As the sun sets on 2 October 2010, the City of Light will live up to its name. Until 7am the following day, Paris will be transformed into a festival of midnight magic, with elaborate light installations, edgy performances and unique artworks lining city streets, as museums, galleries, cinemas, parks and monuments throw open their doors. It’s set to be one hell of an all-nighter!
Paris White Night 2010 (otherwise known as Nuit Blanche) is a hotly-anticipated celebration on the Parisian cultural calendar. Since first being launched in 2002, it has grown to attract more than 1.5 million people armed with cameras, cell phones, city maps…and some super strong coffee.
Wandering through the White Night
Throughout the 2010 White Night Festival, it will be hard to find a few square metres of Parisian streets that are not overflowing with night-time art and culture.
Activities, installations and events will take place across three main areas – the West of Paris near Trocadero and major cultural institutions, the Centre around islands of St Louis and the City, and the East around the neighbourhood of Belleville. Keeping this in mind, for those not keen on losing yourself in those nuit blanche streets, it may be best to book a hostel in Paris and plan your journey from there. Despite underground lines remaining open for extended hours, metro cars and night buses are likely to be crammed towards the end of the night, so it’s always a good idea to walk home if feasible.
Regardless, when it comes to experiencing a White Night celebration, the best advice we can give may be summed up in two words: get lost. After all, an avant garde festival such as this one should always be approached with an avant garde spirit…a spirit that is best achieved with some quality street ambling!
White Night Highlights
Unsure where to start in your White Night adventure? Why not check out some of these unique installations, videos, exposures and exhibits selected to form part of the midnight melee…
Who Are You Peter?: This 13th exhibition of the Louis Vuitton Cultural centre takes its inspiration from the story of Peter Pan – the boy who never grew up. Thirteen contemporary artists explore various aspects of this magical tale in their unique works about myth, childhood and the troublemaker.
What? Exposure. Where? Espace Louis Vuitton. When? 7pm-5am.
Phone Tapping: A chillingly postmodern take on the ghosts of Seoul city, this ethereal video by HeeWon Lee is projected in a loop around lecture halls of the Superior National School of Architecture.
What? Video. Where? Superior National School of Architecture de Paris-Belleville. When? 7pm-7am.
Road Trip: This video installation uses the windshield of a car to project images of landscapes traversed and memories gained on road trips gone by.
What? Video. Where? Highway to the Street 20 Jouye Rouvas. When? 7pm-7am.
Body Double 22, 2010: This video by Brice Dellsperger replays scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut to reflect on the double play of the actor and character.
What? Video. Where? Theatre du Chatalet. When? 12pm-7am.
(SEE)3 The Contemplation Cube: An amusement park ride that explores our modes of perception by exposing the body to 360 degree U-gravity. What does that mean? Experience it to find out!
What? Installation. Where? Gymnasium the Bidasoa. When? 10pm-6am.
Kiss, 2004: Two dancers move together through the glass courtyard of the National School of Fine Arts. At times the couple freezes on stage to create some of the most famous kisses in 20th century art, inspired by the works of Rodin, Klimt, Munich, Picasso and Koons.
What? Sculpture performance. Where? National School of Fine Arts. When? 7pm-7am.
Midnight Pit Stops
Aside from the usual late-night clubs and pubs, you will find a number of Parisian cafes, bars and restaurants throwing open their doors to cater for White Nighters with the 3am munchies.
East: For those exploring the East end of White Night, don’t miss a midnight meal at The Saint Martha – a typical Parisian bistro located in the heart of Belleville. Food here is generally tapas style, and the desserts in particular are not to be missed, from the crème brulee trilogy to a rich traditional chocolate cake. Seeking a little more entertainment? Check out the nearby Au Chat Noir performance café and bar, offering an eclectic mix of music, theatre, film and art in a traditional Parisian café atmosphere.
West: Stylishly informal, well-priced, fresh and delicious, Tokyo Eat inside the Palais de Tokyo is a great choice for those exploring the west of Paris White Night. A favourite of young artists from France and abroad, the menu offers a wide selection of adventurous fusion foods, while the décor (complete with pink UFO-style lamps and artist-designed tables and chairs) is chicly unique. For something a little more traditional, you could also check out the Museum of Modern Art Café or various kiosks around the Trocadéro.
Centre: Our top pick for some fun drinking and dining in the centre of Paris is the Pick-Clops café on rue Vieille-du-Temple. This 50s rock-n-roll style bar combines a cool kitschy atmosphere with cheap meals and a surprisingly large cocktail selection. For some great people watching (if you can find a seat!), also check out the terrace of Féria Café to indulge in a midnight coffee and some hot or cold traditional tapas. Or, for those who prefer a little Parisian bistro luxury, there are a number of cafe bars open overnight around the Place du Châtelet.
Where to stay
Paris offers a wide range of hotels and cheap hostels catering to young backpackers and budget travelers. A popular choice for party-seekers in the city centre is St Christopher’s Inn, which offers facilities including free WiFi, live music, a female-only floor and a popular Belushi’s bar. Rooms are still available over the White Night period from €29 per night. For something a little more private, Bastille Apartments is a great choice for couples or groups of friends, offering fully-equipped studio apartments or 4-bed rooms from €26 per person per night.
For ideas about where to go in France visit www.placesinfrance.com.