If you’re plotting a trip to the French capital sometime in 2020, it’s no doubt handy to have an overview of what’s worth seeing and doing this year. It’s set to be an interesting one, too, with several key cultural openings and a full roster of exhibits and other events expected to draw large crowds.
Once you’ve found your ideal time of year to visit Paris and browsed my full list of annual events & (recurring) things to do each season, peruse the suggestions below to find out what’s new to the capital in 2020.
January: Opening of the 360 Paris Music Factory
Paris is increasingly becoming a capital of musical experimentation in the 21st century, and the opening of a new creative hub called the 360 Paris Music Factory proves it.
Conceived as a space for musicians to compose, produce and share their output, the public-facing side of the sprawling new center in north Paris features a concert and performance hall.
With a capacity to seat between 195 to 300 people, the space promises to be an interesting new place for live music in the capital. Audiences are even encouraged to record and live-stream performances with the aid of robotic cameras.
It’s also likely to further revitalize and draw crowds to the Barbès district, previously little-explored by tourists due to its reputation for being a bit “gritty”. For the record, I’ve always found Barbès fascinating and worth exploring. But perception matters, and this is likely to move the needle a bit.
Learn more about the space and see the program here (in French only, but you can use Google Translate to assist in understanding the contents).
Also in January: The Golden Age of English Painting
January also kicks of the final few weeks of an intimate yet important show at the Musée du Luxembourg on the Golden Age in English Painting, running through February 16th.
See related: Visiting Paris in January? Read These Tips
Fans of Turner, Gainsborough, Reynolds and other British masters will appreciate this compelling show, featuring works on loan from the Tate in London.
February: From Cézanne to Chagall
February sees the opening of several much-awaited exhibits in Paris. First, anyone interested in Paul Cézanne’s moving impressionist landscapes of Provence should beeline to the show at the Musée Marmottan Monet that opens on February 27th.
Cézanne and the Master Painters
Cézanne and the Master Painters: A Dream of Italy juxtaposes masterpieces from the French painter with 16th-19th century works from Italian masters (El Greco, Rivera, Tintoretto and many others). The comparative show promises to cast interesting new light on the influence of these predecessors on Cézanne’s own oeuvre.
When: Through July 5th, 2020
Monet, Renoir, Chagall: Voyages to the Mediterranean
Also in February, don’t miss the third major exhibit from the recently-opened Atelier des Lumières, a digital, multisensory hommage to the work of Monet, Renoir and Chagall.
See related: What to Do in Paris in February 2020?
The much-lauded team of curators who’ve staged blockbuster exhibits on Klimt, Schiele, Van Gogh and other artists have managed to create a whole new sort of exhibit– and the crowds are following. Luckily, this one will be showing all year.
When: From February 28th, 2020 through January 2021. See more at the official website.
March: William Turner at the Musée Jacquemart-André
The current craze for English painting that seems to have gripped the capital continues in March, with the opening of a major retrospective on visionary British artist William Turner at the Musée Jaquemart-André.
Turner’s watercolors– which blend realism and surrealism and above all experiment with light in ways that inimitable– are a strong focus of this major show, which brings together some 60 works under a single roof.
When: From March 13th through July 20th, 2020. See more about the Musée Jacquemart-André in my guide to the best small museums in Paris.
Christo & Jeanne-Claude: Paris! (At the Centre Pompidou)
Whether or not you’re familiar with the artists’ zany, colorful, large-scale public transformations of public spaces, this show will offer an overview of their so-called “Parisian period”, between 1958-1964 and beyond.
It was during this period that Christo began to develop the monumental works of urban installation art that would make the pair famous.
When: From March 18th through June 15th, 2020. See more on the exhibit and buy tickets at the Centre Pompidou.
April: Re-opening of Department Store La Samaritaine
After years of anticipation, the much-beloved Parisian department store La Samaritaine is finally expected to re-open sometime this April.
Closed in 2005 due to safety concerns and questionable business decisions, the iconic 19th-century store– with its Art-Deco facade a fixture in the city landscape– will finally rise from its ashes.
Luxury-goods giant LVMH snapped it up and has staged a costly renovation that will see the new building re-open as a high-luxury hub in the city center.
It will house the department store, but also a five-star luxury hotel from the Cheval Blanc group, complete with spa and restaurants, as well as affordable housing units.
