My list of ten things to do during the next months in Paris


My laptop is a mess and I couldn't sleep last night. While it may seem as if these two relatively common occurrences have little or nothing to do with each other, they both stem from the same problem. I was trying to figure out a way to remember all of the things that I would like to do in Paris during the upcoming months. Rather than spend another long sleepless night reminding myself not to forget this or that, I decided to create a "to do" list.

Tours and activities, most of them free, offered by the parks and gardens of Paris. Depending on the day, you can help with the daily chores at the Paris Farm on April 18, discover the biodiversity in the Luxembourg Gardens on April 11, join a guided tour of the Promenade Plantée on April 27 or learn about the amphibians in Paris at the Parc Floral on April 24. Take a look at the schedule. There really is something for everyone! As all of the activities are in French, there's the added bonus of having a free French comprehension lesson at the same time.

Fountains Night Show at Versaille on Saturdays from June 16 to September 1. From the official website: When night falls the gardens are transformed into a fairytale setting in which groves and ornamental pools come alive with water spouts and colours. This year again, light artists emblazon the gardens with a thousand lights and offer strollers their surprising installations, aquatic effects in the Bassin du Miroir, lasers cutting across the night in the Colonnade Grove and a fireworks display beside the Grand Canal to end the performance. Additionally, there are Musical Fountain Shows every Saturday and Sunday from March 31 to October 28, 2012.



Prix de Diane Horse Race. Even though Sunday horse-races with family friendly activities have already started at the Hippodromes of Longchamp and Auteuil, the main event of the season is the Prix de Diane on June 17 at the Chantilly Hippodrome. In between trying to decide if I should wear the same hat as last year or look for another one, I found myself mentally packing our picnic box with baguettes, foie gras, strawberries and champagne instead of going to sleep last night. Without a doubt, this was one of the highlights of our first year in Paris! Click here to see the hats and here to see the horses.

Firemen's Ball on July 13 and 14. As we were in the United States and missed out on the Bastille Day celebrations last year, I look forward to the revelry in July.

Urban Challenge. Speaking of firemen, I wonder if I'll have the courage to attend one of their fitness sessions this year. Suitable for different fitness levels and offered at numerous parks throughout the city, it's the perfect opportunity to get in shape. The first course is free! If you survive the challenge and wish to take additional classes, a card for 10 classes is 120 €.

17th Century dress-up day and lunch on the lawn at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte on May 20. Stephane and I are disappointed that we'll miss this special event because we'll be in Boston, but we hope to attend one of the Candlelight Evenings when more than 2,000 candles illuminate the gardens every Saturday evening from May 5 to October 6. Fireworks will further enhance the celebrations on the first and third Saturday of the month.

Dinner in White (Diner en blanc) is a flash mob of thousands of elegantly dressed Parisians in white clothes who descend on a famous landmark for dinner. As they reduced the guest list from 14,000 to 8,000 last June, I'm trying to figure out how to get an invitation for this year. Any ideas? The Parisian party has spread to other cities. Take a look at this website to see if there's one near you.


Pari Rollers. Even though I've accidentally stumbled across this group of hundreds of roller bladers who speed through the city streets on Friday nights, I want to go to the starting point at Place Raoul Dautry in the 14th arrondissement to take pictures of them one evening. There's no way that I can join them because they go much too fast for me!

Equestrian Arts Academy within the Royal Stables at Versailles. After not being able to get tickets for any of the equestrian performances or training sessions in December because they were all sold-out, I was pleased to see that there are shows until July.

If you've been keeping count, you'll have noticed that there are only nine ideas because I hope that you'll help me out with number ten.

Comments

  1. Hmmm, what to suggest, what to suggest...It's a hard one since you've done so much already!!

    I was going to suggest that you and I go to the Musée Galliera (which I oddly enough, I have never been to), but it will be closed until Spring 2013. :(

    I'll think of something, but until then, it looks like you'll be pretty busy with these 9 ideas. I can't wait to read about them! Especially the white flash mob!

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    1. Oh! I didn't even know about the Musee Galliera until I read your comment but after looking at the website, I'm disappointed that it's closed! Hopefully we'll both be here in Spring 2013 and will be able to go when it re-opens.

      After reading your post on the Musee de la Vie Romantique, I want to go there.

      As for the white flash mob, I'm still trying to figure out how to get on the list. If you hear anything, please let me know!

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  2. ummmm, Roland Garros! Tennis anyone?

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    1. Roland Garros would have topped the list if I wasn't going to be in Boston at the start of the tournament. Perhaps I'll get lucky again and manage to get some last minute tickets after I return to Paris. Otherwise, I'll end up watching it on tv.

