Tuileries Garden
Musée Picasso

Cultural Activities, Sites & Events

To keep up to date with the vast cultural activities one finds in Paris, be sure to buy a copy of l’Officiel des spectacles every Wednesday (only 1 euro) at any news stand or in tobacco shops (tabac) to see the latest cinema, museum and gallery exhibitions, musical concerts, theatre and dance performances and other cultural offerings for the week in Paris.

Art Museums

Only London and New York can be considered rivals to the remarkable offerings one finds in museums and galleries in Paris. The list is endless and even long-time locals often have still not seen all the different museums Paris has to offer.

  • Louvre | Jardin des Tuileries, (1er), Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre. Undoubtedly one of the three greatest museums in the world.
  • Orangerie | Jardin des Tuileries, (1er), Métro: Concorde. Home to the magnificent and huge water lilies paintings of Impressionist artist Claude Monet.
  • Jeu de Paume | Jardin des Tuileries, (1er), Métro: Concorde. Just across the Tuileries Garden from the Orangerie. Former the tennis courts of the King of France, now converted into a Photography museum. Wonderful rotation of photography exhibitions showing new and old work from some of the great photographers from around the world.
  • La Bibliothèque Nationale de France-Richelieu | 5 rue Vivienne, (2e), Métro: Bourse, Palais Royal. This is the original location of the national library. Most of its library holdings have been moved to the new space in the 13th but they offer excellent exhibitions in photography, drawings, graphics and printmaking.
  • Musée Picasso | 5 rue de Thorigny, (3e), Métro: St. Paul. The stunningly restored late Medieval town house (Hôtel Salé) is site to an excellent collection of Pablo Picasso art works donated by the artist and his family to France.
  • Musée Carnavalet | 23 rue de Sévigné, (3e), Métro: St. Paul. A good first museum to see in Paris as it covers the history of Paris (its permanent collection is free to the public).
  • La Maison Européenne de la Photographie | 5-7 rue de Fourcy, (4e), Métro; St. Paul. photography museum in a beautiful town house in the Marais section of Paris.
  • Centre Pompidou | Place Georges Pompidou, (4e), Métro: Rambuteau or Châtelet-Les Halles. Wonderful 20th century through contemporary art collection.
  • Musée Cluny | 6 place Paul-Painlevé, (5e), Métro: St. Michel. Medieval history of Paris and France and hosts the breathtaking series of Medieval tapestries La Dame à la Licorne (The lady and the Unicorn).
  • Institut du Monde Arab | 1, rue de Fosses Saint Bernard (5e), Métro: Jussieu; Cardinal Lemoine. Showcases calligraphy, decorative arts, architecture and historical artefacts from the Arab/Islamic world.
  • Musée d’Orsay | 1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, (7e), Métro: Assemblée Nationale or Musée d’Orsay. Incomparable collection of 19th century art.
  • Musée du Quai Branly | 37 quai Branly, (7e), Métro: Pont de l’Alma or Alma Marceau. The personal project of former French president Chirac to inaugurate a museum for the First  Arts from Asian, Africa and South America.
  • Musée Rodin | 79 rue de Varenne, (7e), Métro: Varenne. As powerful as Rodin’s work is, the setting of the museum is just as remarkable.
  • Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle | rue Geoffroy St-Hilaire, (5e), Métro: Gare d’Austerlitz. Excellent natural history museum in the Jardin des Plantes.
  • Musée Jacquemart-André | 158 boulevard Haussmann, (8e), Métro: Miromesnil. The private collection of 19th century banker Edouard André and his artist wife Nélie Jacquemart, which includes paintings by Rembrandt, Fragonard, Canaletto and Tiepolo among others.
  • Grand Palais | avenue Winston Churchill, (8e), Métro: Champs Elysées-Clémenceau. A remnant from the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, its beautiful art nouveau glass roofed metal building hosts countless blockbuster exhibits along with major art and photo fairs each year.
  • Petit Palais | avenue Winston Churchill, (8e), Métro: Champs Elysées-Clémenceau. Across the street from the Grand Palais. Excellent permanent collection covering extensive historical periods up into the 20th century. Free entry into permanent collections.
  • La Bibliothèque Nationale de France-Mitterand | Quai François-Mauriac, (13e), Métro: Quai de la Gare or Bibliothèque François Mitterand. National library of France but they regularly install outstanding exhibitions in their galleries. Specializing more in graphic art (printmaking) and photography, their exhibits include contemporary and historical artists.
  • Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris | 11 avenue du President-Wilson, (16e), Métro: Trocadéro.  Free access to its permanent collection and an excellent series of contemporary art exhibits from around the world.
  • Palais de Tokyo | 11 avenue du President-Wilson, (16e), Métro: Trocadéro. The biggest contemporary art museum in the world; very big on installation art and other experimental approaches to art.
  • Musée Marmottan | 2 rue Louis-Boilly, (16e), Métro: La Muette. Also in the 16e arrondissement, lovely townhouse museum which highlights the work of impressionist painters.

