Think Paris and 2024, and the Olympics likely first come to mind. And yes, they’re the major Parisian event this year. But there’s so much more that the City of Light has to offer throughout the coming twelve months, including some major anniversary celebrations, and a monumental reopening to cap off an action-packed year …
9th February-5th January 2025: Egypt of the Pharaohs at the Atelier des Lumières
The Atelier des Lumières, Paris’s first digital art museum, has been holding critically acclaimed and crowd-pleasing immersive exhibitions since its 2018 opening in an 11th arrondissement former steel foundry. Having celebrated the work of such European luminaries as Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dalí and Paul Cézanne, this year the museum is turning its attention east with a blockbuster show that delves into the mysterious, exotic world of Ancient Egypt.
It’s an inspired idea. After all, Paris has history with Egyptomania. Just think of the Luxor Obelisk of Place de la Concorde (a 3,000-year-old gift from Egypt in the 1830s), which happens to align with the pyramid of the Louvre — a museum that boasts a mind-boggling collection of Egyptian antiquities.
The Atelier is, of course, a whole new approach to showcasing and celebrating art, and this immersive style speaks to people — especially children — who want more from a museum experience, who expect all the bells and whistles of the latest technology. So, add this exhibition to your 2024 Paris itinerary, especially if you’re in town with kids. For more information, click here.
26th March-14th July: Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism at the Musée d’Orsay
In the early 1870s, a group of young, likeminded painters, who would become celebrated as the Impressionists, found themselves increasingly frustrated by the Parisian art world’s refusal to accept their paintings — works that captured the fleeting nature of the outdoors and of scenes of modern life with light, unblended brushstrokes. Worse yet, many critics mocked their art, which was regularly rejected by the Salon — the official annual exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. And so, in 1874 Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, Berthe Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne and others decided to bypass the Salon, and hold their own exhibition. Critics were vicious, and particularly ridiculed Monet’s Impression, Sunrise — the painting that ended up ironically inspiring the name of the rebels’ genre. But the Impressionists had the last laugh, for their art has long been widely revered.
Not to mention being a huge drawcard for the Musée d’Orsay. Which is why the museum is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the pivotal rebel exhibition with Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism. As part of the show, a selection of the works from that exhibition will be displayed alongside paintings from the official Salon, to put into perspective the initial shock these Impressionists made on a conservative, Classical-loving Paris, and just how innovative and iconoclastic these artists were for their times.
The exhibition will also feature a virtual reality component, where visitors can ‘stroll’ along the graceful Boulevard des Capucines of 1874, and ‘drop in’ to the studio of legendary photographer Nadar, who allowed his friends to use his space free of charge. For more information, click here. Pre-purchasing your tickets is highly recommended.
April: Spring Fever!
While springtime officially starts in March, when daffodils burst into bright colour and blooming magnolia trees grace the city’s gardens with their loveliness, April in Paris is the real sweet spot of the year, with the city awash in watercolour shades of pink and purple: cherry blossom, wisteria, lilac … It’s also the month when rooftop and outdoor terraces open, ideally shaded by flowering chestnut trees. Ah, April in Paris … it’s enough to make you break out in song!
May: A Month for Romantics
If you adore beautiful things (and doubtless you do, being a Paris lover!), May 2024 is the Parisian month for you. Not only will the city be beautifully perfumed — with markets brimful of early summer berries and full-blown peonies — but two events will particularly have your senses swooning.
Firstl up, the Opéra de Paris is bringing back to the glamorous Palais Garnier (above) its classic, emblematic ballet Giselle. The ultimate Romantic ballet — all fluttering emotion and Gothic drama — Giselle was originally performed in Paris in 1841, at the high point of Romanticism, and saw ballerinas first dance in white tutus and en pointe. Click here for more information.
Another must-see this month is an exhibition devoted to the early Romantic painter Théodore Géricault (who died 200 years ago) and his love of horses. Géricault’s Horses will be hosted, quite appropriately, at the Musée de la Vie Romantique. Make sure to stay on for tea and treats in the garden café, where the roses should be coming into fragrant bloom (above).
Speaking of museums, May 18 also sees the 20th edition of the annual Nuit des Musées, where the city’s monuments to art stay open, for free, until midnight. This web page should soon outline details of the 2024 programme.
