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What to do in Paris

Culture guide

With all that's going on in Paris, festivals - in the traditional "popular" sense - are no big deal. But there is an impressive array of arts events and an inspired internationalist jamboree at the Fête de l'Humanité.

The tourist office produces a biannual Saisons de Paris - Calendrier des Manifestations , which gives details of all the mainstream events; otherwise, check the listings and other Paris magazines.
Many Parisian quartiers like Belleville and Montmartre have portes ouvertes (open doors) weeks, when artists' studios are open to the public and some festivities are laid on - keep an eye open for posters and flyers.

JANUARY
La Grande Parade
New Year's Day parade on January 1 from Porte St-Martin to Madeleine.

FEBRUARY
Chinese New Year
Paris's Chinese community brings in the New Year in the 13e around Avenue d'Ivry.

MARCH
Festival Exit
International festival of contemporary dance, performance and theatre at Créteil; information from Maison des Arts, place Salvador-Allende, 9400 Créteil (tel 01.45.13.19.19).
Printemps des Rues
Free street performances atthe end of March in the areas of La Villette, Gambetta, Nation and République.
End of March/Beginning of April
Banlieues Bleus
International jazz festival in the towns of Seine-Saint-Denis (Blanc-Mesnil, Drancy, Aubervilliers, Pantin, St-Ouen, Bobigny); info tel 01.49.22.10.10.
Festival de Films des Femmes
Women's film festival at Créteil; information from Maison des Arts, place Salvador-Allende, 9400 Créteil (tel 01.49.80.38.98).
Festival du Film de Paris
Films on preview at the Cinéma Gaumont Marignan, 27-33 av des Champs-Élysées, 8e (tel 08.36.68.75.55).

APRIL
Poisson d'Avril
April Fools' Day, on April 1, with spoofs in the media and people sticking paper fishes on the backs of unsuspecting fools.
END OF MARCH/BEGINNING OF APRIL
Foire de Paris
Food and wine fair at the Parc des Expositions, Porte de Versailles (tel 01.49.09.60.00).

MAY
Fête du Travail
May Day (May 1) with marches and festivities in eastern Paris and around place de la Bastille.
MAY TO JULY
Jazz in the Parc Floral
Big jazz names give free concerts in the Parc Floral at the Bois de Vincennes (entrance to park 1.52, tel 01.43.43.92.95).

JUNE
Festival Agora
Contemporary theatre/dance/music festival organized by IRCAM and the Pompidou Centre (tel 01.44.78.48.16, ).
Festival de St-Denis
Classical and world-music festival the last two weeks in June, with opportunities to hear music in the Gothic St-Denis basilica (tel 01.48.13.06.07, ).
Fête de la Musique
On June 21, live bands and free concerts throughout the city. (tel 01.40.03.94.70, ).
Feux de la Saint-Jean
Around June 21, fireworks for St-Jean's Day at the Parc de la Villette and quai St-Bernard.
Gay Pride
Gay and Lesbian Pride march (tel 01.43.57.21.47).
JUNE TO JULY
Foire St-Germain
Concerts, antique fairs, poetry and exhibitions in the 6e (tel 01.40.46.75.12).
Villette Jazz Festival
Jazz festival at in the park and Grande Halle at la Villette (tel 01.40.03.75.75, ).

JULY
Arrivée du Tour de France Cyclistes
On the third or fourth Sunday of july, the Tour de France cyclists cross the finishing line in the avenue des champs-Élysées.
Bastille Day
On July 14 and the evening before, the 1789 surrender of the bastille is celebrated with official pomp: tanks parade down the Champs-Élysées, firework displays and concerts are put on. At night there is dancing in the streets around place de la Bastille to good French bands.
La Goutte d'Or en Fête
Held in the first week of July, a music festival of rap, reggae and raï with local and international performers (tel 01.53.09.99.22).
Paris Quartier d'Été
Music, cinema, dance and theatre events around the city (tel 01.44.94.98.00, ).
JULY 15 TO AUGUST 15
Festival de Cinéma en Plein Air
Open-air cinema for free at Parc de la Villette (tel 01.40.03.76.92).

SEPTEMBER
Fête de l'Humanité
Mº La Courneuve, then bus #177 or special shuttle from RER.
Held in the second weekend of September and sponsored by the French Communist Party and L'Humanité newspaper, this annual three-day event just north of Paris at La Courneuve attracts people in their tens of thousands and of every political persuasion. Food and drink (all very cheap), and music and crafts from every corner of the globe, are the predominant features, rather than political platforms. Info tel 01.49.22.72.72.
Journées du Patrimoine
On a weekend in mid-September, a France-wide event where normally off-limits buildings - like the Palais de l'Élysée - are opened to a curious public. Details in local press.
Techno Parade
Held in mid-September. Floats and sound systems parade from Place de la République to Pelouse de Reuilly and celebrations culminate in a big party (tel 08.36.68.94.94).
End of September to end of December
Festival d'Automne
Theatre and music festival including companies from Eastern Europe, America and Japan; multilingual productions; lots of avant-garde and multimedia stuff, most of it very exciting (tel 01.53.45.17.17).
OCTOBER
Fête des Vendanges
On the first or second Saturday in October, the grape harvest festival takes place in the Montmartre vineyard, at the corner of rue des Saules and rue St-Vincent (tel 01.53.41.18.18).
Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain (FIAC)
International contemporary art fair held at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles (tel 01.41.90.47.80).

NOVEMBER
Festival FNAC-Inrockuptibles
Dubbed Les Inrocks , a rock festival in early November, featuring lots of new names at various venues around town, put on by the book-and-record chain store FNAC.
Lancement des Illuminations des Champs-Élysées
At the end of November, jazz bands, the Republican Guard and an international star turning on the Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées.
Marjolaine
Environmental/ecological festival in early November, with more than 400 stalls in the Parc Floral, Bois de Vincennes. Everything from organic produce to Greenpeace stands (tel 01.45.56.09.09).
Mois de la Photo
A biennial event (even years). Photographic exhibitions are held in museums, galleries and cultural centres throughout the city (tel 01.44.78.75.00).
END OF NOVEMBER TO MID-DECEMBER
Festival d'Art Sacré de la Ville de Paris
Concerts and recitals of chruch music in Paris's churches and concert halls (tel 01.44.70.64.10).

DECEMBER
Le Nouvel An
New Year's Eve, December 31, means fireworks, drinking and kissing, notably on the Champs-Élysées.
Parc de la Villette (tel 01.40.03.76.92, ).

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