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    2. For me, the quarterfinals day during the second week is THE time to go--you usually see the top players on the big courts. Also, I do love the first week when the outer courts offer up great surprises too. Heck, any day is fine by me.

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    3. Opening day was really exciting last year, plus it's possible to get inexpensive evening tickets during the first week. Fingers crossed that I'll be able to see a bit of the action when I return from Boston. Like you, I would be happy with tickets for any day just to get inside!

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  3. Ha! Have always wanted to do that night show with fountains at Versailles. Can't wait to read about it, and see your photos. I promise to be extremely jealous!

    I racked my brain, and have come up with the following suggestions for your consideration. It's not easy. You've really covered a lot of ground!

    The Russian Quarter near Parc Monceau: I visited this area years ago... Loved it. I took a stroll in what I believe to be Paris's most beautiful park (of many!) followed by a leisurely walk through the Quarter (including the Russian Cathedral there), and dinner in a fine Russian restaurant that started with blinis, caviar and vodka, with a truly awesome number of varieties of the latter from which to choose. My idea of a great Paris outing!

    Dancing! Two options to consider, whether as an active participant or in my usual voyeur mode:

    Open-air dancing on the Seine on a summer's eve. I believe there are multiple venues, but I know there's one near the Arab Institute as well as one I've read about, at Quai Saint-Bernard.

    Dancing at the Caveau de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter. Wow... It's like finding oneself in a time capsule back to the "beat" period... Find it hard not to go there when visiting Paris. Have witnessed some truly amazingly capable dancers, and always - great music.

    I recognize that the evening hours could be inconvenient, but if you're going to need those special settings on your camera for Versailles fountain at night, I figured you might be willing to consider some other nocturnal venues!

    A bientot.

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    1. We had intended to do the night show at Versailles last year but the summer was over before we knew it. That's why I thought that I better start planning now. When we go, I promise to take lots of photos to share with you!

      A Russian restaurant in Paris - I wouldn't have thought of that on my own. Parc Monceau is one of my favorites as well! We took some visitors there a couple of weeks ago with the hopes of having a picnic on the grass. No such luck because every available spot was taken. It was a gorgeous day and everyone was outside enjoying the park. I also like watching the little kids on the pony rides. I'll see if I can find out some more information about the Russian rest. Oh, I'll also have to visit the Russian Cathedral. I went to St. Serge, the colorful Russian Orthodox Church, this week. They're going to have a big Easter celebration next Saturday.

      Dancers along the Seine? Take a look at this! I hope it brings back some good memories.
      Like you, I'm more of a voyeur than a dancer but I'll definitely check out the Caveau de la Huchette for the music. It sounds like a great place.

      Thanks for all of the suggestions!

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  4. You have a really fun list here already and some good suggestions above. Here's another nighttime activity: the Nuit Blanche art festival. I would love to go, but it's every October, and I can never come in October.

    Looking forward to living vicariously through you. :)

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    1. The Nuit Blanche Festival is a wonderful idea! Thanks for mentioning it. I remember being fascinated by Kerouac's photos from last year's events.

      You could do the Dinner in White in NYC! Here's the link for the website.

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  5. A suggestion for #10: in June, there's the "Concours international de roses nouvelles de Bagatelle" in the Bois de Boulogne. The Bagatelle park is definitely worth a visit, especially to see tulips in April, irises in May, roses in June, and water lilies in August. Enjoy!

    Regards,

    Patricia H

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    1. Very good to know! The Bois de Boulogne isn't far from where I live and I haven't been there since we moved to Paris. Irises - those are my favorite, but I'll also have to go see the roses...and maybe the tulips and water lilies! Thank you!

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    2. Bagatelle is most famous for its roses and the concours is the most notable event of the year there. I'll be in Paris in June, so I'm definitely going to visit the park.

      Patricia H

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    3. You'll be strolling the streets of Paris before you know it! With the exception of mid-month, I'll be in town most of June so let me know if you would like some company while you visit Bagatelle.

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  6. That is a great list! I've done quite a few of them and had great fun. And if the Friday night roller is too much for you, you should check out the Sunday one. It's not nearly as fast-paced and has a nice family atmosphere. C & I do it probably twice a month- it leaves every Sunday at 2:30 from Bastille. In the summer, the crowds swell into the thousands and it really is something to experience - they close the streets and everything, so Paris is literally at your feet!

    http://www.rollers-coquillages.org/

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    1. Thanks for the link and info about "Rollers and Coquillages"! I didn't know that there's a roller group on Sunday. When I took the photo of the group near the Marais, I thought it was a one time event.

