This year’s dusk ‘til dawn festivities are set for Saturday 5th October, with the reigns of artistic control falling into the hands of Chiara Parisi – director of cultural programs of the Currency of Paris – and Julie Pellegrin – director of the Centre of Contemporary Art of the Ferme du Buisson de Marne-la-Vallée.
What is Nuit Blanche?
The spirit of Nuit Blanche is predominately the idea of showing off the city in a brand new light. For one night only, art and culture takes over the streets, with galleries, museums, cinemas, parks, monuments, libraries and the like all staying open throughout the night, offering free entry to all and hosting anything from musical performances to art installations. Festivities aren’t just limited to the indoors either; everywhere you turn, there’s fun and creativity waiting to be discovered with a myriad of light installations projected onto buildings and magic in the air. Pedestrians are given the run of the city, with roads and traffic turned to pedestrian-only zones for the duration of the night.
Nuit Blanche is a nighttime carnival that aims to shock and surprise, inciting attendees to look at well-known locations and attractions in a brand new way. It’s all about finding new ways to interact with urban space and attracts over 80,000 spectators every year, all hoping to find out how.
Where did it all begin?
Paris’ Nuit Blanche dates back to 2002, having been inspired by the ‘White Nights’ of St Petersburg: the Russian city’s summer evenings when the sun never truly sets are celebrated with music, performances and art. The idea was brought to Paris by Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris since 2001 and the same artistic-loving mayor who introduced Paris Plage (the summer beach on the banks of the Seine) and the now much-copied Vélib’ public bicycle scheme. Since then, the concept has taken off with panache, extending to ten other cities in Europe – from Berlin and Brighton – as well as the far reaches of everywhere from Kyoto to Buenos Aires.
Previous years in Paris have seen everything from installations along the banks of the river Seine and video art in swimming pools to clouds of paper butterflies in the night sky and bejewelled skulls atop of church naves. In 2012, 15 of the city’s tallest buildings were opened up for free for the night, offering a bird’s eye view of the beauty of Nuit Blanche, with the highest the 24th floor of Université Pierre et Marie Curie.
What’s on this year?
The beauty of Nuit Blanche (among the millions of other things) is that it’s probably best experienced by leaving your evening to chance, wandering the streets and seeing what you come across. It’s probably a good idea to choose a couple of events that you definitely want to see and then let your senses, your imagination and your feet do the rest. Approach Nuit Blanche with an open mind and with the same avant-garde spirit that the whole festival exudes and you’re bound to have an unforgettable evening.
Every year, the events are based around four main neighbourhoods. In 2013, these are the banks of the Seine, Marais Republic, Canal Saint-Martin and Belleville-Ménilmontant – although, of course, there are things to be found all across the city. At the moment, events are still mysteriously under-wraps but be sure to check out the official website nearer the time for more details.
Transport on the night
This year, every Metro line will stay open until 3am and reopen at 5.30am – except from line 14, which will remain open all night long, with entrance free from 2.15am to 5.30am. On line 12, a selection of stations will remain open all night, including Madeleine, Trinité, Notre-Dame de Lorette, Saint-Georges, Pigalle, Abbesses, Lamarck-Caulaincourt, Jules Joffrin and Porte de la Chapelle, with entrance free again from 2.15am-5.30am.
The Metro and the night buses are likely to be very busy throughout the night so embrace the colourful streets and plan to walk back to your apartment or hotel where possible. If you’re not familiar with the city, take a good Paris street map with you.
Where to stay
Whether you manage to make it through to 7am or not, a comfortable place to rest your weary head will no doubt be top of your list at the end of the night. With the event proving so popular, it’s advisable to book your hotel in advance. Searching for Paris hotels with the likes of Expedia allows you to explore and decide which neighbourhood is the most convenient for your end of the night, whether you fancy some Right Bank luxury or the artsy and bohemian neighbourhoods of La Rive Gauche.