Some are applauding the return, while others lament that the old store is being transformed into a new cash cow for LVMH. I think it’s well worth a look– assuming it actually re-opens on schedule in April.
Also in April: Pompeii Exhibit at the Grand Palais
While this much-awaited exhibit actually opens in late March, it can be nearly impossible to get tickets for the first week– making an April visit potentially ideal.
Still, you’ll have to reserve tickets as soon as possible for what’s expected to be one of the year’s most popular shows at the Grand Palais.
It’s consecrated to new excavations at the archaeological site in Italy, where a catastrophic volcanic eruption buried an entire city in 79 AD. What was left behind is simply breathtaking.
When: Through June 8th, 2020. See more info at the Grand Palais.
May: See Cindy Sherman at the Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Fondation Louis Vuitton is staging a retrospective on Cindy Sherman, one of the most compelling and important photographers of the 20th century.
Read related: Visiting Paris in May– The Complete Guide
Designed in collaboration with the artist, the retrospective features some 170 works from every period in Sherman’s career, with a particular focus on those produced from the early 2010s onward. It will also showcase previously unseen images.
In tandem with the exhibit, the Foundation is showing a selection from its permanent collection called Crossing Views, chosen with Sherman’s input and meant to echo her work. Paintings, photography, sculpture, video and installation pieces are part of the special show.
When: Through August 31st, 2020
See more about the Fondation Louis Vuitton in our full guide to the contemporary arts center, and learn how to book tickets.
Also in May: Man Ray and Fashion, at the Luxembourg Museum
Opening in April, this ongoing exhibit on another major lens of the 20th century examines Man Ray’s ties to the world of fashion.
It spotlights the surrealist photographer’s close ties to the major fashion houses of the 1920s and his contributions to popular revues from the period.
When: Through July 26th, 2020
June: Opening of the Pinault-Paris Arts Center
Paris seemingly gets a new privately-owned museum or art collection every year, these days. After the opening of the Fondation Vuitton a few years ago, the arrival of the Pinault-Paris Art Collection this June seems to confirm the trend toward billionaires bankrolling culture in the capital.
Installed at the Bourse de Commerce, the former premises of the historic stock market, the contemporary arts museum reportedly cost $170m to build.
It’s slated to house highlights from Francois Pinault’s personal collection, as well as put on around 10 temporary exhibits each year. It promises to make contemporary art an more important force in the capital going forward.
Also in June: See Matisse at the Centre Pompidou
Fan of Henri Matisse? If so, beeline to the Centre Pompidou to see its mesmerizing new show marking the 150th anniversary of his death.
It’s slated to be one of the largest retrospectives to date on his singular body of work, examining every major period and key influences.
When: Through August 31st, 2020
July: The Opening of the Hotel de la Marine at Concorde
In July, the opening of the Hotel de la Marine to the public will be of interest to those interested in military history– or Parisian history more generally.
Dating to the 18th century and situated on the busy Place de la Concorde, this historically listed building has until now been closed to visitors.
Now it will open its central courtyard for free to general passers-by– offering a new place to stroll and dream in the environs. And with an inexpensive entry ticket you can explore the sumptuous interiors of the vast building, built in 1758 to store King Louis XV’s spare furnishings.
Shops, a cafe, tearoom and a restaurant from French chef Jean-Francois Piège are also part of the new offering, making the area around Concorde even more interesting.
Revolutions, 1966-1970 (Five Years That Changed the World)
In July, why not ride the laid-back summer ambience and go see the ongoing show “Revolutions, 1966-1970″ at the Grande Halle de la Villette?
This sweeping sociological look at the five years that deeply transformed politics and culture is all but guaranteed to transport you elsewhere. From the events of May 1968 in Paris to the revolutionary music and culture scene in London and Woodstock, the show is more than a nostalgic blast from the past.
It’s an intelligent consideration of the social and political forces that made this revolutionary moment possible.
When: Through August 30th, 2020. See more info at the Grande Halle de la Villette.
After the show, make sure to explore the sprawling, resolutely modern Parc de la Villette. Here’s why it’s worth a visit.
August: Visit Some Recently Re-Opened Museums
August isn’t generally a time for big openings in Paris. Most locals are away, many businesses close up shop for the summer holidays, and things grind to a nice, lazy near-halt.
