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What to See in Paris this Summer

Paris may all but grind to a halt in August, but the cultural scene stays alive and happening all summer. Art and music lovers will find plenty to keep them busy, indoors and out, all across the city.

Gerhard Richter: Panorama

Centre Pompidou, through Sept. 24

The must-see show of the summer, Gerhard Richter: Panorama follows the five-decade career of Europe’s leading contemporary painter. Richter’s wildly diverse oeuvre ranges from bursts of abstract expressionist color to ethereal monochromes and the iconic photorealist paintings. If you missed the show in London and Berlin, now’s your chance to view the lifetime achievement of a modern master.

Inside Tip: The Louvre’s companion exhibit, Gerhard Richter: Drawings and Other Works on Paper (through 17 Sept) covers 50 years of the artist’s graphic works, drawings, and other works on paper. An enlightening complement to the Pompidou retrospective.


Misia: Queen of Paris

Musée d’Orsay, through September 9

A glimpse into the life of one of Paris’s great muses, Misia: Queen of Paris spans the years between the Belle Époque and the Roaring Twenties. Misia’s brilliance inspired the artists of her time, who immortalized her in their work: Bonnard, Vuillard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, and her friendship and patronage extended to the likes of of Satie, Picasso, Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Stravinsky, Cocteau, and Chanel. Misia is brought vividly to life via artworks, documents and the accounts of her contemporaries.

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Inside Tip: Dine in splendor under the sparkling chandeliers, gilded moldings, and painted ceilings of the museum’s newly restored Belle Époque restaurant. (Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11:45 am to 5:45pm, and until 9:00 pm on Thursdays.)

Histoires de voir: Show and Tell

Fondation Cartier, through October 21

By exploring so-called "naïve" "primitive" and "self-taught" works of art, Histoires de voir: Show and Tell gives voice to artists and communities of artists who "look upon the world with wonder." A joyous tribute to a fresh and exuberant vision, with sculpture, paintings, drawings, and multi-media. Perfect for art lovers of all ages.

Inside Tip: Don’t miss the special family visits and workshops for kids on Wednesday and Saturday.


Joana Vasconcelos

Versailles, through 30 September 2012

Following on the heels of Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami, French-Portuguese sculptor Joana Vasconcelos is the first woman to exhibit at the Chateau of Versailles. The artist evokes the presence of the legendary women who inhabited Versailles through 17 monumental works designed for the château, including a giant pair of court shoes fashioned from stainless steel pots and cutlery.

Inside Tip: Sample the bounty from Louis XIV’s private kitchen gardens, designed by the legendary Le Nôtre. Le Potager du Roi gives tours of the gardens and offers freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, along with accessories with the gardens’ emblem, to the public.


Paris Jazz Festival 2012

Parc Floral de Paris, thourgh July 29

The city’s hotly anticipated jazz event, Paris Jazz Festival, is held in Paris’s most beautiful park. For the price of admission to the park ($7.00, children 7 and under free) visitors can hear the leading lights in jazz in an extensive series of afternoon and evening concerts. For classical music lovers, the Festival Classique au Vert (August 4-September 16) offers a superb program of classical music every Saturday and Sunday at 4:00 pm. Each weekend has a different theme: Music and Poetry, Music and Nature, Music and Danse, and more. Stroll the park’s 40 acres of lush botanical gardens, settle in for a picnic, or grab a bite at the park’s café or tearoom. Perfect for families, the children’s playground is Paris’s largest and includes a suspended tree park.

Inside Tip: Start with a visit to the magnificent Chateau de Vincennes, France’s best-preserved medieval castle and stronghold. The Parc Floral de Paris lies just behind the chateau.


Scènes d’Été

Parc de la Villette, July 7- August 25

Paris’s third largest park, La Villette is home to Cité de la Musique, Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, and La Géode, a state-of-the-art IMAX theater. Each summer, the park hosts a hugely popular series of summer outdoor cultural events, including music, dance, and art exhibitions, called Scenes d’Ete. This year’s program includes an outdoor exhibition of photographs by artist-photographer Li Wei, modern dance performances by Compagnie XY, African music, hip hop, and a musical homage to the great tango composer Astor Piazzolla.

Inside Tip: Cité de la Musique, Paris’s top music venue offers world-class performances of every musical genre from medieval times to the present.

Thinking of a trip to Paris?

For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant reocmmendations, as well as the best planning advice, check out our Paris Travel Guide.

Photo credits: Gerhard Richter / Centre Pompidou, © Gerhard Richter, 2012; Histoires de Voir: Show and Tell / Fondation Cartier © Francisco da Silva. Photo © André Morin; Paris Jazz Festival: © Maëlle Hénaff; Misia / Musée d’Orsay © Musée d’Orsay; Vasconcelos – Versailles: Photo crédit : Château de Versailles/ DMF, Lisbon/Courtesy Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

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