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Parisian Cultural Calendar: Ten Unmissable Summer Events in Paris
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Parisian Cultural Calendar: Ten Unmissable Summer Events in Paris

Picture of Helen Brady
Updated: 9 February 2017
Many would claim that Paris is the cultural capital of Europe, and its wide array of exhibitions, festivals and events make it hard to dispute this claim. From idyllic strolls through remarkable gardens to retrospective exhibitions of major modern artists, we take a look at the top ten cultural events to enjoy in the French capital this summer.

Simon Hantaï Retrospective:

The Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Georges Pompidou is hosting a riveting retrospective exhibition on the twentieth-century abstract painter Simon Hantaï, featuring approximately 130 paintings created between the years of 1949 through to the 1990s. This display is the first in over thirty five years, and will provide an in depth look into one of the most relevant abstract artists of the past sixty years. His method of ‘pliage’ initiated in 1960, earned himself the reputation as one of the ‘greatest colourists of all time.’ What became known as the ‘folding method’ involved folding and scrunching the canvas, then dousing it with paint, leaving the apparent blank sections of the canvas interrupted by vibrant colour. The last retrospective devoted to Hantaï took place in 1976, and in the final years of his career became increasingly withdrawn from the public eye until his death in 2008. An unmissable opportunity for lovers of modern art. The exhibition opened on May 22nd, 2013 and will run until September 2nd, 2013.

For more information, click here.


Cinema en Plein Air:

Every summer, Parc de la Villette, one of the largest parks in Paris, plays host to the annual ‘open-air cinema’ or ‘cinéma en plein air’. Every summer, Parisians trek to this North Eastern part of the capital to enjoy evenings of fantastic film under the stars. The event is generally free and hosts at least one show each evening, especially in the peak months of July and August. The 23rd edition of the film festival features both blockbuster classics and recent hits, meaning there is something for everyone to enjoy. New this year, filmmaker and artist Valérie Mréjen, author of the novels The Citrus and My grandfather reveals a preview of a collection of short films in which children talk about their feelings and movie memorabilia. Other showings confirmed include Rio Bravo and The Beaches of Agnès. Just in case you don’t fancy packing your own blankets or deck chairs, both are available to hire. This great event lets you experience the French love for cinema as the sun goes down, along with one of the city’s best parks.

For more information click here.


Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens:

With the sun shining, it is the ideal opportunity to escape the hub of central Paris and take a trip to the Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens. Albert Kahn was an early 20th Century banker who devoted his life and fortune to carrying out a broad philanthropic project. Kahn’s main legacy is the ‘Les Archives de la Planète’ on show inside his former house — a fascinating collection of films and snapshots brought back from each discovery mission in over 60 countries. The spectacular ten-acre gardens contribute to the principles of his work too; each section represents distinct horticultural traditions of different countries. A rocky Vosgienne forest, Japanese village gardens, contemporary Japanese gardens and English and French gardens all make for a peaceful afternoon in the capital. Species from Europe, America, Africa, Oceania and Asia are planted on each of the seven sectors of garden, as if to illustrate a utopian vision of a united world.

For more information, click here.


Bones Restaurant:

The opening of Bones is one of the most exciting culinary events to grace the Parisian calendar year. Lead by top chef James Henry, the Scandinavian-style plates and rock and roll vibe have contributed to its reputation as one of the leading restaurants to dine in this summer. A former Irish pub has been renovated down to its bare ‘bones’ with rough-hewn stone, bare brick walls, metal beams and concrete floors. Henry and his kitchen team bake fresh bread, churn butter and cure charcuterie daily in house. The multi-course set menus consist of top quality ingredients with a minimalist vibe. Particular highlights include seared baby squid in its own ink with sweet onion jam and raw trout wrapped in celery root shavings and grated horseradish powder. On tap and in bottles, you’ll find Sommelier Pierre Derrien’s selection of Bourges and Czech beers — as well as wines made by standout small producers such as Fanny Sabre, Vodopivek, Lamoresca and Antoine Arena by the glass or bottle. The four-course tasting menu is priced at approximately €47, and be sure to book in advance.

To make a reservation, click here.


Chagall: Between War and Peace Exhibition:

Opened in February this year, the exhibit Chagall: Between War and Peace will run at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris until July 21st, 2013. At almost one hundred years of age, Chagall died in 1985 after living through two world wars and two exiles. Chagall was a Russian Jew who became French by adoption between the wars, and was deeply perturbed by the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Nazi occupation of France and the anti-Semitism that forced him into exile in New York in 1941. The particular body of work on display at the Musée du Luxembourg will illustrate his own peculiar experiences of war, peace, happiness, sadness and also his own memories, travels and encounters. This exhibition will illustrate how Chagall, perhaps more than any other Modern artist, was driven and motivated by profound dichotomies. The artist felt split between the universalism of the Parisian avant-garde and more traditional themes in Judaism; between the colourful aesthetic of his paintings and the recurrent painful motifs. A sublime collection, the exhibition thoroughly explores the personal journey of the artist and individual, Marc Chagall.

