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What's On in Paris | 10 Unforgettable Events this Autumn
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What's On in Paris | 10 Unforgettable Events this Autumn

Picture of Dawn Turek
Updated: 9 February 2017
Paris comes into its own during the autumn, as the rounding off of the summer holidays always calls for a final flourish of festivals, music and art. Visitors to the city can mingle with locals at open-air art exhibitions, enjoy wine festivals or discover Frank Gehry’s latest cloud-like masterpiece. We explore the top 10 cultural events this autumn, from cinematic innovation to chocoholic heaven.

Theatre & Dance | The Paris Autumn Festival (le Festival d’Automne à Paris)

4 September – 31 December 2014

From September through to December, the annual Paris Autumn Festival features 40 events attracting over 100,000 visitors. The festival focuses on contemporary art from across a variety of mediums including theatre, visual arts, film, literature, dance, opera, and music. In 1972, Michel Guy founded the Autumn Festival with support from then-French President Georges Pompidou. The new festival followed Guy’s mission to put forth the idea that national borders are not cultural borders, establishing Paris as a centre of cultural influence in which original ideas, dialogue and debate would flourish.

The Paris Autumn Festival, 156 rue de Rivoli, Paris, France +33 01 53 45 17 00

Art | Marcel Duchamp: Painting, Even (Marcel Duchamp. La peinture, meme)

24 September 2014 – 5 January 2015

The Pompidou Centre presents Marcel Duchamp: Painting, Even, an exhibit centring on the unconventional French painter, sculptor, and writer Marcel Duchamp, who was also known to Cubists as ‘the man who killed painting’. Born in 1887, the artist began his career in the Impressionist style, before discovering Symbolism. He finally delved into Cubism – until his work ‘Nude descending a Staircase’ was rejected for its ‘dehumanizing rendering’ in 1911. The artist then seemingly abandoned his painting for a career pursuing chess, until his death in 1968 led to the discovery of a final piece. This exhibit showcases 100 of the artist’s earliest paintings and drawings and invites visitors to understand the artist’s creative influences that led him to push the against the boundaries of art.

Marcel Duchamp, Centre Pompidou, 4e, Rue Saint-Martin, Paris, France, +33 1 44 78 12 33

Drink | The Harvest Festival in Montmartre (Fête des vendanges)

October 8-12

Who knew there were vineyards in Paris? Montmartre is the place to find them. The free Harvest Festival or Fête des vendanges offers visitors the opportunity to stomp grapes whilst enjoying parades, gastronomic delights, live music and the local vintage. Dating back to 1934, this third most-visited Parisian event is an artsy festival organized around the neighbourhood’s yield of over 1,200 grape vines. This year’s poetry theme is dedicated to Montmartre’s creative literary inhabitants, such as ‘Autumn Leaves’ poet Jacques Prévert. Savour local delicacies and wine from over 106 vendors whilst enjoying art exhibitions and performance poetry slams. On Saturday, fireworks light the evening sky against the beautiful backdrop of the Sacré-Cœur.

The Harvest Festival, 1 Place Jules Joffrin, Paris, France, +33 1 53 41 18 18

Cinema | François Truffaut: The New Wave in France

8 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

Cinématheque Française, which began as a film archive in 1936 to ‘promote cinema study and cinema culture in France’, presents a retrospective of celebrated French director François Truffaut. From the 1950s until the 1980s, Truffaut fought against conventional cinematic techniques by disregarding linear structure and capturing self-awareness. The 400 Blows, features the director’s unsentimental tale of his own difficult childhood, whilst Le Dernier Métro casts Catherine Deneuve as an actress who takes over the managing of a theatre after her German-Jewish husband, a youthful Gérard Depardieu, is forced to give up his position and go into hiding.

François Truffaut, Cinémathèque Française, 51, rue de Bercy, Paris 75012, France, +33 01 71 19 33 33

Art | Picasso Museum Paris: Revisiting a Master’s Works

Opens 25 October

After five years of renovation and €52 million, the Picasso Museum Paris finally reopens its door on the 25th of October with double the original exhibition space. Although a Spanish native, Pablo Picasso spent most of his adult life in France before his death in 1973. In an astute move to avoid estate taxes after his passing, Picasso willed his works to the government. A proviso of this will stipulated that these works could not be loaned to any other exhibitions – in France or abroad. Thus, the Piscasso Museum-located in the 17th-century Hôtel Salé in the fashionable Marais district, houses one of the most complete collections of an artist’s work and personal items in the world.