Visit our Paris Museums Guide page for more details.

All PICA semester program participants will receive an art/art history student card which permits you to enter most national museum permanent collections for free while offering you reduced student prices to all other museums.

Art Centers & Galleries

Paris has far too many excellent art centers and galleries to list all of the excellent ones. However, some of the more notable ones:

Photo Galleries

  • Galerie Françoise Paviot | 57 rue Ste. Anne, (2e), Métro: Quatre Septembre.
  • Galerie Particulière | 16 rue du Perche, (3e), Métro: Temple. Strong contemporary photography from young and upcoming photographers who work in a more subjective (non-journalistic) mode.
  • Galerie Filles du Calvaire | 17 rue des Filles-du-Calvaire, (3e), Métro: Filles du Calvaire. Gallery shows photo and painting. Leans a bit toward the conceptual side but without completely abandoning the visual.
  • Polka Galerie | 12 rue Saint-Gilles, (3e), Métro: Chemin Vert. Specializing in Photo reportage.
  • Galerie Vu | 58 rue Saint-Lazare, (9e), Métro: Trinité – d’Estienne d’Orves. Contemporary photo documentary work which is visually and conceptually very strong.
  • Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson | 2, Impasse Lebouis, (14e), Métro: Gaîté or Edgar Quinet. Photo museum specializing in photo reportage like the master himself.
  • Le Bal | 6, Impasse de la Défense, (18e), Métro: Place Clichy. Recently opened gallery/museum concentrating on photojournalism and documentary photography. Nice bookstore and excellent café/restaurant.

Web Listings of Art/Photo Exhibitions

  • Exponaute.com (listing of current exhibitions in Paris; also listings for other cities)
  • Photography-Now.com (listing of Photo exhibits in Paris; also list exhibits in other cities)

Cinema

Students are strongly encouraged to regularly buy (every Wednesday) either the Pariscope or l’Officiel des Spectacles to keep up to date with the very rich cinema offerings in the cityThe French are among the world’s greatest cinephiles and Paris offers one of the greatest selection of films old and new offered anywhere in the world. Cinema offerings include the latest blockbuster Hollywood films as well as small independent films from around the world as well as classics from the past. Take note that each guide will list films as either VO or VF. VF stands for version française means a film will be dubbed from the original language into French. VO stands for version originale and means the original audio language is maintained and there will be subtitles in French Cinemas are located throughout the city but some of the most interesting independent cinemas (showing older classics) are in the 5th arrondissement around the Sorbonne. There is also the Cinematheque Francise (51, rue de Bercy, (12e), Métro: Bercy) which is always presenting new film festivals which range from classic French films series of Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut to American directors like David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch. These films are always presented in VO (version originale) with French subtitles (when the film isn’t in French).

Music Concerts

Paris is, of course, a big draw for musical performers of every style imaginable. The international names might appear at the Stade de France or Bercy but there are also many big names appearing at many of the smaller venues such as l’Olympia, la Cigale, Le Bataclan and many others. Jazz continues to be very popular in Paris and one of the great attractions of Paris is the incredible number of offerings of “world music.” France was the first to start the Fête de la Musique every June 21 during which there are literally hundreds of usually free concerts of every type of music throughout Paris in the streets and squares. Beyond this festival, Paris and France are host to dozens and dozens of music festivals every year. Click here to learn more about the Music Concert Venues in Paris.