For more information, click here.


Claude Monet’s House and Gardens:

There is no better time of year than summer to visit the astounding beauty of Claude Monet’s house and gardens. Located in the village of Giverny, Normandy (just fifty miles from Paris), the artist once declared his garden to be his ‘most beautiful masterpiece’. The breath taking landscapes just outside of the city inspired Impressionist Claude Monet’s most famous works. During the warmer months, the garden truly comes to life and the vast collection of flowers and plants are all in full bloom. The garden is personal to Monet, right down to the design, style and layout being entirely of the artist’s creation. There are two parts to the garden — a flower garden entitled Clos Normand at the front of the house, and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side. The two parts were created in order to contrast and complement one another. Experience the magic of Monet’s paintings yourself, with the huge purple Iris borders, red poppies, sunflowers and tall alcea all in bloom.

For more information, click here.


Le Louxor:

Originally opened in 1921, Le Luxour was once a temple of silent cinema. Adversity befell the Egyptian art deco building, and after World War II went into disrepair before it was completely abandoned for 25 years. Marking its triumphant return in April 2013 (almost a century after its conception) the astounding piece of architecture has a new objective; to promote cultural, artistic and educational projects. Carole Scotta, Emmanuel Papillon and Martin Bidou have taken over as management, announcing a ‘mainstream art-house’ programme that is not just for movie moguls. In 1921, the Luxour housed only one theatre; the newly refurbished building now has three: the main Salle Youssef-Chahine, in tribute to the Egyptian filmmaker (340 seats) and two others with 140 and 74 seats respectively. Both cinemagoers and lovers of great architecture should take a trip to the reopened Le Luxour this summer.

For more information, click here.


Le Festival de l’Imaginaire:

Le Festival de l’Imaginaire is a festival celebrating dance and music from all over the world. Covering everything from Balinese dance to music from Abbas Righi, the event certainly provides a vast variety of entertainment. The festival provides a platform for young designers and masters in the fields of dance, music, theatre and ritual performance to showcase their talents on a stage. Founded in 1997, the Festival de L’Imaginaire is sponsored by the House of World Cultures, whose mission is to protect and promote the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Arwad Esber, the Director of the House of World Cultures states that he is interested in contemporary forms, which are rooted in the imagination of people and society. The Festival de L’Imaginaire features performances by groups from Indonesia, Japan, Georgia, Turkey, Iraq, and many other countries, making this a must-see international event. Performances range from singing to full-length theatre productions. Tickets for individual shows at the Festival de L’Imaginaire typically start around €16, with discounted tickets for students.

For more information, click here.


Paris Cinema International Film Festival:

From June 28th until July 9th, 2013, the Paris Cinema International Festival offers a comprehensive overview of contemporary world film. Held annually every summer, the event brings the wonder of film to the city with a vibrant international film competition showing off talents from directors around the globe. There is a separate focus on contemporary and classic French cinema, debates, parties, workshops and special events. In addition to the extensive offering of over three hundred films, many of the winning choices from the Cannes Film Festival are screened at Paris Cinema – meaning that it’s not just the south of the France that gets all of the excitement. For budding directors, a competition is on offer showcasing a broad selection of genres. The winner receives assistance and support in distributing their film. This festival is a must for any lover of film in the capital this summer.

For more information, click here.


Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective:

The American artist Roy Lichtenstein is primarily known for his famous Pop Art works made in the 1960s. Bridging the line between fine art and kitsch, the instantly recognisable pieces consist of comic book prints on a massive scale. Lichtenstein’s popularity elevated creative graphic techniques into high art, subsequently pushing the boundaries of postmodern art. Whilst his work was mostly inspired by the popular imagery of advertising to comics, the exhibition will also include a set of drawings and collages that will be shown for the first time in France. This retrospective exhibition showcases over one hundred paintings and sculptures by Lichtenstein and will be presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris between July 3rd and November 4th, 2013. This is the first major retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein for over 20 years and will be curated by James Rondeau. Works featured will range from the well-copied images of dotted graphic art that he is most famous for, to the lesser-known brass sculptures and Chinese landscapes.

For more information, click here.


By Helen Brady