21st June: Fête de la Musique
This music festival is one of Parisians’ favourite dates on the calendar, a time when they can let their hair down, and celebrate the summer solstice by dancing the day and night away. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on this day, keep the afternoon and evening free for spontaneous wandering (and dancing) — you’ll come across an eclectic array of musical acts in every arrondissement, in all sorts of nooks and crannies, from unexpected corners to grand settings. Check the official programme in case any of the events that tickle your fancy require pre-booking; look for the announcement of the 2024 programme here.
14th July: Le Fête Nationale
It’s always a pleasure to spend Bastille Day in Paris. Even if you can’t nab an early spot to watch the morning’s military parade on the Champs-Élysées, there are many great vantage points from which to admire the famous tricolour flyover (above), and then spot the soldiers and horses as they disperse across the city’s streets. Once these formalities are out of the way, the day becomes one of light-hearted leisure. Spend it by walking far and wide, stopping for a wine here or a meal there, or pack a picnic basket (and better still, a boules kit) and head to one of the city’s parks for a delightful afternoon.
Just a PS: Bastille Day usually marks the beginning of the summer holidays for locals, which is why the air seems infused with relaxing balm. This year, however, many Parisians will likely be eager to leave for their coastal or country holidays as soon as possible. That’s because Paris will not be as calm as usual, because it’s just about to host a certain huge global event …
26th July-11th August: Paris 2024 Summer Olympics
If you’re planning to be in Paris for the Olympics, doubtless you already have your tickets and accommodation sorted, and follow other sites and socials that are much more inclined to write about the subject of sport. I’ll just add my two cents’ worth: if you’re considering a mid-summer sojourn in Paris but are not interested in the Olympics at all, reconsider now. Paris will be manic at this time. Expensive, too. And some of the activities that make Paris Paris will be near impossible, such as spontaneous strolls by the Seine (which will be an official venue) or buying books from the riverside bouquinistes (who, outrageously, are being relocated for the duration of the Olympics). A silver lining: this could be your ideal time to discover other, quieter parts of beautiful France.
25th August: 80th Anniversary of the Liberation of Paris
Even though Paris will be recovering from hosting the Olympics, and about to back up with the Paralympic Games (28th August-8th September), expect major citywide celebrations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris, which was one of the most politically and psychologically pivotal moments for twentieth-century Paris. Details will emerge closer to the time, especially after the 80th anniversary celebrations of the D-day Normandy landings on 6th June.
21st-22nd September: Journées du Patrimoine
If you love history as much as you adore Paris, you need to make it to an annual Heritage Days celebration at least once in your life. During the Journées du Patrimoine, held on the third weekend of September, some of Paris’s most prestigious — and usually private — doors (such as those of the Palais du Luxembourg, above) open to the public for a host of events, exhibitions, and tours. (For an idea of what will be in store, click here for an overview of last year’s programme.) Keep a lookout here for the announcement of the 2024 lineup, and keep in mind that some listings will require pre-registration.
Another reason this will be a memorable time to be in Paris: the city will have exhaled after its Olympics and Paralympics hosting duties, and with post-holiday locals returning refreshed for the new work and school year, Paris will be readjusting to its usual relaxed rhythm. The heat and intensity of summer, too, will have calmed down, the crisp air and tinged leaves ushering in autumn/fall, a season that seems to suit and encourage a slower, mindful approach to living, and a contemplation of life in general. Not to mention an appreciation of this beautiful city and its history and culture — which is why the Heritage Days are so perfectly timed, and such a special experience.
Mid-October: The Birth of the Department Stores — a Double-Exhibition
If shopping is one of your favourite pastimes, any time is a great time to go to Paris (especially if it’s sales time, which next year will occur from 10th January and again from 26th June). But if you’re interested in the history of shopping (it can be a cultural pursuit, after all! Especially in the city that more or less invented shopping as we know it), consider a mid-October Parisian jaunt. That’s because you’ll be able to attend one of the final days of part one of The Birth of the Department Stores exhibition (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 10th April-13th October) before heading over to part two (Cité de l’Architecture, 16th October-16th March 2025). For more information, click here, and book online when tickets become available to secure your spots.
8th December: The Reopening of Notre-Dame
Drum roll, please … the cherry on the top of the Paris 2024 gâteau will surely be the long-awaited reopening of the beloved Cathedral of Notre-Dame, which was recently confirmed for 8th December. There’s no word yet on how the unveiling will be celebrated, nor specific access details, so keep an eye out on the Notre-Dame website or its socials for regular updates.