Spring is finally springing!
Events in Paris are ramping up, as they always do when it starts to get warm outside and the daylight extends a few extra hours. There’s a lot of art exhibitions happening this April, like an exhibit featuring paintings with stars at the Musée d’Orsay, and one at Le Grand Palais for the centennial anniversary of Rodin’s death. Reasons to head outside are ample as well, including the Paris Marathon on April 9th, the return of musical fountain shows at Versailles, and the blooming of the cherry blossoms (visit Square Jean XXIII to see them!). Inside for art or outside in the sun, check out these 10 things to do in Paris in April.
1. Paris Art Fair (March 30-April 2)
Le Grand Palais – 3 avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 (map)
138 exhibitors, 52,000+ visitors, and 2,200 artists all in Le Grand Palais: this is Paris Art Fair. It’s like any art fair—stalls of art, creators close by and happy to chat with anyone—but so much bigger. This year’s guest of honor is Africa. Thirty-five galleries will be displaying contemporary art from Africa and by African artists to celebrate perspectives from the African diaspora. Admission is €25, €12 for students, and free for kids 10 and under. Buy tickets here.
2. Le Lac des Cygnes (April 2-9)
Le Palais des Congrès – 2 place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 (map)
Swan Lake is the quintessential ballet to see. Both the ballet and orchestra of the National Opera of Russia will be at the Palais des Congrès for a week performing their rendition of Le Lac des Cygnes. The show has been so widely lauded, it’s already completed two performance tours. Buy tickets to Tchaikovsky’s masterwork, Swan Lake, here.
3. Eat Cheap and Save for Summer
Pot au Lait – 41 rue censier, 75005 (map); Bouillon-Chartier – Rue du faubourg Montmartre, 75009 (map); Higuma – 163 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 (map)
Whether you’re there on vacation or visa, spending the summer in Paris can break the bank. So start saving up by eating cheap in April. Think of it like an actually doable post-New Year’s, pre-summer resolution.
At Crêperie Le Pot au Lait in the 5ème arrondissement, the galettes de Sarasin classiques are about 6€, and the galettes de Sarasin composées run around 9€. Better yet, try their lunch special and get a savory crêpe, a sweet crêpe, and a drink for 12€90. At 121-year-old Bouillon-Chartier, you’ll sit in a luxurious restaurant (sometimes sharing a table with strangers) and eat 9-14€ main courses. Deviate from French food for a night and go for Japanese at Higuma: it’s got a million-dollar view of La Comédie Française theatre, and you only have to foot an 8-9€ bill for a hearty bowl of noodles.
4. Le Foire du Trone (March 31-June 5)
Bois de Vincennes – Pelouse de Reuilly, 75012 (map)
Dating back in 957, the Foire du Trone first appeared as a small carnival in 1805. Today, it’s grown into quite a big carnival—the biggest in Europe—with 350 games, rides, and attractions to amuse people of all ages. It’s as good as any American amusement park, complete with stands selling cotton candy, churros, crêpes, ice cream, and more. For a whole day of fair fun, tickets are €25 per person, and €15 for kids under 10. Buy tickets here.
5. Celebrate Easter (April 16)
Various locations throughout Paris
For those looking to celebrate Easter in church, the Paris tourism office has kindly assembled this list of masses and events during the week before Easter. Don’t worry that you’ll miss out on your neighborhood Easter egg hunt back in the US, you can do a chasse aux œufs in Paris! The Jardin des Champs-Elysées has an egg hunt on April 12 for kids ages 3-11 (reserve a spot by emailing here). On April 16 and 17, kids ages 3-10 and their parents can hunt for 20,000 eggs on the Champs-de-Mars and enjoy an Easter fair (reserve a spot here for 5€). In the Jardin d’Acclimitation, 20,000 chocolates will be hidden for kids ages 2-10 (admission is 3€50, which includes entrance to the fun-filled park).
6. The Color Run (April 16)
A run (or light jog) (or walk) along the Seine, jumping through bursts of colorful powder, ending the day dancing at a concert. Sure, you can do the Color Run in the US, but you’d never get scenery nearly half as belle as in Paris. Following the warm up activities, you begin your 5K at the Hôtel de Ville, ending at Pont d’Iéna at Trocadéro for the party put on by NRJ Extravadance. Your ticket buys you a white Color Run shirt, sunglasses, and fun temporary tattoos, and an assortment of things to help you cool-off after the race. Buy tickets here.
7. Salon Sugar Paris (April 20-22)
Bois de Vincennes – Parc Floral de Paris, Route de la Pyramide, 75012 (map)
It truly seems like Paris has a salon for everything—art, books, agriculture, and even pastries. The Salon Sugar Paris is a weekend dedicated completely to sweets. Learn cake decorating techniques, eat so many pastries, watch demonstrations by master pastry chefs, and buy baking supplies and party decorations. It’s paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth! Buy tickets for €10 here.
8. Marché aux fleurs et aux oiseaux
Allée Célestin Hennion, 75004 (map)
Forget about the crowded flea markets selling cheap knock-off purses and dusty books. Despite the fact that the Marché aux fleurs et aux oiseaux is in the eye of the storm of tourists on Île-de-la-Cité, it’s not full of tourists. Surrounded by fresh flowers and greenery, cages of bunnies and flitting birds, the smell of soil and seed, this market will have plenty of April buds and flowers for sale for your tiny chambre de bonne, as well as some kitschy mugs and garden store souvenirs to take home.
9. “Tenue correcte exigée: quand le vêtement fait scandale” (Until April 23)
Musée des Arts décoratifs – 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 (map)
Women wearing bikinis, men donning skirts, garments and necklines that push limits and offend—all throughout history there have been fashion scandals. At Le Musée des Arts décoratifs, the scandals are in the spotlight again in the exhibit, “Dress Code Required: When Clothing is Scandalous.” Over 400 garments and items are on display, including Madonna’s cone bra by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Brigitte Bardot’s wedding dress, the first smoking jacket for women by Yves Saint Laurent, and much more. Buy your tickets for €11 here (price includes entrance to the museum).
10. La Grande Mosquée de Paris
2 bis place du Puits de l’Ermite, 75005 (map)
With the weather warming up and the flowers starting to bloom, it’s the perfect time to visit the the Great Mosque of Paris. Founded in 1926 as a thank you to the Muslims who fought in World War I, the Grande Mosquée is truly an oasis. Anyone can enter, so take this as an opportunity to widen your cultural horizons. For €3, you can take a guided tour through the mosque and gardens. Be sure to visit the café-restaurant-market on the southeast corner of the mosque for delicious food, tea, and small desserts. You can sit indoors in a den of red cushions, gold tables, and wooden archways, or outdoors on the blue wicker chairs around blue tile tables, while tiny birds flit in and out of the café. Visiting la Grande Mosquée de Paris is a cheap, delicious, and a multicultural activity anyone would enjoy.