Paris Diary


Your guide to cultural events and entertainment in the capital this November and December

Skating along

When the winter months roll around, don’t just retreat into a world of woolly jumpers, thick coats and knitted mittens. Embrace the turn in the weather and pay a visit to Paris’s famous outdoor ice-rinks to blast away the winter blues. The city’s H�tel de Ville sees inhabitants and visitors gather for the December opening of the patinoire, which is open for around a period of three months, weather permitting. The ice-skating rink is completely free, with admission by timed ticket entry. Bring your own boots, or rent a pair for the €5 and you can take in the view across the River Seine from your very own winter wonderland. There are also lessons for those who need a little extra help (booking essential), as well as winter sports demonstrations and ice hockey mini matches (tel: (Fr) 1 44 59 58 58, If, however, you have a head for heights then the ice-skating rink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, open for two months from December onwards offers sweeping views across the Paris skyline (tel: (Fr) 8 92 70 12 39,

Get in the festive mood

It’s that time of year again – the changing of the seasons brings the advent of the Christmas festivities, with shopping excursions, delicious meals and exciting outings in the capital. The Galeries Lafayette department store on Boulevard Haussmann is renowned for its festive celebrations. In the first-floor beauty hall, a 60ft-high Christmas tree, decked out with golden ornaments and twinkling decorations, soars towards the stained-glass dome ceiling, which is marking its centenary this year (tel: (Fr) 1 42 82 34 56, Should you want to take in a nativity scene French-style, the children’s charity Apprentis d’Auteuil is running an event to support its work in helping youngsters in need. The F�eries d’Auteuil from 8-16 December features a Christmas market, concerts and children’s activities in addition to nativity scenes. This annual event is extremely popular and is expected to attract 50,000 visitors to the charity’s base at 40 Rue Jean de la Fontaine in the 16th arrondissement (tel: (Fr) 1 44 14 75 75,

Mois de la photo


Since its creation in 1980, this biennial event has helped to strengthen Paris’s standing in the international photographic community. Cultural institutions and galleries will help to give a sweeping view of photography in the City of Light. Three delegates – Agn�s de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, St�phane Wargnier et Leonor Nuridsany – will oversee nearly 80 exhibitions featuring celebrated photographers and emerging artists, plus meetings and debates. Themes include ‘Small is beautiful’ and French photography from 1955 to the present day.

Tel: (Fr) 1 44 78 75 00

Jour de l’Armistice 1918

11 November

On the most solemn day of the year, Paris plays its part in the national commemoration for those who died in World War I and other conflicts. The French President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the arches of the Arc de Triomphe, a ceremony that is repeated at monuments all over the capital. A minute’s silence is observed at the 11th hour, and churches hold services to remember those who gave their lives in the name of freedom. Later in the day, a parade files down the Champs-�lys�es, with displays from the armed forces.

F�te du Beaujolais Nouveau

15 November

The whole of France waits with bated breath for the third Thursday in November, when the Burgundy region’s annual Beaujolais Nouveau vintage is released for the season. The F�te du Beaujolais Nouveau sees wine merchants and sellers across Paris take part in the bonhomie of the viticultural event with tastings and demonstrations. Although Paris is quite a way from the vineyards, the spirit of Beaujolais Nouveau still makes its presence felt in the big city.

Tel: (Fr) 3 80 25 04 80

Orchestres en f�te

16–25 November

Run by the Association Fran�aise des Orchestres, this ten-day festival involves nearly 30 French orchestras promoting the power of music en masse at around 250 events across the country, including Paris. Although classical music is at the forefront, contemporary pieces are included as a way of encouraging a younger audience to the musical arena. Last year there were three categories: ‘concerts’, featuring orchestral performances; ‘� la d�couverte de l’orchestre’, involving open rehearsals, workshops, participatory concerts and behind-the-scenes tours; and ‘l’orchestre et l’�cole’, aimed at encouraging musical creativity among schoolchildren. The festival is expected to attract more than 100,000 spectators.

Tel: (Fr) 1 42 80 26 27,

Fashioning Fashion: Deux Si�cles de Mode Europ�enne, 1700-1915

From 13 December

Fresh from turns at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2011 and Historisches Museum in Berlin in 2012, this revealing exhibition brings together a vast collection of clothing, fabrics and designs from more than 200 years of history to illustrate the European art de vivre across the ages. Never before seen in France, the exhibition’s accessories, outfits and aesthetic objects provide a fascinating commentary on changing social tastes.

Tel: (Fr) 1 44 55 57 50

Festival d’automne � Paris

Until 31 December

Designed to celebrate the contemporary arts, this festival sees a panoply of art forms being showcased across the City of Light. Encompassing original work in theatre, music, dance, the visual arts and film, the festival began in 1972 with support from President Georges Pompidou. This year more than 40 events are expected to bring in a total audience of more than 100,000 spectators.

Tel: (Fr) 1 53 45 17 00

Le Cercle de l’Art Moderne: Collectionneurs d’Avant-Garde au Havre

Until 6 January 2013

In 1906 , the Cercle de l’Art Moderne was formed in Le Havre by artists and collectors keen to promote modern art in the northern port. The club held exhibitions, poetry readings and talks, with supporters including the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and composer Claude Debussy. The collection drew admirers from across the globe and now a selection is being shown at the Mus�e du Luxembourg in Paris, including works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (L’Excursionniste, pictured above) and Eug�ne Boudin.

Tel: (Fr) 1 40 13 62 00

Cafe Culture

Le Nemours, 2 Galerie Nemours, 75001 Paris

Tel: (Fr) 1 42 61 34 14

People-watching in Paris is something of a national pastime – and the good news is that even if you are passing through the City of Light, you can still indulge. Le Nemours is a caf� discreetly tucked away along the side of the Place Colette, named after the famous French writer who lived nearby for many years. Here Parisians and visitors alike gather at the terrasse tables not far from the Jardins du Palais-Royal for a prime position, whatever the time of day.

The thick-set stone columns of the Galerie Nemours provide shelter throughout the seasons for those sipping a caf� cr�me, or perhaps appreciating a pastis ap�ritif. In front of the tables, the colourful whirls of the sculpture above one of the exits to the Palais Royal-Mus�e du Louvre m�tro stop see a regular flow of commuters, as well as visitors to the Com�die-Fran�aise theatre and the Louvre. Keen-eyed film fans may recognise the front of the caf� from scenes in the 2010 Hollywood romantic thriller The Tourist starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

Eve Middleton

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