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France reopens: Ideas for what to see and do in summer 2021

Culture is back on the table after a long pause due to Covid-19 restrictions

20 May 2021
Women looking at a painting in a gallery

Visitors at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris in 2019. Galleries and museums are open again in France after a long closure Pic: Goncharovaia / Shutterstock

Museums and galleries reopened in France this week after more than six months of closure due to the pandemic and there is once again a diverse programme of events on offer around the country. 

We have picked out six exhibitions, museums or events that are open or opening in the coming months that caught our eye.

There is still a limit on the number of people who can visit museums and galleries – one visitor every 8m2. This will increase to one every 4m2 on June 9 before the restriction is lifted entirely on June 30.

There are also still discussions about how large events will be managed, with the government planning a pass sanitaire (health pass) to allow people access when there are gatherings of over 1,000 people. 

Fête de la musique

France’s iconic Fête de la musique will go ahead this year on June 21, but it will have to conform to the 23:00 national curfew and wearing a mask will be obligatory.

The event, known as Music Day in English, originated in France in 1982 but has become a worldwide event.

On June 21 every year, musicians are encouraged to go outside and play music on the streets or in parks or other public spaces. Free concerts are also organised, where musicians play for fun and not payment. 

Read more about the Fête de la musique here. 

Museum Night

On July 3 this year the 17th edition of the Nuit Européenne des Musées will take place in France and around Europe. That evening, many museums will open their doors and welcome visitors for free, from dusk until midnight.

The participating museums will each put on their own special events, that could include shows, music, live readings, guided tours, historical reenactments, etc. 

You can find out more information about the night on the Culture Ministry's website here. More details will be published in the coming weeks regarding which museums are participating. 

Jazz à Juan music festival

From July 9 to 20, Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera will become very jazzy.

The small town on the Mediterranean sea has been the host of this popular festival since the 1960s. 

It attracts a stellar lineup, and greats such as Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald have played there in the past. 

But the headliners are not the only attraction. The whole town turns musical. The festival states:

“It is a real laboratory where everyone can see that jazz is still a living musical style: high quality opening bands, free ‘off’ fringe concerts, hotel bars and streets carried away by Brass bands... There is plenty to be discovered.”

Tickets are on sale now.

L’hôtel de la Marine (Paris)

The Hôtel de la Marine is the former headquarters of the French Navy. The public have not had access to it for over 200 years, but this June it is set to open its door.

It has taken around four years and €132 million to refurbish this iconic site on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. 

The website states:

“Since 2017, restoration campaigns have brought true marvels to light, with the rediscovery of the original decor of the Intendant’s apartments as they were at the end of the 18th century. 

“Its architecture, painted decor, furniture and artworks from the 18th and 19th centuries present to the public the close relationship between decorative arts, the art of hosting, craftsmanship, French excellence and the expression of power.”

You can find out more about booking a tour on the website here.

Jeff Koons, ‘Œuvres de la Collection Pinault’, Mucem, Marseille

This exhibition was conceived in close collaboration with the American artist and will present some of his most famous works in Marseille.

He is renowned for his works portraying popular culture and his sculptures depicting everyday objects.

Some of his most popular work, including the sculptures Balloon Dog and Lobster, and the paintings Backyard and Dutch Couple, will be on display. 

“The originality of the exhibition lies in the encounter between Koons' works and the Mucem collections,” Mucem writes about the exhibition. 

“Each work is linked to a set of objects in the museum to create a conversation, sometimes formal, sometimes symbolic or poetic, between Jeff Koons' major pieces and our popular art collections.”

The museum is open now. Tickets cost €11 for individuals or €18 for a family. For more information, you can check Mucem’s website here. 

La Terre en héritage, du Néolithique à nous, Musée des Confluences, Lyon

For those interested in our changing climate, Lyon’s Musée des Confluences has a fascinating offering. 

This historical exhibition highlights today’s major environmental challenges by shedding light on another pivotal period in our history, the Neolithic era.

This period “marked the beginning of our exploitation of nature and changed our relationship with other living beings,” Lyon’s Musée des Confluences states.

Tickets cost €9 for adults and you have to book a time slot in advance. More information can be found on the museum’s website here. 

Read more:

First museum reopens in France with music and breakfast - at 6:00

Covid calendar: What is open on May 19, June 9 and June 30 in France?

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