Paris City Guide for Art Lovers
La Vie en Rose

By Shira Wolfe 

Don’t you wish you could step into Paris from the past for a week, gallivanting around 1920s Paris with characters like Salvador Dalí, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway? My favourite sensational Paris art story comes from a friend whose mother used to be a model in Paris in the 1970s. As these things go, she happened to meet Dalí himself, and soon became one of his muses. One day, she visited him at his hotel, only to find the place in uproar. Dalí’s pet ocelot Babou, who accompanied the eccentric artist nearly everywhere on a leash and in a studded collar, had escaped from his hotel suite and nearly made it out onto the busy street. What had stopped him? The revolving doors of the hotel lobby, which deeply confused the poor animal!


Granted, these artist-extraordinaires have all passed on by now, but you can still find weird and wonderful artistic souls and endless jaw-dropping art all over the city. On the occasion of the 45th edition of FIAC, which will take place from 18 to 21 October 2018 in Paris, we guide to some of the best spots in the city. Besides some of the absolute must-see classics for any art lover, this article includes some Parisian gems that you might not have heard about yet and that will make you fall in love with the city and its art scene even more.


MUSEUMS

The Louvre


You can’t not go to the Louvre when in Paris. But you’ll have to resist the urge to re-enact the scene from The Dreamers when a young American filmophile and his beautiful Parisian sibling friends in 1968 emulate the running-through-the-Louvre scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 film Bande a Part. Running is strictly forbidden in the Louvre these days! But you’ll get to wander the halls and fall in love with Venus de Milo, Amor and Psyche, and many many more…

Try to avoid the massive crowds by going on Wednesday or Friday evening, or accessing the museum through one of the additional entry points – the underused Porte de Lions or the Carrousel du Louvre through the shopping centre. You can also buy tickets in advance at any FNAC bookstore, and enter the museum through the Passage Richelieu. And why not explore some of the less overhyped parts of the Louvre? We suggest skipping the Mona Lisa and instead focusing on less flooded parts of the museum with equally stunning art.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday – 09:00 – 18:00
Wednesday and Friday – 09:00 – 22:00
Closed on Tuesdays

Read more here.

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Musée d’Orsay


This museum was established in the former Orsay railway station, which was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The museum opened to the public in 1986, showing art from the western world between 1848 and 1914. Showstoppers include Manet’s Olympia and Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe, Courbet’s The Origin of the World, Degas’ The Ballet Class, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and a whole collection of Gauguins and Monets.

Closed on Mondays
Thursday – 09:30 – 21:45
All other days – 09:30 – 18:00

Read more here.

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Centre Pompidou


Paris’s answer to large-scale contemporary art is Centre Pompidou, the huge museum with the controversial architecture by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers – whose concept was to turn the building inside out, so as to show all the inner workings of the building (pipes etc.) on the outside. Centre Pompidou opened in 1977, and started including major figures from modern art like Giorgio de Chirico, Rene Magritte, Piet Mondriaan, Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein. Probably its biggest selling point is the world’s most famous toilet, Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal, the origin of conceptual art!

Wednesday-Monday – 11:00 – 21:00
Closed on Tuesdays

Read more here.

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Palais de Tokyo


The Palais de Tokyo, which first opened in 2002, occupies the entire west wing of the building shared with the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (which is located in the east wing). It has a total surface area of 22,000 sq. m., which makes it the largest site devoted to contemporary art and creativity in Europe. In the words of its president: “ [T]he Palais de Tokyo is a space that welcomes and is driven by living artists, that is politically engaged without being dogmatic, that is serious without being arrogant – it is joyful, casual and profound, all at once. A one-of-a-kind center for contemporary artistic creation, it takes us on a poetic and transgressive journey where one does not reflect on art but rather with art, and in so doing it transforms us.”

Wednesday-Monday – 12:00 – 24:00
Closed on Tuesdays

Read more here.

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Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Fondation Louis Vuitton is a real must-see. The already iconic building was designed by the visionary Frank Gehry, and is in itself a good enough reason for your visit. The Fondation’s aim is to promote and support contemporary art for a wide French and international audience. The permanent collection is split up into four categories: Contemplative, Pop, Expressionist, and Music & Sound. Twice a year, extremely well selected temporary exhibitions showcase modern and contemporary art. Coming up is the exhibition ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat – Egon Schiele’ (3 October 2018 – 14 January 2019).

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 12:00 – 19:00
Friday: 12:00 – 21:00
Saturday-Sunday: 11:00 – 20:00
Closed Tuesdays

Read more here.


GALLERIES

Galerie Perrotin

Pieter Vermeersch. Photo Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin

Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery in the Marais is housed in an 18th century mansion. You’ll find big contemporary names such as Sophie Calle, Maurizio Cattelan, JR and Takashi Murakami here.

Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 – 19:00

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Almine Rech

Eric Mack & Torey Thornton, ‘Extensions Made To Trouble Transformation’. Courtesy of Almine Rech

Almine Rech Gallery focuses on minimal and conceptual art, and artists like James Turrell, John McCracken, Joseph Kosuth, Jeff Koons, and Julian Schnabel, among others, are represented by the gallery. The gallery also includes new artists in its program. Consider combining your visit with a visit to its neighbour, Galerie Perrotin!

Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 – 19:00

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Galerie Kamel Mennour

View of the exhibition “Double Eye Poke: Lynda Benglis, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman”, Kamel Mennour

Kamel Mennour has become one of the most important gallerists in Paris over the years. He represents both established contemporary artists like Anish Kapoor, Ugo Rondinone and Daniel Buren, and promising emerging artists. The gallery is housed in a 17th century hôtel particulier on Paris’s Left Bank.

