood star? You can get a free photo today (alone or with a friend) in five RATP metro stations where Harcourt photo booths and vintage hair and makeup stands will be set up from noon-5pm: Jaurès (under the viaduc of line 2), Denfert-Rochereau (Gare RER B), La Motte Picquet-Grenelle (under line 6 viaduc), Nanterre-Université (Gare RER A), and Quai de la gare (under line 6 viaduc).
Are you a resident of France? Get free assistance filling out your tax forms today at your local mairie, from 9am-6pm. For any other French tax info, consult the main website here.
The annual Paris Ukulele Festival takes place at Le Bellevilloise and the restaurant Aux Petits Joueurs (59 rue Mouzaïa, 19th) with concerts, open mic, a free fair with a new and used ukulele market, master classes, tombola drawings, and bands from all over Europe participating.
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 12).
May 13-16, 20-21
The 27th 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. Open 2-8pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. It has been extended an extra weekend this year for 70 ateliers, 2-8pm on May 20-21st.
May 16-June 5
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.
The 10th annual Fête de la Nature is a five-day festival celebrating nature with a full program of free events to introduce (or re-introduce) the French to nature throughout the country in parks, gardens, nature preserves and forests (37 events in Paris alone, including a Village de l’Agriculture Urbane et de la Biodiversité at the Cité des Sciences).
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 12th 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.
TEDx comes to Paris (in English with French surtitles) today with nine speakers and a networking dinner. Tickets from €30, starts at 1pm.
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.
Join Heather and fellow travel journalists for our 5-day Travel Writing Workshop here in Paris. Open to residents or visitors, experienced travel writers or anyone interested in starting a travel blog or learning how to make a living from travel writing. There are a few spots left for the May workshop, and other dates available in August and October.
Merde, a Brexit?! Looking for a bit of fictional comic relief for the scandal of a possible British exit from the European Union? Don’t miss Merde in Europe, the latest novel in the “Merde” series by British author Stephen Clarke (also author of non-fiction history books including 1000 Years of Annoying the French). He’ll be presenting the book and signing copies tonight at the Abbey Bookshop (29 rue de la Parchiminerie, 5th, metro Cluny-Sorbonne or St-Michel), from 7:30pm, free.
Today is the Journée Nationale de Prévention et le Dépistage des Cancers de Peau (National Cancer Prevention and Free Skin Cancer Testing Day) takes place in dermatology clinics throughout the country, check online for the one closest to you.
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!
Les Frigos, one of the most famous (former) artists’ squats in Paris, has its annual Portes Ouvertes this weekend, from 2pm-10pm Saturday, until 8pm Sunday. The studios of over 200 artist studios are open to the public. Free entry, expect crowds! At Rue de Neuve Tolbiac, 13th, Metro Bibliothèque.
American Memorial Day Ceremonies will take place in and around Paris at the Escadrille Lafayette Memorial, American Legion Mausoleum, American Church of Paris, US Military Cemetery in Suresnes, and Arc de Triomphe.
Through September 18
Fan of Ice Age, Horton, Robots and other animated films of Blue Sky Studios? Don’t miss the exhibition of their work in 800 drawings, paintings, and sculptures at the Musée Art Ludique, Docks en Seine, 34 quai d’Austerlitz, Paris 13th. Tckets €11-€16.50.
Through September 30
The Mémorial de la Shoah is hosting a free exhibition on Women in the Resistance. A fascinating look at the role of women — including many Jewish women — who resisted the Nazis during the occupation. It features the recent publication of historic graphic novels on the subject published by Editions Casterman. Although the Holocaust Memorial’s permanent collection is in English and French (and worth a visit itself if you are curious about the history of the Jewish people in France both before, during and after WWII), but the exhibiti is in French with audio-guides in English. Free entry.
Through October 16
Looking for a strange and unique place to visit? Like trains and food trucks? Grand Train is the “event of the season”, in a disaffected train depot on the northern edge of the city, (26 rue Ordener, 18th, metro Marcadet-Poissoniers) with real historic trains, seven food trucks, bars, a playground and garden terraces to enjoy the sunshine (assuming we ever get some!). Free entry, stuff to buy, hipsters and their kids to compete with for the best spots.
Coming in June
Come bike on the Avenue des Champs Elysées for the annual Les 24h Vélib’. The street is closed to traffic from 8am-8pm for a bike festival with several events for adults and kids, food trucks, pétanque, live DJ entertainment, information stands, etc. If you’d like to participate in the charity fundraising Vélib’ relay just show up and look for the Grand Boucle signs (every 2 laps pedalled = 1€ for charity).
Paris, Lyon and Marseilles are hosting city-wide events for Summer Cocktail Week. Register online to get your free pass!
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