Grey skies, damp air, short days and long nights – yes, winter has arrived in Paris. While strolling the Seine, with the cold wind whipping at your face, might not seem so appealing, the city is still rife with sightseeing. You’ll just have to head indoors to experience it.
January is a rich time for art and exhibits in Paris, as many shows carry over through the new year while fresh ones open up towards the end of the month. In 2016, there are several unique collections to see in some of the lesser-visited galleries. Head to the Musée d’Orsay and the Picasso Museum, of course, but I suggest taking some time to explore the road less travelled.
For instance, the new shows at the end of January are in some of the city’s most interesting museums. The Fondation Louis Vuitton, for example, is a stunning piece of architecture that houses a fantastic collection of art, though the building is reason enough to visit. Starting on 26 January, a show about contemporary Chinese art will be on display, featuring 12 mainland Chinese artists. Tucked away in the Bois de Boulogne, it’s a nice little break from the bustling traffic in the city.
For something a bit different, try the Musée du Quai Branly, near the Eiffel Tower, a museum celebrating civilizations beyond Europe. They’ll inaugurate a new exhibit on 26 January entitled ‘Persona, étrangement humain’. The collection will focus on how humans have given life to inanimate objects over the years, up until recently with robotics. Again, even if the exhibit only slightly tickles your fancy, the museum has an impressive collection of artefacts from all over the world, like the Pacific Islands or the Americas.
Beyond art and culture, the Holocaust Memorial in the Marais will feature an exhibit on those who survived the exterminations in the 1940s. This special exhibit will detail the realities of returning to life after the liberation of Europe, if you can even imagine what that must have been like. It’s not going to be a light-hearted visit, but the museum and their special events are wonderfully curated and they are all presented with English information, which I tend to appreciate. What’s more, the museum is entirely free to enter.
A completely different kind of visit awaits at the Musée du Fumeur, or the Museum of Smokers. Yes, it really exists. This tiny little museum opened an exhibit in the fall celebrating 10 years of electronic cigarettes, also called vaping. The gallery offers a surprisingly interesting look at the relationship between humans and smoking over the centuries, and at only two euros to enter, it’s an affordable way to warm up while walking around town.
Another ongoing exhibit will take you into the Louvre, where you’ll be able to see something more than the Mona Lisa. An exhibit entitled ‘Founding Myths, from Hercules to Darth Vader’ is continuing all the way through July. The array of objects and works recounts man’s use of myth stretching back centuries to today’s pop culture, especially timely with the new Star Wars film released recently.
Some of 2015’s exhibits are winding down this winter, but there is still time to check them out before they close. At the Musée d’Art Moderne, there is a show featuring works by Andy Warhol on through 7 February. La Cinémathèque française is running its show on American director Martin Scorsese though to 16 February. The Institut du Monde Arabe has extended its excellent temporary exhibit on Egyptian god Osiris, featuring artefacts from an underwater marine excavation, through to 6 March. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For more information on the seemingly endless exhibits going on in Paris this year, check out the website of the visitor’s bureau in English or L’Officiel des Spectacles if you can pick through the French. No matter where you go, be sure to stay warm!
Ready to do some winter sightseeing? Check out our hotel deals for Paris to start planning your escape!