Paris is always a popular holiday choice at any time of year, although traditionally, not so much in August. It doesn’t feel so many years ago that Paris was regarded as ‘dead’ in August, as the Parisians moved out to their coastal or rural holiday homes, and many restaurants and shops closed for the month. In more recent years, this is definitely no longer the case and, this year, there are plenty of reasons to visit the City of Light in August. With the centre of the city being relatively small, Paris is ideal for exploring the many attractions on foot. Taking into account the ease of getting there by Eurostar, some great exhibitions, and the current hot sunny weather, who could need more enticement?
1. Tuileries, André Le Nôtre Walk, until 1st September
The Louvre Museum is holding an exhibition-walk in the Tuileries Gardens in celebration of the fourth centenary of the birth of the famous French garden designer, André Le Nôtre. The Tuileries Gardens were a major creation by André Le Nôtre during the reign of Louis X1V, and considered one of his masterpieces, together the gardens at Versailles and Vaux-le-Comte. The walk, which is called ‘In the Footsteps of Le Nôtre in the Tuileries’ begins at the Place de la Concorde.
2. Rodin: Flesh and Marble at the Musée Rodin, until 1st September
Although you will also see a fine selection of Rodin’s statues in the Tuileries Gardens, the Rodin Museum is still very much worth a visit for its current exhibition, Flesh and Marble. The main part of the museum in the Hôtel Biron is currently being renovated, so the exhibition is taking place in the chapel. The emphasis is on the marble works of the older Rodin with fifty marble statues and a dozen models in clay and presented, which bear evidence to the importance of this material and the treatment of it by Rodin.
3. Ron Mueck exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, until 27th October
Following his previous successful exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in 2005, this current exhibition includes three new sculptures produced especially for this event, as well as six important recent sculptures. A former puppet-maker for TV (including ‘The Muppet Show’), the Australian artist is known for his creation of sculptures on a disproportionately large scale, right down to folds in the skin and the roots of the hair. The human body is thus shown in minute detail to show the different states of life from birth to adolescence to death.
4. Lichenstein at the Pompidou Centre, until 4th November
From a highly successful exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, this exhibition is now at the Pompidou Centre. Roy Lichtenstein is mainly known for his Pop Art works, dating from the early 1960’s, and his blown up comic book prints, such as “Look Mickey”, “Whaam”and “Masterpiece” are some of his best-known pieces. The exhibition starts with these classic pieces, then moves on to show other influences and experimentation by the artist, including ‘brass-n-glass’ sculptures and landscapes in the Chinese style.
The charming and intimate Bourdelle Museum, is hidden away in Montparnasse, a short walk along Boulevard Montparnasse from the Luxembourg Gardens, and is really worth a detour, on any walk in this area. Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), a pupil of Rodin, produced a number of monumental works including the modernist relief friezes at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, inspired by Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky. The museum also includes the artist’s apartment and his art studios.
Stop afterwards at the legendary La Coupole for a drink, which is situated close to the museum, in Boulevard Montparnasse. Possibly the most impressive Parisian brasserie, it is 1000 m2, and decorated in lavish Art Déco style. Once frequented by the likes of Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
6.Open Air Cinema at Parc de Villette, until 28th August
The open-air cinema takes place at the ultramodern Parc de la Villette in northern Paris. Access is generally free and visitors can take a picnic and enjoy a film each evening ranging from classics to recent hits, with many films shown in English too. Metro: Porte de la Villette or Porte de Pantin (Line 5 or 7). For programme of films, the event organizers can be contacted on: +33(0)140 037 575.
On the subject of movies, film buffs might be interested in a book called Paris Movie Walks by Michael Schürmann. Written in an informative, yet humorous style, it gives itineraries for ten walks which include famous film locations, including classics from the 1930’s and 1940’s up to the present day. Maps make it easy to follow, together with a complete index of films, and recommendations for cafés to enjoy along the way.
8. Paris Plages, until around 18th August From 9 am to midnight each day, the Seine’s banks become pedestrian with the Paris Plages offering both Parisians and visitors a stretches of sandy beaches for relaxing outdoors on deck chairs. The beaches are spread across three locations, Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette, so there is plenty of space for everyone and a great choice of free activities and entertainment.