Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris © McCarthy

We’ll try to stay up to date with the constant stream of interesting events taking place in Paris and in France through this Paris culture blog. Already, we have a rich collection of information about life in Paris on the pages of our site:

Cultural Highlights in Paris:

We’re always trying to add new and updated information to help our students get the most out of this amazingly rich city. One can never get to the end of all the possibilities, be it knowing all the best restaurants, the best cafés, seeing the best gallery or museum exhibits because there will always be new ones to discover!

Check out our paris culture blog entries below for some of our latest tips and discoveries of the best that Paris offers!

Restaurants and Eating Options in Paris

Paris Café

Paris Café

Restaurants Universitaires

Where to find a good restaurant in Paris? It’s not so much where, but which ones–there are good quality restaurants in every neighborhood! For the budget conscious student there are Restaurants Universitaires with their amazingly affordable prices: 3 course meals for about 3 euros (for those with a student card).  These won’t offer a great gourmet experience but you’ll always get a good balanced meal. For a special night out Paris has some of finest and trendiest restaurants in the world. Luckily, there are also countless options in between. Our list focuses on food options for the budget conscious student. While Paris is not a cheap city, it does have some reasonable and affordable options for eating.


Outside of the Restaurants Universitaires, there are also countless Boulangeries throughout the city.  Here you’ll find good quality sandwiches, quiches and sometimes pizza slices for under 5 euros or under 8 euros for a formule (sandwich, drink and desert). We don’t make too many specific recommendations in our list as every neighborhood already has countless options. Try one on your regular routes in Paris, chances are it will be pretty decent.

Food Trucks

A relatively new phenomenon, Paris has seen the development of more and more food trucks throughout the city. The difference from most of the food trucks found in North America: many of these offer really top quality food. Le camion qui fume (Smoking Van) was one of the first, specializing in gourmet hamburgers but there are many more in the list you’ll find below.

Ethnic Restaurants

World capital that Paris is, you’ll find food from everywhere in the world. Specialities from all over  France and from every continent in the world.  And as the French are very demanding about the quality of their food one mostly eats well in Paris.

We have put together an always-growing list of food options listed by neighborhood (arrondissement) in Paris and some nearby towns. We’ve added a price code to help identify restaurants which are really good deals (€), reasonably priced (€€) or a bit pricey (€€€). The lists often include short descriptions of the types of food to be found or other unique aspect to the restaurant.

Check out our full listing here:

Summer Festivals in France

Fête de la Musique-June 21

Fête de la Musique-June 21 © McCarthy

France is definitely a world leader when it comes to festivals and the Summertime is especially rich. The options are endless: art festivals big and small, literature (focusing on novels, poetry or children’s literature), music (jazz, classical, baroque, pop, world music and more), dance (ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary), theatre (beginning with the biggest, best known festival in Avignon which focuses more on recent theatre pieces to smaller festivals throughout the country), photography (from the oldest, most famous photo festival in the world in the South of France at Arles to smaller affairs focusing on landscape, photojournalism, portraiture and more). And of course there are outdoor cinema festivals showing both classic and recent film releases from around the world.

Here’s just a tiny sampling of some of the options this Summer:

Paris Region:

  • Paris l’été (July 17-August 5) Dance, theatre, music and circus performances.
  • Solidays (June 23-25) Pop music festival
  • Lollapalooza (July 22-23) With the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alt-J, The Pixies, Lana del Ray and others.
  • Festival Chopin (June 17-July 14) Classical music by young virtuoso pianists.
  • Paris Jazz Festival (June 17-July 30) The stars of the next Jazz generation from around the world.
  • Afropunk Festival (July 15-16) Mos Def and others.
  • Days Off (June 30-July 10) Pop, Rock and Folk music. Some of the performances in the new and stupendous Philharmonie concert hall. Devandra Banhart among others.
  • Rock en Seine (August 25-27) Franz Ferdinand, The Kills, PJ Harvey and others at the beautiful Parc de St. Cloud just outside Paris.
  • Classique au Vert Festival (August 5- September 17) Classical music in the beautiful Parc Floral de Paris.
  • Festival Django Reinhardt (July 6-9) All star cast of jazz and pop musicians in honor of the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt from the early 20th century (Avishai Cohen, Roberto Fonseca, Asaf Avidan, Trombone Shorty and others).
  • Films sous les étoiles (June 22-24) Outdoor cinema at the Parc St. Cloud with a thematic of female characters (Thelma & Louise, the wonderful Persepolis by Marjan Satrapi and more).
  • Les Etés de la Dance (July 4-22) With the superstar Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe headlining just outside Paris at Boulogne-Billancourt.

