There’s an exciting list of major events and new attractions in France in 2021. Some were due to take place or open last year but were prevented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Others were scheduled for 2021. Let’s hope there’s not a further lockdown in France postponing them again.
Major Events in France in Spring 2021
Major New Attractions in Paris
Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection
The French billionaire and art collector François Pinault has an extraordinary collection of great works. He will show many of them in his new Parisian attraction – the Bourse de Commerce. It was scheduled to open last year. It will open on May 22, 2021 and offer an extraordinary collection.
The historic Bourse de Commerce or Stock Exchange was originally built in the 16th century. Transformed two centuries later, it retained its iconic circular dome.
This is part of a huge renovation of this large site and will include a restaurant from French chef Michel Bras.
The first exhibitions are curated and organised from Pinault’s other museums. From Palazzo Grassi comes works by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. A second exhibition, from the same museum, Once Upon a Dream features the artist, Youssef Nabil (Cairo, 1972). Untitled, 2020, presenting works by over 60 artists held by the Pinault Collection, international museums and private collections comes from the Punta della Dogana.
Bourse de Commerce – Collection Pinault
2 rue de Viarmes
Tel: +33 1 55 04 60 60
Check website for opening times and entrance prices
Palais Galliera Fashion Museum
Paris’ Palais Galliera fashion museum shut in 2016 for major renovations. Opened for a short time in October 2020, Covid-19 restrictions closed it again. France’s first permanent fashion museum will be on everyone’s must see attractions in Paris.
This spring, 2021, the Palais Galliera will open new galleries and the Gabrielle Chanel Rooms, showing the history of fashion from the 18th century to today. From June 2021 you can take a guided tour through fashion history and the collection. In the autumn 2021, catch the exhibition Vogue Paris, 1920-2020.
Palais Galliera Fashion
10 avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie
Tel: +33 (0)1 56 52 86 00
Check website for details of entrance
Fondation Pernod Ricard
The Fondation Pernod Ricard is a new venue aimed at supporting the young, contemporary French arts scene. You’llf ind it in the global headquarters of Pernod Ricard in the Saint-Lazare district in central Paris. There’s a big exhibition space, an auditorium and other spaces for performances or one-off installations. Grab a coffee or light snack at the Café Mirette which opens onto a large terrace and courtyard and meet fellow enthusiasts.
It is scheduled to open on February 6th, 2021.
Fondation d’entreprise Pernod Ricard
1 cours Paul Ricard
Tel: +33 (0)1 70 93 26 00
Guided Tours Wed 12.30pm; Sat 12.30pm & 4pm Admission FreeMetro St Lazare (lines 3, 12, 13, 14)
Hôtel de la Marine
The apartments of the Hôtel de la Marine, overlooking Place de la Concorde are spectacular. The building was opened in 1774, and housed the Court’s collection of furniture and works of art. It was also in overall charge of the great tapestry manufactories of the Gobelins and Beauvais that made France such an important tapestry centre. The Hôtel de la Marine stands opposite an identical building, now housing the Hôtel Meurice.
After the French Revolution the building was taken over by the Ministry of the Navy. They finally moved out in 2015.
You take a handset with 3D visual and audio effects as you stroll through the riches of the past and look out over a view that takes in Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Gardens, the Musée d’Orsay, the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower.
Temporary exhibitions come from the spectacular Al-Thani Collection of works of art. This extraordinary Quatar Foundation has in its possession over 6,000 works from the ancient world to today from antiquities to jewels, paintings to manuscripts. It organises exhibitions on different themes around the world.
It will open in May April 2021.
Hôtel de la Marine
2 place de la Concorde
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 61 20 00
Open daily 10.30am-7pm (Friday to 10pm). Closed Jan 1, May 1, Christmas
Admission Grand tour: €17 – Salons & loggia: €13 – Collection Al Thani: €11.50
Temporary Grand Palais (Grand Palais Ephémère)
While the Grand Palais is closed for extensive restoration, exhibitions will be held in a temporary Grand Palais on the Champs de Mars at the base of the Eiffel Tower. One of the major events in France in 2021, the temporary building will remain there until Autumn 2024. The renovation of the Grand Palais is taking place so the glorious over-the-top building can dazzle as a host venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024.
Temporary Grand Palais
3, avenue du Général Eisenhower
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 13 17 17
Check the website for all information on exhibitions, times and prices
La Samaritaine is one of the great department stores of Paris. Founded in 1870 it was a mix of Art Nouveau and Art Deco and was the model for the modern department store. Prices were clearly displayed, customers could wander at will, and a revolutionary idea was introduced…customers could try on the clothes!
La Samaritaine was closed for safety reasons in 2005 and has been totally renovated by the LVMH Group at a cost of 500 million euros. Spread over two blocks between the Quai du Louvre and the Rue de Rivoli, the site includes a department store, a five-star Cheval Blanc hotel with 72 rooms, housing, offices and a crèche. Postponed from 2020 it’s hoped to open in February 2021.
This may not be among the museums and galleries that form the major events in France in 2021, but La Samaritaine has always been an iconic building, much loved by Parisians and the world.