But in addition to sprawling out on the grass with a good Parisian picnic somewhere and taking in some summer jazz shows, you can take advantage of the lull to explore a few museums that re-open in spring and summer of 2020.
Related: Best Independent Galleries in Paris
The Musée Cernuschi, a wonderful collection dedicated to Asian art, re-opens its doors in early spring 2020.
Read more about why I’m exceptionally excited about this revamp in my full guide to the Carnavalet and its fascinating permanent exhibit.
Also consider checking out the Maison Victor Hugo, a delightful museum on the Place des Vosges dedicated to the famed French author of Les Misérables. It opens once again in early summer 2020.
See where the author lived and worked and browse artifacts and documents related to his prolific body of work.
Finally, the Musée des Egouts (Sewer Museum) re-opens in July 2020. Just avoid on a really hot, sweaty day, when the odor may be a little much…
September: Check Out La Fab, Agnès B.’s Art Collection
While this one actually opens in February (meaning you can see it much earlier than September), the post-August period is– according to me, at least– ideal for checking out newer cultural spaces and centers. It’s an energetic time of year when locals return from summer vacations and take in fresh approaches or places.
“La Fab”, funded by the Agnès B. Foundation, is yet another new space dedicated to contemporary arts. Part gallery– it’s slated to house the personal art collection of the eponymous fashion designer– and part creative space for artists to work and exhibit, it’s set to open in the resolutely modern 13th arrondissement.
My take? is yet another place that perhaps marks Paris in the 21st century as a center for bold new creative approaches.
October: Explore Europe’s Largest New Food Hall
The food-oriented among you will likely be happy to learn about this year’s opening of Europe’s largest gastronomic hall, slated to see the light of day in close reach of the Montparnasse train station.
Called the Food Hall Food Society, the enormous new space within the Ateliers Gaité retail concept is slated to house at least 35 food stalls and bars over some 5,000 square meters and three floors.
From breakfast to lunch, snacks and dinner, the hall will be a new hub in south Paris for gourmet discovery. It will also host culinary workshops and events
Sure, it’ll be located in a mall– but it’s a “next-generation mall” (whatever that means) created by a group of architects from the Netherlands. Presumably, that means it will lack the humdrummery of your typical shopping center.
While I can’t know for sure when the hall will open– the exact date in 2020 hasn’t been announced– let’s hope it’ll see the light of day by October. Autumn in Paris is ideal for a little food-related discovery, anyway.
November: Picasso and Rodin. Two Comparative Shows.
Juxtaposing the work of a great Cubist painter and one of France’s most prolific and masterful sculptors sounds like an unusual feat. And it is one.
This unusual dual event will see two museums– the Musée Picasso and the Musée Rodin– stage separate but tightly interrelated exhibits later in 2020 that explore the oeuvre of both artists.
Exposing the artistic ties between artists that have rarely been considered in a comparative context, the joint shows should offer some interesting, fresh perspectives on both.
December: See the Morozov Collection at the Fondation Vuitton
Finally, when you’re not enjoying year-end holiday festivities such as Christmas markets Paris, December can make an ideal time to check out this arresting show at the Fondation Vuitton.
Drawn from the collection of two Russian brothers and art aficionados, the Morozov Collection brings together 140 impressionist and modernist masterpieces from the likes of Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.
These precious and little-seen works were shown together for the first time in St Petersburg last year, and in 2020 you can see the collection in Paris.
This is certainly a good way to find a little contemplation and calm amid the Christmas music and crowds.
When: From October 13th, 2020 through August 31st, 2021
Planning Your Trip for 2020? Here’s More Advice
It can be more than a little overwhelming to plot a trip abroad, especially if it’s your first time overseas. To start, I recommend my guide to the 10 best things to do in Paris on a first trip.
Hoping to explore the city in a less structured way and form a more authentically local picture of it? See this short video on some of the less touristy neighborhoods of Paris, and browse my numerous features on off-the-beaten-path things to see and do in the capital.
I recommend searching well in advance for deals on flights, hotels and tours. If you’re flying, try to book several months ahead of time to lock in the best rates (via Skyscanner). If you prefer taking the train, you can book train tickets and discount passes over at Rail Europe.
Meanwhile, I recommend looking into a decent travel insurance package for your peace of mind. You can browse and select different packages over at World Nomads.
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