Tuesday-Saturday: 11:00 – 19:00

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Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Daniel Richter at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac specialises in international, contemporary art and represents around 60 artists and several renowned estates. Thaddaeus Ropac has two gallery spaces in Paris, one in the Marais (spanning four flours) and one in Paris Pantin (in a 5000 square metre former 20th century ironworks factory in the North East of Paris). Thaddaeus Ropac represents big contemporary names like Adrian Ghenie and Elizabeth Peyton.

Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 – 19:00


HOTELS

Hotel Raphael

Want to pretend you’re living in a movie? Book yourself a room or suite at the five-star Hotel Raphael, where Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant lived while filming the 1963 romantic comedy Charade, and where several movies were shot, among which Wes Anderson’s exquisitely stylised and whimsical short film Hotel Chevalier starring Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman. Room prices start around €315 per night.

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Hotel le Bellechasse

Our next pick is this boutique hotel, designed by none other than Christian Lacroix, who created 7 different universes throughout the 33 different rooms – Patchwork, Avengers, Saint-Germain, Tuileries, Mousquetaires, Jeu de Paume, and Quai d’Orsay. The hotel oozes Parisian neo-classicism and bohemianism, and it is literally minutes away from the Musée d’Orsay and close to the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. Rooms are around €350 a night.

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Hotel des Académies et des Arts

The Hotel des Académies et des Arts is a beautiful boutique hotel near the Luxembourg Gardens and Montparnasse, dedicated to the creative arts. Revel in the rich artistic history of the neighbourhood, where Modigliani had his studio and where Gaugain and Giacometti studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière! This place lives and breathes art: painter Jérôme Mesnager decorated its spaces with his famous ‘white bodies’, and Sophie de Watrigant’s sculptures adorn the staircases. The hotel even has a video art lounge, screening videos of artists, and you can find all kinds of beautiful art books to read in the lounge. To top it all off, the hotel offers different room categories in styles like: Man Ray, Rulhmann, Comedienne, and Rive Gauche. Room prices start at around €125 a night.

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Drawing Hotel

The Drawing Hotel is located in the very heart of Paris, just minutes away from the Louvre. The rooms are designed and furnished by French and international designers and architects. And the best part? Six artists were invited to adorn the corridors of the hotel with their drawings and paintings. The hotel even has an art concierge, who is there to provide guests with information on the Paris art scene, propose a selection of art events, and organise excursions to the city’s exhibitions and art world events. Prices start at around €215 a night.

 


FOOD

Chez Julien

Chez Julien is a Paris institution. It’s been around for over 100 years and is a historical monument located in the beautiful Marais neighbourhood. The interior will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time, and the food will make you want to come back for more. Chef Helmi Derbal knows his truffles, and incorporates them into classic French dishes with a mouthwatering result.

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Le Grand Bain


If you want to venture a bit off the beaten track to one of Paris’s coolest and grungiest streets, in the neighbourhood of Belleville, check out Le Grand Bain. Chef Edward Delling-Williams has an ever-changing menu of delicious small plates to share – lots of beautiful vegetable dishes, but also meat and fish which you’ll be fighting your dining companions over. Fantastic food and wine with cool clientele, on a street filled with amazing graffiti art. Enough to keep you occupied for quite some time!

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L’Assiette

L’Assiette looks like the Paris bistro from your dreams – worn wooden tables and chairs, beautifully painted ceilings, and rich French classics executed to perfection. The restaurant is located in the 14th arrondissement, near the Catacombs. Since it’s far from the city centre, it means you get to enjoy a local-filled restaurant and escape the touristy bustle of other parts of the city.

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Septime

Septime is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in Paris. The only problem is, they’re so beloved that it’s pretty hard to get a reservation. But once you’re in, it’s worth all the trouble! Chef Bertrand Grebaud creates scrumptious modern bistro dishes, and the wine pairings are excellent.


SHOPPING

Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen

Paris’s flea markets are famous for the amazing gems you can dig up there, and Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, north of Montmartre near Porte de Clignancourt, is one of the city’s all-time favourites. It hosts no less than 15 markets where antique dealers, designers, artisans and artists sell their wares. Find anything from vintage clothes from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s and second-hand books to incredible furniture from the 18th and 19th century.

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Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette Haussman has been a Paris institution since 1894. The huge department store offers the crème de la crème in terms of fashion, luxury items, homewares, accessories and food. Treat yourself to an afternoon of browsing and let Parisian fashion capture your heart.

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Yvon Lambert Bookshop

The Yvon Lambert Bookshop specialises in art books, exhibition catalogues, artist books, rare and out of print books, limited edition prints, posters and art objects. The shop has an incredibly vast range of titles from all over the world, and you can expect to find out of print works by the likes of Nan Golden and Andres Serrano. Yvon Lambert now has two spaces in Paris’s Marais neighbourhood, the original bookshop, and a new bookshop with a gallery attached to it.

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Artazart

Find Artazart in the 10th Arrondissement. The shop is a paradise for design, architecture, photography, contemporary arts, and lifestyle lovers. With a fantastic range of books and magazines, you can spend all afternoon browsing in this wonderful, welcoming shop. They also sell artist’s prints and design objects.

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0fr.

This cult bookshop-gallery in the Marais was opened in 1995 by siblings Alexandre and Marie Thumerelle. Their motto is: “Beautiful books and ideas”. Here, you can find countless books and magazines on art, architecture, photography, fashion and music. Vintage and newly issued magazines, 0fr.’s self-published Guide Paris, a curated handbook on Paris’s local scene, art prints… 0fr. has it all. Not to mention the weekly exhibitions, events and performances in the gallery space.