Free concerts in Paris:

  • Classique au vert: Classical music at le Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes on Saturdays and Sundays in August and September
  • Paris Jazz Festival: Jazz music at le Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes on Saturdays and Sundays in June and July
  • Fête de la Musique: Free music concerts of every musical genre throughout the city of Paris every June 21st!

Performance Art

So many options in Paris to catch theater, opera and dance performances. Théâtre de la Ville has an excellent and reasonably priced theatre and dance schedule every year. Théâtre de Chaillot, the Opéra Garnier and the Opéra Bastille are a bit more pricey but each presents impressive musical and dance performances. The Comedie Francaise is the national theatre of France with two sites: one in 1er arrondissement near the Louvre and another, the Odéon, in the 6ème just down from the Jardin de Luxembourg. Each offers last minute tickets (1-2 hours before show) at approximately €8 for students.

Reduced Price Theater tickets in Paris

TheatresParisiensAssociés.com A good source for last minute reduced price tickets for theatre productions in Paris region.

La Comédie-Française | 1 Place Colette, (1er), Métro: Palais Royal. At 19h30 the Petit Bureau opens under the columns of the Theater on Rue de Richelieu (1er arrondissement). 95 tickets are available for the 20h30 performance at only 5 €!

Opéra Garnier | Place de l’Opéra (9e), Métro: Opera. Last minute reduced price tickets for those under 28 at the ticket office up to 30 minutes before the beginning of a performance.

Opéra Bastille | Place de la Bastille (11e), Métro: Bastille. In addition to last minute reduced price tickets for those under 28 there are also 32 standing room only tickets available for 5 € on sale beginning about an hour and a half before the beginning of a performance (ticket counter inside the Opéra).

Les “Kiosques”
Half priced tickets offered the day of a performance for many venues in Paris from 12h30 to 20h from Tuesday to Saturday and from  12h30 to 16h on Sunday.

  • Kiosque des Ternes | Terre-plein central de la place, (17e), Métro: Ternes
  • Kiosque Montparnasse | Parvis de la Gare Montparnasse, (14e), Métro: Montparnasse
  • Kiosque de la Madeleine | 15, place de la Madeleine (2e), Métro: Madeleine

Private Theaters Reduced Priced Tickets

Sports

So many opportunities to see sport in Paris. Of course Football (soccer) is the main attraction with the French national team (the men won the World Cup in 1998) as well as PSG (Paris Saint Germain) being top draws. In Paris, these games take place at the Stade de France just outside Paris in Saint Denis and are experiences not to be missed by Americans. Cycling is no where more popular than in France with the oldest and most prestigious tour in the world: the Tour de France. Taking place every July, this race circles throughout France always concluding in Paris with a final stage with several loops up and down the Champs Elysées with hundreds of thousands of spectators in the streets. Tennis is also a big attraction in France and the highlight is Roland Garros (The French Open) which takes place in the Bois de Boulogne (late May-early June) one of the parks at the edge of Paris. Being one of the four major “grand slam” tournaments, all the best men and women players in the world come every year. Rugby is another fun event for non-Europeans to take in. Even if you don’t understand all the rules, the animation by the supporters of the various teams is quite a spectacle with their chants and songs throughout the match. For those wishing to take a trip to the French Alps, every Winter there are three or four World Cup men’s and women’s competitions bringing together the best alpine skiers in the world on some of the most challenging and beautiful mountains in the world. And don’t forget Basketball, Volleyball or handball (the men are twice defending Olympic champions!), sports for both men and women which are all quite popular in France.

For those wanting to take part in your own activities, there are endless opportunities. Paris is host to numerous long distance running competitions–from 5 km up to marathons and triathlons. There is a wide range of intramural sports offered by Paris Université Club (offering swimming, track, badminton, dance, fencing, fitness tennis, volleyball and others).

Other PICA pages which may interest you: