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Paris Events Calendar

What’s On in Paris – May 2021

Louvre exterior

The French government has announced the gradual reopening of cultural institutions and relaxing of travel and curfew restrictions beginning May 19th. In the meantime, check out The Best of Virtual Paris for online events.

French Holidays in May

(government offices and many shops closed)

  • May 1st: Fête du Travail (Labor Day, one of the biggest holidays of the year)
  • May 8th: Fête de la Victoire de 1945 (V-Day WWII)
  • May 13th: Ascension (Catholic holiday)
  • May 24th: Lundi de Pentecôte (Catholic holiday)
  • May 30th: Fête des Mères (Mother’s Day, not an official holiday)

Open-Air Expositions

  • The Art of Science (in the Jardin des Plantes, 5th) through June 14th : At the border between science, art and craftsmanship, the photographs illustrate the great diversity of the trades carried out and cover all the activities and sites of the Natural History Museum. 
  • Genocides of the 20th Century (at the Shoah Memorial, 4th), through August 28th: A remarkable if disturbing exhibition documenting genocides of the destruction of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, of the Jews of Europe, and of the Tutsi of Rwanda through a rich selection of photographs, archives and exceptional testimonies. 
  • Parisiennes (the fence of the Hôtel de Ville, 4th), through May 10th: Nikos Aliagas presents 35 unpublished black and white photos on 24 panels along the Rue de Rivoli, photographing Parisian women “in the theatrical setting that Paris offers” and a tribute to the city’s heroines.
  • The Unknown Garden of the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale (Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale René-Dumont, 12th) through June 30th: In the Bois de Vincennes, remains of the pavilions dedicated to the French colonies built for the 1907 colonial exhibition are hidden within the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale. Photographer Nathalie Tirot superimposes her photographs of these historical vestiges with postcards of the time.
  • Le Chat Déambule (The Cat Strolls) in the Jardin des Champs- Élysées (8th) through June 4th: it’s hard to miss the 20 giant verdigris bronze statues of the cartoon cat made famous by the Belgian artist Philippe Geluck, each one measuring almost 2 meters tall and weighing in at almost a metric ton! The signs are translated into English, too. See the video below:

Most Tuesdays and Wednesdays
The American Library in Paris is hosting free “Evenings with an Author” event on Zoom every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7:30pm Paris time (CET). RSVP required to get the Zoom link. See the full schedule here.

May 7-9
This weekend at the Bergerie Nationale de Rambouillet is the 22nd Pari Fermier market: “110 farmers and winegrowers from all over France await you on Friday 7, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 May from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Foie gras, wines, fruits & vegetables, cheeses, meats, and fish, come and taste authentic farm products sold directly by our producers! Located in a magnificent setting in the heart of the Rambouillet forest, the MARCHE PARI FERMIER is the ideal place for a walk with family or friends. Burgers, sandwiches, cakes, you will find everything you need to eat; the dishes are only available for take-away!” It’s €6 to enter, but you can download and print a free pass on their website, too.

May 12
La Fabrique de la Solidarité and the association Une Couverture Pour l’Hiver (UCPH) are organizing guided tours of the photo exhibition “From gaze to encounter” about the homeless at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (click on the time to sign up for one of the slots). You will discover portraits of people living in the street, met during the weekly food and assistance distributions made by volunteers of the association. UCPH volunteers will share with you some tips for reaching out to homeless people in your own community in a respectful manner. The photo exposition is at the La Fabrique de la Solidarité, 8 rue de la Banque, 2nd. Registration required to enter.

May 13-23
This month the Atelier d’Artistes de Belleville (AAB) welcomes 21 new artists to their collective of almost 250 artists in the Belleville district of Paris. You can see representations of their works online or in person at the AAB Gallery (1, rue Francis Picabia, 20th).

May 15-16
The Cité Fertîle in the north Parisian suburb of Pantin is hosting an enormous open-air vintage market called The Gros Marché. There will be 30 stands selling vintage clothing, home objects, accessories, records, bicycles, and upcycled home decor. Open noon-7pm (curfew!), free entry, access via metro Hoche or Quatre Chemins, or RER Gare de Pantin.

Starting May 19th
Cultural institutions such as museums, cinemas and theatres are now allowed to reopen (with social distancing and masks required). Not all will be immediately open, or may have reduced opening hours or require advanced reservations online, so check each venue’s website for the latest information. For some ideas of what to check out first, see the Latest Paris Museum and Monument Updates.

May 19th
Monet’s gardens in Giverny will be open to the public starting today. Tickets available online in advance on the official museum website and FNAC.

May 19-23rd
The 15th annual Fête de la Nature is a five-day festival celebrating nature with a full program of 5000 free events in parks, gardens, nature preserves and forests all over the country, with 36 events in Paris alone.

Through May 28th 
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Commune de Paris, a bloody civil war that tore Paris apart. Despite the pandemic, there are still plenty of events taking place in commemoration. The very loooong list of events is online here (all in French, of course). There’s also an app to find all of the heroes of the Commune in Père Lachaise Cemetery, where the final battle with the Versaillaises troops took place between the tombstones. There’s an excellent online exposition here, but for some info in English, you can read about the spark that set off the insurrection here.

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