9 Rue de la Monnaie
Tel: +33 1 56 81 28 40
Metro Pont Neuf (Line 7) or Chatelet-Les-Halles (Lines 1, 4, 7, 11, 14)
Major Events & New Attractions in France in 2021 outside Paris
Events, Openings & News from Normandy
Les Franciscaines – The Franciscan Project, Deauville
Built in 1876 as the home of Franciscan sisters, the neo-classical building has been restored and The Franciscan Project is now a museum, exhibition space, auditorium and media library. It’s divided into the different themes that represent Deauville and its history: horses, cinema, entertainment, photography, lifestyle and youth.
There’s a permanent exhibition of works by the French artist André Hambourg (1909-1999). He led an interesting life, studying art in Paris when a young man, then becoming a correspondent in World War II. Appointed as the official painter to the Navy in 1952, André Hambourg travelled around the world, sketching and painting wherever he went. Alongside his paintings there are pieces he collected or exchanged with contemporary artists from Van Dongen to Derain.
The museum opens officially on March 20, 2021. The first temporary exhibition explores how Paradise is expressed in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. On the Paths of Paradise runs from Mar 20 to Jun 6, 2021 with exhibits from major French and international museums and galleries.
Les Franciscaines – The Franciscan Project
145B Ave de la République
Tel: +33 (0)2 31 14 02 02
Check website for more details
Bicentenary of the Birth of Gustave Flaubert
The great French writer is best known as the author of Madame Bovary, his first novel. Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen on Dec 21, 1821, was educated there and left for Paris in 1840 to study law. He met Victor Hugo, was an indifferent student and returned to Normandy. He went to Croisset near the Seine and lived there for the rest of his life. The house where he was born in Rouen is now a museum, but you’ll discover more about his father, a doctor, and 19th-century medicine, than the writer.
Normandy is celebrating its famous son with exhibitions, shows, tourist trains, dramatized walking tours and more throughout 2021.
Museum of Flaubert & the History of Medicine
51 rue Lecat
Tel: +33 (0)2 35 15 59 95
His house in Croisset, Pavillon Flaubert, is also open.
18 quai Gustave Flaubert
Tel: +33 (0)2 76 08 80 88
The Marcel Proust Museum
In 1919 Marcel Proust (1871-1922) won the Prix Goncourt literary prize after he published the second volume of À la recherche du temps perdu (known as Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time). It appeared in seven parts between 1913 and 1927, though he died before completing the final revisions of the last three volumes. Critics from Graham Greene to most of the French literary establishment have called him one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.
In spring 2021 the Villa du Temps Retrouvé in Cabourg (originally the Villa Bon Abri) will open as the Marcel Proust Museum. Proust spent many of his holidays here, and it provided the inspiration for his famous novel.
19th-century Belle-Epoque France brought about a sea change in every aspect of life. Railways criss-crossed the country, bringing in new rich visitors from Paris and other cities. They built flamboyant villas, casinos and theatres, transforming once sleepy fishing ports. The Marcel Proust Museum recreates the life of the time and shows the history of the Côte Fleurie through Proust’s vision. There’s a garden, shop and café.
Marcel Proust Museum/Villa du Temps Retrouvé
15 Avenue du Président Raymond Poincaré
Check the Cabourg Tourism website for times and prices of entry
British Normandy Memorial, Gold Beach
22,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen died while fighting under British command in the Battle of Normandy in June 1944.
The British Normandy Memorial was designed by Liam O’Connor, award-winning architect behind the Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park. Here you’ll see a ‘D-Day Sculpture by David Williams-Ellis and the D-Day Wall featuring the names of those who fell on D-Day. 160 stone columns are inscribed with the names of those who died between D-Day and the Liberation of Paris at the end of August 1944.
There’s also a French Memorial dedicated to those French civilians who died at the time.
You’ll find it just outside the village of Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach.
The memorial will open on Jun 6, 2021.
More about Normandy and what to see and do.
Opening in Provence
Marseille Underwater Museum (Musée Subaquatique de Marseille)
The Marseille Underwater Museum must be a first and it’s certainly unusual. It’s not exactly a museum, but a series of sculptures submerged in the sea. To get there? You have to dive. It’s inspired by the MUSA Museum in Cancun, Mexico, created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor.
The ‘museum’ consists of 10 sculptures submerged 5 metres down and located 100 metres off the plage des Catalans in Marseille. It’s dedicated to art, marine biology and protecting the environment.
More information here.
You can book a dive and visit with the partner of the museum, the dive club le GRASM.
Opening in Isère
The Musée Champollion is the first French museum entirely dedicated to Egyptology and is inspired by two brothers. Jean-François Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs from the Rosetta Stone. His elder brother, Jacques-Joseph Champollion-Figeac, was one of the most important archaeologists and expert on Egypt and the ancient world.
The museum is set in one of the family’s houses in Vif near Grenoble in Isère. Furnishings and items from the family and private collections will take you back to the 19th century. More importantly, it brings the excitement of the Egyptology quest to life.
The park and vegetable garden will be newly planted and the orchard will have local species of fruit trees. It will open on May 21, 2021.
More Events in France in 2021
Events in France in 2020
These are not yet updated, but to get an idea of what might be on as many of these are annual events, here’s last year. I’ll update them in the next few weeks.