Picasso Museum, Hôtel Salé 5, rue de Thorigny, Paris, France +33 1 85 56 00 36

Art | Foundation Louis Vuitton

Opens 27 October

Known more for its luxury brand items, LVMH is launching its philanthropic Foundation Louis Vuitton in the verdant Bois de Boulogne park in the haute Parisian neighbourhood known as the 16th. The Foundation is tasked with the mission of further developing cultural and artistic endeavours, such as those that flourished in France and beyond during the 20th and early 21st century. Within Frank Gehry’s innovatively designed glass building, the space will play host to special exhibitions, including various art collections and a selection of performances and events. The first exhibit in October focuses on Gehry’s conceptualization of the building and coincides with a retrospective of the architect’s career at the Centre Pompidou.

Foundation Louis Vuitton, 8 Avenue du Mahatma Ghandi, Bois de Boulogne, Paris, France, +33 1 40 69 96 00

Food | Paris Chocolate Fair – Salon du chocolat

29 October – 2 November

Even the most dedicated ‘chocoholic’ may find the Salon du Chocolat a bit of a challenge: 400 chocolatiers and chefs spread out over two floors equalling 20,000m2 and serving diverse cacao delicacies in every form. Tastings and classes comprise Paris’ largest homage to chocolate, something often considered to be an essential element of the French diet. As the first chocolate fair devoted to the knowledge of cacao cultivation, production and consumption, visitors to the 20th Annual Salon du Chocolate will be treated to experimental preparation techniques that seek to capture the sensory bliss that unites chocolate lovers around the world.

Salon Du Chocolat, Porte de Versailles, Pavillon 5, Paris, France, +33 (0)1 53 44 76 64

Ballet | La Source, choreographed by Jean-Guillaume Bart

29 November – 30 December

Originally created for the Paris Opera in 1866, dancer Jean-Guillaume Bart is in collaboration with dramatist Clément Hervieu-Léger and designer Christian Lacroix to present a stylish reinvention of the classical ballet, La Source. Weaving a tale of Persian folklore, the story follows star-crossed loves: Djemil, a hunter, becomes infatuated with Nouredda, who is on her way to marry the Khan. The spirit of the spring, Naila, rescues Djemil from imprisonment, only to then fall in love with him herself. Originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to a score by Léon Minkus and Léo Delibes, the ballet offers a study in contrasts: amid eastern flavours and Shakespearean influences, the piece juxtaposes the fantasy of elves, nymphs and ethereal beings with the gritty themes of real life.

La Source, péra Garnier, entrance at the intersection of rue Scribe and rue Auber, Paris, France, +33 1 75 25 24 23

Circus | Quidam – Cirque du Soleil

2 December – 7 December

Cirque du Soleil consistently delivers dextrous acrobatics and breathtaking artistry with deceptive ease. Haunting visuals capture the story of Zoe, a young girl who, alienated by everyday adult life, finds respite in the world of ‘Quidam’, an extraordinary land within her imagination. Cirque du Soleil’s beautiful showcase of dance, acrobatics, art, and music brings together a plethora of Olympic athletes and professional dancers. Visitors to the Paris spectacle will delight in the fantastical costumes and convivial revelry, as these contortionists and stunt people gracefully defy the laws of science with diabolos and Cyr wheels to convince Zoe to free her soul.

Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy, 8 Boulevard de Bercy, Paris, France, +33 0892 390 490

Dance | Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut: Hofesh Shechter Company

18 – 20 December

British-Israeli choreographer and composer Hofesh Shechter brings Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut to La Grande Halle de la Villette. Mr Shechter, previously known for his composition, ‘Uprising’, based on the 2005 riots in Parisian suburbs, brings a new tale combining political intrigue with the sensory overload of a rock concert. As the story focuses on a dictator in a distant and forgotten city, music, dance and theatre intertwine. Musicians and dancers from the Hofesh Shechter Company find themselves frenetically dancing amid drummers and platforms, in order to convey anger, madness and political revolt.

Political Mother, Grande Halle de la Villette, 211, Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris, France, +33 01 40 03 75 75

By Dawn Turek