Highlights from the rest of France:

  • Les Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles (July 3- September 24) The oldest (more than 40 years now) and most famous photo festival in the world in the stupendously beautiful town of Arles with its beautifully preserved Roman Amphitheater. More than 40 photo exhibitions from around the world displaying some of the most exciting recent (and historical) creations in photography. Brings together the best of the photo world every year.
  • Festival d’Avignon (July 6-26) Theater festival which began after World War II in the gorgeous town of Avignon (with its beautiful 14th century architecture dating from the nearly 70 year period when the Pope lived, not in Rome, but in Avignon). Festival presents old (Shakespeare’s Hamlet will be presented this year) and new theatre with young and upcoming performers and directors as well as already established stars (Juliette Binoche).
  • Festival International d’Art Lyrique (July 3-22) You like Opera music, then Aix en Provence is the place to be this July! Classics such as Carmen, Don Giovanni, Eugène Onegin and others are on tap this Summer with extra-ordinary performers and musicians.

European Festivals

While there are enough festivals to fill a lifetime in France alone, you may wish to take advantage of the central location of France to catch some of the other European festivals this Summer.

  • Venice Biennial (July 21-November 13) The most famous art festival in the world in Venice with hundreds of art exhibitions. And you get to enjoy the great beauty of Venice, Italy at the same time!
  • Montreux Jazz Festival (June 30-July 15) The long-standing Swiss Jazz festival continues with some of the greats like Herbie Hancock.
  • Roskilde Festival (June 24-July 1) A little farther afield up in Denmark but this music festival, with 175 different performers covering electro, pop and rock music might be worth the trip!
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 4-28) Celebrating its 70th year this Summer! Music, Dance, Theatre, Opera, Visual Arts, they have it all here.

Paris Neighborhood Highlights

Musée Picasso

Musée Picasso © McCarthy

So many highlights to see in Paris! Short-term visitors and even year-long study abroad students can get caught up in visiting the same sections of Paris over and over. Sure, the Marais is wonderful but it’s not the only interesting part of Paris!

The PICA website provides a list of the countless Paris highlights. We list some of the main highlights in each of the 20 different arrondissements (neighborhoods) in Paris. Spend enough time in Paris wandering around and you’ll come up with your own list, but here are some good suggestions to help you discover highlights in each neighborhood of Paris.

One of the special charms of Paris is how variety its various neighborhoods can be. There is the hilltop Montmartre neighborhood which can feel like one is in the provinces. Belleville has long been home to recently arrived immigrants to France. The Marais district holds the core of the remaining Medieval architecture in Paris. The Latin Quarter is the historic education center of Paris. There is unity and uniqueness throughout Paris which underlines the importance of going beyond the world-famous sites and seeking out the real and authentic Paris of the parisiens.

Check out and their list of places to visit in each arrondissement of Paris: Architectural & Cultural Highlights of Paris

And check out the PICA Paris Neighborhoods page for more ideas about what to see and visit.

Paris Vintage Clothing Shops

Paris is, of course, one of the great fashion capitals in the world with numerous Fashion Week events each year displaying the best new offerings of world famous fashion brands. However, not everyone has the budget to high prices of high fashion. No need to worry! Paris is filled with countless vintage clothing shops, each with its own specialities. While some of the clothing does date back several decades others focus instead on recently discarded famous brand clothing. Prices are variable, with some shops selling “by the pound” (i.e. by weight) and others which can be quite pricey.

Take a look at our Vintage Clothing Shop list.

Study Abroad in Paris

University Studies in Paris

Art History Class

Art History Class

Come to Paris for your Study Abroad experience! Amazing city filled with history and culture. Centrally located to allow easy and quick access to many of the great European capitals.

Bookmark the PICA site and return regularly. Always developing new programs and classes and we regularly update our blog and our information pages to help students discover as much of what Paris has to offer (recommended restaurants, shopping, museums and other cultural events are regularly updated on our site).

PICA offers classes in Art History/Culture, Photography, Drawing, Printmaking, Bookmaking, French language and others offered by a passionate and devoted team of experienced teachers. All classes offered in English (with the exception of French language classes). Partnered with the Institut Catholique for French language courses as well as a selection of history classes in English (Cinema, Fashion, Art & Architecture).

We intentionally keep our program small so students will be much more than a number.

Check out these pages for more information about PICA’s offerings for Paris  study abroad programs: