Paris Diary: May and June


Your guide to cultural events and entertainment in the capital

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Until 9 June

The Centre Pompidou devotes a new retrospective to the prolific French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson to mark the tenth anniversary of his death. The exhibition draws on more than 500 photographs, drawings, paintings, films and written archives to illustrate the depth and variety of a career that spanned much of the 20th century. It covers Cartier-Bresson’s early Surrealist phase during the 1920s and his celebrated work as a photo-journalist during World War II and the post-war period, when he helped to found the Magnum Photos agency. His iconic black and white stills are set beside lesser-known images, paintings and drawings in order to build up a comprehensive portrait of one of France’s best-loved artists.

Tel: (Fr) 1 44 78 12 33

Tous à L’Opéra

10-11 May

For one weekend, the opera houses of Paris will throw open their doors and welcome visitors into their sumptuous interiors for free. It is part of a nationwide event that is linked to a Europe-wide initiative aimed at bringing opera to a mass audience. Visitors will be able to go on guided tours behind the scenes of the opera houses, attend public rehearsals and workshops, and watch special shows. In 2013, participating venues in Paris included the Palais Garnier, the Opéra Comique and the Athénée Théâtre Louis Jouvet.

Tel: (Fr) 1 42 56 49 70


Until 29 June

To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the Empress Joséphine, first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, the Musée du Luxembourg is holding an exhibition evoking her life and times through personal mementos and works from her art collection. Visitors to the museum in the Jardin du Luxembourg will learn about Joséphine’s Creole roots in the Caribbean, her life with the Emperor, her own role as a sovereign and the private passions she had for travel and the arts.

Tel: (Fr) 1 40 13 62 00

Parc Zoologique de Paris

From 12 April

The capital’s main zoo, located in the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern boundary, is re-opening in April after a two-year renovation. The reconstructed parkland is divided into five geographical habitats, ranging from the pampas of South America to the tropics of Madagascar. In this diverse landscape, visitors can get up close to more than 1,000 animals, including endangered species, and see exotic rainforest creatures in the tropical greenhouse.

Tel: (Fr) 1 40 79 56 01


10 May to 22 June

Art on a giant scale can be seen at Monumenta, a project that invites an international artist to fill the 13,500-square-metre, 35-metre-high glass-domed nave of the Grand Palais with a single artwork. Since the launch in 2007, artists such as Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren and the American Richard Serra have taken up the challenge; this year Russian-born couple Ilya et Emilia Kabakov, who are based in the US, are creating a utopian town, ‘L’Étrange Cité’, for visitors to explore.

Tel: (Fr) 1 44 13 17 17

Jazz Festival Saint-Germain-des-Prés

15-25 May

As the historical epicentre of the Paris jazz scene, it’s only right that the Left Bank should lead the annual celebrations dedicated to the genre. A line-up of international and local artists will perform free and ticketed shows held in venues ranging from theatres to jazz clubs. Exhibitions and a competition for rising young talent are also in the mix.

Tel: (Fr) 9 75 86 74 13

La Nuit des Musées

17 May

Take in the best galleries and exhibitions without spending a single euro during the annual museum night, when more than 1,300 French attractions open for free from 6pm until midnight. In Paris, you can soak up the night-time scene while choosing from a long list of venues, including the Musée du Louvre, the Petit Palais and writer Victor Hugo’s house.

French Open Tennis

25 May to 8 June

Sports enthusiasts will want to catch the French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, where Spaniard Rafael Nadal is set to defend his title. Play takes place on the clay courts of the Stade Roland-Garros near the Bois de Boulogne. If tickets prove hard to come by, a walk around the area is a great way to soak up the atmosphere.

Tel: (Fr) 1 47 43 51 11

Rendez-Vous aux Jardins

30 May to 1 June

Enjoy a springtime stroll through gardens of all shapes and sizes in this annual nationwide celebration, which this year has the theme of ‘L’Enfant au Jardin’. In Paris, museum gardens, parks and private homes will highlight the greener side of the capital with a programme that includes walks, talks, workshops, dance and music performances and art exhibitions.

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