      Clickable link for Rollers and Coquillages: Sunday roller group.

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  7. Well we are coming in July for the Jazz festival. Every weekend in summer they have open air concerts at the Parc Floral at Chateau de Vincennes, with world class artists. It only costs five euro entrance. There are also events all over the city, in hotels, in the street and other venues.
    We have been coming for several years. All the French families bring picnics to Parc Floral and sit on the grass amongst the lovely flowers to listen to the wonderful music that fills the parc..

    There is also a similar classical music festival in August and September.

    ...and the dancing, (jive when we attended) on quai Bernard along the Seine is one of the most fun evenings we have had in Paris.

    Denise
    Love from Bolton

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    1. When I read "July" and "Jazz Festival" my mind went immediately to where we used to live in Switzerland because there's a famous jazz festival in Montreux. Now, I'll have to pack my picnic and check out the one at the Parc Floral! For me, there's nothing like sitting outside and listening to music on a summer evening.

      Seeing the dancers along the Seine always makes me wish that I could dance. I love watching them! Last year, I regretted not having a picnic with a bottle of wine like all of the other people. I'll definitely have to do that this summer.

      Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, Denise!

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  8. MK; either a musical night at Versailles during early summer (June) to I think middle of September
    OR - visit Kiki :)

    Haven't read all your 9 suggestions but the Diner en blanc speaks definitely my name - and I've never heard of it! Fabulous shots.....
    We usually participate in a summer music 'camp' where we give our concerts at the end of the 10 days in WHITE - quite a job to find white shoes for a man!

    Bonne nuit and HAPPY JOYFUL EASTER!

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    1. I'll take the visit Kiki option, please! :)

      I definitely hope to do the Diner en Blanc - I just have to figure out how to get an invitation! If that happens, I'll need your advice on where to get white shoes for Stephane!

      Happy and joyful Easter to you, too!

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  9. Forgot to say, love the photos of the horse race!

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    1. Thanks! My sister told me that I should try panning my camera to get better action shots of the horses. I can't wait to see if it works. They're incredibly fast!

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  10. That should keep you out of mischief for a while!

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  11. Great photos of Dancers along the Seine. And the Brazilian YouTube link was perfect...

    OK. One more thought. It's not strictly "... in Paris", but perhaps still ok to suggest a visit to Monet's garden, lovely home and inspiring museum at Giverny?

    I really enjoyed my visit there, but beware of two things: buses of tourists (perhaps you could find a quiet time to visit?) and the fact that few gardens can or will ever again live up to the standard Monet set here.

    Enjoy!

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    1. Giverny, of course! That should have been in the original top nine, especially since I haven't been there yet. From what I've heard, it's always crowded but perhaps I'll have more luck if I go sooner rather than later.

      Thanks for coming up with such a great idea!

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  12. The Diner en Blanc is the BEST dining experience there is. I would add to the list; catching an outdoor spectacle in Versailles during the Mois de Moliere, also the 'Soirées aux chandelles' at Vaux le Vicomte...just for starters.

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    1. Carina, Thanks for the additional suggestions, but what I would REALLY like to know is how to get an invitation to the Diner en Blanc?!

      Seeing the black and white photos of the dinner on your blog has me even more excited about this event!

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  13. what a fun list, i have done some, but your list and the comments it triggered sparked new ideas! i love the" dinner in white" idea, now how to get an invitation?
    best, andrea aka @3samovar

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    1. Glad to hear that this post provided you with some new ideas of things to do in Paris! And yes, the big question - how do we get an invitation to the Diner en Blanc!

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  14. This looks like a really fun unsual list of thigns to do when in paris! I am visiting the city in june with my sister. We have booked one of the serviced apartments paris has to offer and we have been through the guide books one by one! Alot of them always say the same thing, The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Climb the Arc de Triomphe etc. Which are things I will definitely do but I wanted to find a list of things to do which you wouldn't find in a tour book! Rollerblading sounds like loads of fun! And tickets to see the Equestrian Arts sounds fun! I will have to do some research!

    Thanks for the post! Really insightful! Cheers!

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  15. That's the great thing about Paris - whether it's your first trip or your 10th, there's always something new to discover. There are also lots of off the beaten track kind of activities that make a pleasant change from seeing the more touristy sights. Having said that, there's a reason why so many people visit the Louvre, etc. I discovered that doing a treasure hunt is the funnest way to visit the Louvre.

    Enjoy your trip to Paris!

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